The People Under the Stairs

by Hugh Roberts

The countdown to Halloween is almost here. Hugh Roberts wrote this spooky story just for you, the readers of Always Write. I hope that you will enjoy it.

Thank goodness they had gone. She’d spent 30 years trying to get rid of them, and they choose to go now, a week before she moved to a new home?

Raising her hands in the air, Gloria celebrated, knowing she’d beaten them. It must have been the leftover stilton cheese from Christmas she’d placed under the stairs that had finally driven them out. 

Now, with only a week to go before she moved to the residential home that catered for people with the early onset of dementia, she could finally get started on sorting out 30-years of clutter. 

30-years of disturbed sleep, because of the people under the stairs, had taken its toll on Gloria. Rather than begin sorting out clutter, she could have comfortably sat in her favourite armchair and have taken a nap. The packing could wait until tomorrow, or somebody else could do it.

***

The following morning, Gloria awoke from the best night’s sleep she’d had since the night of her honeymoon. Throwing back the bedcovers, she made her way downstairs to make the first cuppa of the day.

Just as she walked past the door that led to under the stairs, Gloria came to a grinding halt. Was that a noise she’d heard coming from behind the door or was it her imagination?  

“Oh, I do hope you’re back,” sighed Gloria as she placed her hand on the door handle. “I’m going to countdown from three. If you’re not in there, they’ll be trouble. Three, four, two…Whoosh!”

Nothing but darkness and the faint smell of cheese met Gloria. She felt slightly disappointed that nobody was in there. A sudden noise from upstairs startled her, forcing her to close the door quickly.

‘Gloria? Is that you?” came a muffled, familiar voice from above her.

“You’re my little secret. My first job of the day after my morning cuppa will be to clear out this cupboard; your home,” Gloria told herself.

***

By the day of the move, Gloria had become a little depressed. How could the people from under the stairs have left her? They may have given her 30 years of disturbed sleep, but they were her best friends. She should never have made them go.

“Come on”, said a familiar voice of a man she didn’t recognise. “It’s time to go. Do you want to take a final look around the house before we go?”

Shaking her head, Gloria shed a few tears. Not only was she leaving behind 30 years of memories but leaving behind 30 years of living with the people from under the stairs. 

***

On the first night in her new home, Gloria woke to the sound of scratching coming from under her bed. Were they back? The people from under the stairs, were they back?

As she watched the duvet cover slowly disappearing down the bed, revealing the bodies of her and a man who looked familiar, Gloria knew they were back.

Hugh Roberts

Biography

Hugh W. Roberts lives in Swansea, South Wales, in the United Kingdom.

Hugh gets his inspiration for writing from various avenues including writing prompts, photos, eavesdropping and while out walking his dogs, Toby and Austin. Although he was born in Wales, he has lived around various parts of the United Kingdom, including London where he lived and worked for 27 years. 

Hugh suffers from a mild form of dyslexia but, after discovering blogging, decided not to allow the condition to stop his passion for writing. Since creating his blog ‘Hugh’s Views & News’ in February 2014, he has built up a strong following and now writes every day. Always keen to promote other bloggers, authors and writers, Hugh enjoys the interaction blogging brings and has built up a group of online friends he considers as an ‘everyday essential.’

His short stories have become well known for the unexpected twists they contain in taking the reader up a completely different path to one they think they are on. One of the best compliments a reader can give Hugh is “I never saw that ending coming.”

Having published his first book of short stories, Glimpses, in December 2016, his second collection of short stories, More Glimpses, was released in March 2019. 

A keen photographer, he also enjoys cycling, walking, reading, watching television, and enjoys relaxing with a glass of red wine and sweet popcorn.

Hugh shares his life with John, his civil-partner, and Toby and Austin, their Cardigan Welsh Corgis.

Hugh W. Roberts: Author, Blogger, & Writer
Blog: Hugh’s Views And News
Author of: More Glimpses and Glimpses

Books: Amazon Author Page:
Twitter: @HughRoberts05
Flipboard: Hugh W. Roberts

Let me know in the comment section if you would enjoy more short stories from different authors in the future.

Prior Commentary on Blog Challenges

I’ve been friends with Yvette for at least five or six years and love chatting with her and admiring her photos. Her sense of humor and intelligent thoughtfulness augments the value of every photo she posts.

For Example

Morning Walker #1 (March 2020): The crack in the sidewalk is what grabbed my attention later when I looked at the photo. It is as if the man pressed his foot down and caused the crack. Or have I seen too many Super Hero movies (I don’t even watch any of those type of movies – haha  so who knows….). I found this photo to be interesting with the verticals (man’s body, tall building above his head, the other verticals right) and then the white t-shirt, Adidas socks, Nike sneakers, towel in hand – and then the row of open squares middle upper right. Old bridge new structure going up… hmmmmm  

See what I mean? Did you notice all that stuff? So I know you’re going to love her guest post.

Hi, my name is Yvette Prior and I have been blogging over at Priorhouse regularly since 2014. 

In today’s post, I wanted to share some thoughts about blog challenges. 

Marsha is currently running a series about blog challenges and I wanted to share a few thoughts because I have joined in with a lot of challenges over the years. 

Blog challenges refer to joining in with other bloggers to post about a theme or topic. There are many types of blog challenges.  Challenges can have daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly schedules. 

Blog challenges allow us to build connections – a niche social circle. 

The challenges that we join allow us to network and build rapport with others. Or they can – depending on how active we are and how others in the group respond to newcomers or to your unique contributions and style. One of my favorite challenges for building the “social circle” is the Lens-Artists’ weekly  photo challenge.  They have four main hosts, guest hosts, and then the many participants seem to be like-minded folks and it is a lot of fun. I also learn so much and it is nice to meet people from all over the world and with different backgrounds. 

Hosting requires effort and consistency. Yvette Prior

Lens-Artists’ Photo Challenge Hosts

Challenges Motivate Ideas and Creativity. 

Blog challenges motivate ideas and can help with creativity. Sometimes a blog challenge theme gives us a reason to snap that photo or write about a topic.  Sometimes I want to post after taking a break from blogging and I lack the motivation or just do not have ideas for the next post. However, then I take a look at some of the challenges and ideas flood in. It then comes down to deciding which ones to contribute to.

One – start with one challenge to get going 

If you are new to blogging and you are not sure where to start, I would say explore different challenges and start with one challenge.  

Read about what the host expects or prefers. For example, some challenge hosts really want participants to make a separate post to join in with their challenge. Other hosts do not seem to mind if someone combines one post to join in with multiple challenges.  

Also, make sure to join the challenge somewhat close to the day it starts. For example, if it is a weekly challenge, sometimes the entries fizzle out on days 5 or 6 as folks are getting ready for the next week.  However, some challenges welcome people to join in late, and it can be fun to see some entries trickle in. 

Two – Don’t feel like you are obligated to stay doing a challenge. 

If you are done, then walk away. I know it can feel like a break up and we do not want to hurt feelings, but if you stay blogging with an obligatory mindset – you will lose freshness. Blogging can have ups and downs and can have times of feeling like a drain, and so you must guard your essence. You do not want to get to the point of being “done” to where you exit and leave for good. 

Three – Watch the pull of blog challenges. 

The social connecting can be such a thrill here in the blog community. However, it can also pull you into what feels like a black hole. It can feel like a vortex has pulled you in and you need to get out. So draw boundaries. Find times to indulge, but do make sure you monitor your involvement. If I ever feel like I am getting sucked in, I might fast for a week or even thirty days. I actually suggest people do this before they feel the drain starting to occur. Regular breaks allow our threshold to reset and can lead to more enjoyment in the long run. This applies to many areas, not just blogging. 

Four – Make time to visit other bloggers that join in the challenge(s) you join in with. 

Balance task vs. relationships. Make time to join in and create a post (the task) but then make time visit other bloggers (relationship) that join in the challenge(s) you join in with. Visiting other bloggers is an important part of the blog experience. Don’t force yourself to visit, but it might take effort to make some rounds. And do not feel like you have to visit every single post that someone puts out there. It could be too much of “you” and the spaced out visits could be win-win for all. 

Also, it is nice to get and give “likes” – but some bloggers do not pay ever attention to the likes (or the likes don’t show up after you click it) and so leaving a comment always has more weight. Try to leave something specific (rather than general like “nice post” or “cool”) but do not feel like you have to write a book either. Sometimes less can be more, especially if you put a little bit of “you” into it.

Do not be afraid to say something as simple as “I enjoyed your post” because you might not be able to move into commentary mode so quickly. Some people have a natural (or developed) skill for reading a post and then having some thoughtful commentary. Others are still in view mode and do not always have thoughts come so naturally. And in my experience, any blogger that starts to gripe about “shallow comments” or “too general” of a comment might not realize the different modes people are in.

Five – If you reach a point to where you want to host a challenge, go for it. 

Hosting a challenge might be your next step. If you reach a point to where you want to host a challenge, go for it. It could be something that becomes part of your small “great works” as you connect and give a little back to the community. Or, it could be a short-term adventure that does not last long – but has allowed you to learn, grow, and meet other bloggers.

Hosting challenges can be a different experience for each host. The amount of work it requires will vary depending on the type of challenge it is but it usually requires a lot of effort. I stopped running a challenge because it added more time to my blogging hours and it was not something I enjoyed. Also, the inconsistencies were annoying. For example, one week there would be a lot of participants and a vibrancy but then the next week it felt lackluster with the sound of crickets.

So rather than hosting challenges, I contribute to the ones that align with my aims and interests. For example, a personal goal of mine is to write more flash fiction.  For a while, I was able to join in with three weekly flash fiction challenges and then narrowed it down to one. The challenge helps me hone a skill that I would not otherwise tap into.

Also, rather than hosting, I sometimes start my own themes for a series. For example, I do Wednesday Street Shots, What to Wear Wednesday, and Monday Morning Blooms. 

A passive host signals to me that they do not care about engagement – or they do not value each and every entry – and if they do not care – well then why should I?  Yvette Prior

Occasionally, I might be tempted to set up those series as challenge invites, but I refrain. Hosting requires effort and consistency. I only have so much time to blog (like most folks) and I also do not want to be locked into any forced schedule. I like some regularity that changes with the seasons, but to me, hosting a challenge feels like unenjoyable work – and so this is why I try to always thank the folks that do host  – their labor of love provides a lot for the blogging community. 

Most blog hosts will visit each blogger that joins their challenge. I think this is an important part of hosting. They set the challenge parameters and invite others to join. Then, they visit the bloggers that join in. It feels like a common courtesy and the visitation can lead to some fun connecting. 

However, some blog hosts do not visit the participants that join their challenge. I stopped contributing to a few challenges because the challenge host did not visit and did not seem to care who joined in. A passive host signals to me that they do not care about engagement – or they do not value each and every entry – and if they do not care – well then why should I?  

However, most challenge hosts do visit the participants, even if they keep the comments brief. Some challenge hosts visit and bring sunshine with them, and that can be such a boost. 

There are some challenges I stopped joining in with just because the topic no longer interested me or the challenge was not something I wanted to do anymore. The host might have been great and the other folks were awesome in that circle, but it was no longer a part of my desired blogging mode. I used to feel bad for leaving certain blog challenges.

However, I allowed myself embrace the freedom. I needed to discover new blogging modes and my interests had changed so it was not personal. Further, it can be quite draining to oblige or to stay with something because you feel like you have to.  If we force ourselves to participate it will backfire because the lack of genuineness will eventually show. We might stay present but withdraw with attitude and energy. Then everyone loses out.  So even though I feel bad for not joining in some challenges after being a regular, I hope that the integrity of the choice will outweigh any hurt feelings.

Also, I have found that we can join in with challenges occasionally. For example, there is a weekly challenge that I used to do for a couple of years. I no longer want that challenge in my blog schedule, but this year I was able to join in once. I might try and join again later this fall. There is another challenge that is monthly and I just joined in this month. I am not sure if this is optimal, to only join in once in a while, and so I will monitor how it goes because I do not want to occasionally join in if that does not align with what the host prefers.  

Sometimes I join in with challenges because I like the idea or theme. For example, with “Pull Up a Seat” challenge, it seemed like such a fresh idea and so I joined in. Later on I bonded with the hostess, who is this awesome lady from the West Coast. 

Other times I might start joining in with a challenge because I like the host. For example, Bush Boy’s monthly photo challenge was a good idea, but I joined in with it to connect with him – and his followers – more than really wanting to join another photo challenge.   I also have some challenges on my “to join in with” list – just because I like the host.  For example, VJ runs a weekly writing challenge that I have been meaning to join in with. 

Sometimes the host matters more than the challenge and I have left challenges because the host was grumpy.  Even though I liked the theme of their challenge – I just didn’t feel that as a “hobby blogger” I should have to endure certain mood swings. Of course the blog experience will always have social elements come up, because we are humans and not robots – but there is no reason to suffer through grumpy hosts. 

I have also stopped joining in with challenges because of some of the participants. For example, a weekly challenge that I did for years had a domineering participant who left comments that drained me. Subtle things, and nothing egregious, but it went on for months until I finally just decided that the social circle there was not for me. I grieved for a while – for the small loss – because I did make some nice connections, but I also felt freed up and it made room for something else. 

Norm’s Doors

Thank you so much for reading this post. I hope that my experience with blog challenges will give you some ideas and thoughts. You might be wanting to start a challenge, might be looking to join in with some, or you might be at a point where you need to pull back. We are all in different spots and the biggest tip is to make sure that you approach blog challenges in ways that keep you fresh. If you lose your essence, do too much, or fail to draw needed boundaries, you could end up drained and gone. Don’t let that happen. The hobby blogging community needs you for what only you can bring. ☺ 

Thanks for sharing this great post with us, Yvette. I learned a lot and enjoyed the introduction to some new photo challenges.

Thank you, my and Yvette’s friends for joining us today on Always Write. I hope this post is another step in helping you to always be a happy hobby blogger.

Reminder

I want to remind everyone that those interested in Flash Fiction are invited to join me when I host the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest on October 20th-26th.

Carrot Ranch

YOUR Midlife Symphony – the Proactive Way to Avoid Irrelevance and Invisibility

Welcome to Leanne Le Cras.

Thank you so much for writing this guest post about your blogging journey for publication on Always Write. As part of the hobby blogger community, come in and sit down at the table.

Enjoy some of my husband’s special blend of coffee, tea, or blended mocha and one of my hot chocolate chip cookies.

Leanne shares how she takes a “proactive approach” to life to prevent becoming “invisible and irrelevant.” Her post reminds us that it is good to assess and redefine our lives NOW – no matter how old we are. Let’s listen in to her SYMPHONY.

My Midlife Symphony

Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to Marsha for inviting me to be a guest on her lovely blog. I met Marsha through our blogging friend Erica and a post about writing a 4 sentence eulogy (yes a weird but wonderful encounter!) On a different note, today I’d like to share my journey into creating my Midlife Symphony, and the joy it’s brought with it. 

LIFE’S SHORT

I started blogging six years ago – I was in my early 50’s and feeling like life was a bit blah. I think it was dawning on me that I was hitting the second half of life and I needed to become more proactive in preventing a slide downhill into feeling invisible and irrelevant. Blogging introduced me to an amazing new world full of interesting women (and a few men) who wrote about living their lives with purpose and positivity – they were thriving and embracing getting older – I loved that, and hopefully now I’ve become one of them.

I also heard about the idea of choosing a Word of the Year rather than making a New Year’s resolution and it’s been something I’ve embraced every January for the past 5 years. Sometimes my #WOTY just leaps out and other times it can take a while to arrive. This year I struggled with finding a word that encapsulated what I was feeling – basically I wanted something that said “Life’s short – make the most of every moment” and finally at the last moment it dawned on me that the quote I’d been using as my desktop background summed up beautifully what I was trying to get at and it was encapsulated by the very last word – SYMPHONY.

WHY SYMPHONY?

The quote was by William Henry Channing and goes like this:

“To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion, to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly, to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart, to bear all cheerfully, to all bravely await occasions, hurry never. In a word, to let the spiritual unbidden and unconscious grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony.”

It articulated perfectly all that I’d been gradually moving towards over the last five years – a life of contentment and appreciation, needing less, slowing down, focusing on what brings joy, and living on my own terms rather than how I thought others wanted me to be.

I finished work last year and spent many months recovering from the toxic environment I’d been dealing with. I realized I didn’t want to work any longer, I was happy with what we had – living frugally had paid off and we were debt free with no desire to amass more “stuff”. What I wanted to focus my attention on was making the most of the time I have left – investing in relationships, sinking my roots in deep, becoming a wise woman with a deep soul, and just being at peace with myself and the world around me. The quote spoke to me on so many levels, and it’s become my Midlife Symphony – the perfect direction for 2020.

ENJOYING ALL THE NOTES

So far this year has had a lot of ups and downs, the low notes included a pandemic that came in and turned our lives upside down, we’ve seen rioting and politics rampaging across the globe, financial failings, greedy hoarding, and social media in-fighting –  sometimes I think we all wonder what’s going on? But through it all, there are still so many high notes – I loved the community’s response to lockdown, teddies, rainbows, goodwill, singing, offers of help, government assistance, donations, appreciation of care workers, and so much more. People stepped up during the crisis and that makes my heart happy.

This quote from Albert Camus always reminds me that the world around us can be looking pretty grim, but we always have within us the ability to choose happiness.

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”

I like to think that my Symphony is all about choosing Summer every day despite the turmoil around me, about finding joy and living my best life right now in a calm and measured fashion. It’s about being true to myself and authentic in everything, and of course, shining my light and bringing some sunshine into the lives of others.

SHARING MY OPUS

When I started writing about how I wanted my Symphony to play out, I thought about all the other women out there who were also making the most of Midlife and I decided to invite anyone who was interested in sharing their story to write a guest post for me. In the six months that I hosted my Midlife Symphony guest series I had 15 guest posts (even one brave bloke put his hand up!) and they’ve added so much variety and interest to my blog this year. 

I feel like we’re all part of this second half of life orchestra and the notes resonate more perfectly because of that. I hope for each one of us, Midlife is all about caring, sharing, and becoming our best selves, and ultimately we’ll leave a legacy that reflects our own unique Symphony because you really can’t ask for much more than that.

BIO and Links 

Leanne lives in the beautiful southwest of Western Australia. She spends way too much of her spare time blogging about the highlights of Midlife at Cresting the Hill and shares the rest of her leisure time with her husband and two cats. Her two adult children have grown and flown, married and settled in the city, with an empty nest consolation prize of two delightful grandgirls to keep her young and on her toes. 

LINKS:

Blog:  Cresting the Hill

Facebook: Cresting the Hill

Pinterest: Leanne|crestingthehill

Email: leanne.lecras@gmail.com

Reminder All Y’all Hobby Bloggers

Carrot Ranch launches this year’s fabulous Rodeo Flash Fiction (and Poetry) Contest on October 5th. Week Three will happen RIGHT HERE on Always Write.

on this blog, Marsha Lee. You’re hosting a flash fiction contest on October 20th. Wahoo

How Responding to a Photo Challenge Focuses Your Writing and Increases Your Followers

How many pictures do you have that sit unused and unseen in your files? Hundreds, thousands? Be creative and put them to use where you and others can enjoy them time and again.

Allow me to introduce you to my friend Terri.  When I started this series on hosting challenges, the intent was to focus just on writing challenges. However, many bloggers do some of their best writing in response to photo challenges. 

If you host a writing or photo challenge, please contact me. I’d love to set up an interview/guest post with you.

Please, give Terri a huge Always Write welcome with tons of comments and likes. Don’t forget to participate in her challenge, Sunday Stills

SundayStills_blogbanner

Guest Post by Terri Webster Schrandt, Second Wind Leisure Perspective

Ⓒ 2020

My Blogging Journey 

I began blogging consistently in Fall 2014, as I neared retirement from my 32 years with a public parks and recreation organization. Like any blogger, I wanted to write interesting content and meet other bloggers. As I neared retirement, I thought I would start a consulting business and blogging seemed like a good fit for promoting it. Once I went back to university lecturing, teaching 15 units a year, I found I lacked the time to sustain a side business. 

I blog on the WordPress hosted platform which sponsored several blogging how-to’s and challenges. Some readers may remember the Blogging University which taught new bloggers about the basics of blogging (Blogging 101) and Photography 101. In 2014, not only did I meet and follow new bloggers, but I also grew a set of followers as a result of the community that developed around the challenges. 

It was during this time I realized I had a knack for photography and used my background in art and journalism to write posts about recreation and leisure using my original images. 

I learned quickly that including an image with a blog post created visual interest and attracted more readers. Over time I was inspired to write my first short book Better Blogging with Photography which continues to sell worldwide on Amazon. 

Better Blogging with Photography cover
Better Blogging with Photography

Like any blogger, I wanted to write interesting content and meet other bloggers.

What prompted you to begin to host a photo challenge?

Challenges bring new readers, interest, and engagement to any blog. Challenges fit well within the framework of hobby blogging. 

I always enjoyed the WordPress Weekly photo challenge early on in my blogging journey and I discovered other challenges and participated in link parties. This was during the time I was building my readership and meeting new bloggers. I enjoyed the Sunday Stills Photography Challenge, but the original host announced he was through with blogging and called it quits. 

My own blog morphed into photography with emphasis on fitness, leisure, and recreation. After a lengthy blogging break in early 2018, I woke up one night with the idea that I could reinstate and host Sunday Stills myself. The timing was rather interesting. I jumped back in with Sunday Stills in May 2018 just as WordPress announced the end of its ridiculously popular weekly photo challenge. 

What is your purpose in hosting the challenge? How does it help photographers?

The purpose is simple: to inspire others to create images related to a weekly theme. I am challenged, too, as I select each month’s themes in advance. Many photo challenges out there are very specific to photography techniques and their hosts are not only a wealth of information about photography techniques, but accomplished photographers in their own right. 

Photobloggers help each other in this way by sharing techniques, ideas and continuing support and enthusiasm for each other’s work. 

One photographer in northern California went so far as to recommend a camera to me. For that I am eternally grateful for his advice and support. 

I also believe that images help create the idea for the story when inspiration is lacking. 

Bloggers are not limited to posting only on Sundays, as they have all week to share their own post and images.

How much time does it take to create a blogging challenge?

It can take 5-10 hours a week. Just creating my own post and prepping my images for publication often takes me 3-5 hours. Being that this has a weekly theme, I first decide on each month’s set of themes. I publish this on my Sunday Stills page so the planners of the blogosphere can plan their images and posts in advance. Of course, I must find my own images for each theme, post-edit them, and write a post that not only showcases my images but provides examples for other participants. I comment and share each post on Twitter and Facebook when possible. Bloggers are not limited to posting only on Sundays, as they have all week to share their own post and images. Some of the time spent is checking daily for new pingbacks and approve, comment and share. 

What steps do you take to get your challenge ready? 

At the end of each month, I choose themes and post them one month advance on my Photography page. I choose photos that highlight the theme while writing a title and post that is general but inspiring to other bloggers.

How do you follow up with your participants? I post every Sunday at 7:00 am Pacific Time and bloggers read and many link to the challenge. I approve links, read and comment on each post and share on social media.

How did you attract people to participate? 

I have a good following and many folks seem to enjoy my photography. Sunday Stills had been popular, and many were excited to see it come back. As I join other challenges, other bloggers find my blog and participate in my challenge.

Is your challenge like a club where you put a widget on your website or embed something on your post? 

Not really, but I have a Sunday Stills image widget on my sidebar where bloggers can click to the page for more information.

Do you determine winners? If so, how? 

No, everyone is a winner! I share posts of new bloggers in the first day of the month’s post with links to their blogs. 

I also grew a set of followers as a result of the community that developed around the challenges. 

Do you post or promote the results or links anywhere? 

I share Sunday Stills posts to my Facebook Page or Twitter, sometimes on Pinterest.  When I began Sunday Stills, I hosted a link-up on INLinkz for a few months. Not as many linked to it, so I stopped after a few months.

For my favorite photos, you can see more at  https://secondwindleisure.com/2019/11/24/sunday-stills-your-favorite-photo/

Bio

Terri is a writer, self-published author and retired recreation and parks practitioner living in Northern California. As a university lecturer teaching various courses in the recreation and parks major, Terri takes leisure very seriously because it involves one-third of our lives…really!

Her active lifestyle involves stand-up paddling, camping, hiking, reading, writing, gardening, walking the dogs, traveling, and photography.

Second Wind Leisure Perspectives is her blog about leisure, fitness and photography.

Connect with Terri

Blog: https://secondwindleisure.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SecondWindLeisurePerspectives/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/windigenredhead
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/terri.websterschrandt/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/aquachica/

More about the images I chose:

I added five of my favorite images that represent milestones on my photography journey and some good luck!

This one titled Autumn in Quincy, taken with a point-and-shoot digital camera in 2010, was the first image where I received many compliments and suggestions for entering it into contests.

I captured the plumeria with my galaxy edge mobile phone. It was the first plumeria I grew in 2019.

The sunflower with the bee was also captured with the same mobile phone in 2019, truly a lucky shot!

The windsurfer and my dog Brodie were taken in July 2017, with my Lumix FZ300, my beloved bridge camera with a long travel lens. Both represent action shots that were taken in major zoom mode but details still stood up to the wind and action.

Thank you so much, for participating in this series on writing and photo challenges, Terri. It was great having you here.

Related Posts

What to Do When Your Muse Disappears 60,000 Words Into Your Book

You don’t give up when your muse leaves town. You start a new challenge. Join me in giving author Suzanne Burke a warm Always Write welcome!

Always Write Series: #Bloggers Hosting Writing Challenges

Writing Challenge hostess #1 Suzanne Burke AKA Soooz

Have you wanted to write fiction and struggled to get started? Or maybe you wrote a book, and your muse disappeared or you got snagged somewhere in the process of publication.

If this sounds like you, read on.

Author, Suzanne Burke hosts a flash fiction challenge and supports her participants with multiple social media shares. 

As I read her posts, it occurred to me how much goes into hosting a writing challenge of any kind. She responds graciously to every comment in her inbox. 

After exchanging a few comments and emails, I feel like I have known her forever. 

Suzanne agreed to write the first guest post/interview for Always Write to tell authors everywhere how she started and what it is like to host a writing challenge. 

Take it away Soooz.

Firstly, my grateful thanks to Marsha for inviting me here today. I hope I have given you a glimpse into my experience hosting a visual writing prompt. 

Q: What prompted you to begin to host a writing challenge? 

A: It all came down to the timing. I was already 60k into my latest WIP (work in progress) when my muse decided to grab a stagecoach and get out of Dodge. It’s happened before and the frustration and procrastination genies were warring with each other for dominance. I needed to commit to something creative, something I would also need to contribute to. That’s when the idea was born. 

Soooz

I can feel your pain. I have never made it to the end of a fiction publication. Grrrrrr.

Q: How long have you been doing this? 

A: It’s only been six weeks since the first prompt went up. It’s been a huge learning curve. But I’m having a marvelous time with it.

Soooz

Q: How much time does it take? Is it all-consuming so that you don’t blog about anything else?

 

A: I must admit that I underestimated just how time-consuming the process would be. I spend many hours scouring the internet for free to use images. Images engage the creative juices. We writers tend to be intensely visual creatures, taking mental snapshots of everything that catches our muse’s attention. 

Soooz

The marionette image evokes some strong emotions. Your 750-word example kept me on the edge of my seat. 

I heard recently in a class that a blog needs some type of image every 100 words. I use Canva.com and have tried Unsplash.com as well. They both have thousands of images you can sort through in the click of a search word.

Q: How did you determine the genre?

A: I chose not to impose a genre restriction. That tends to isolate some folks from participating. I’ve been lucky to have had some wonderfully diverse entries, yours included, Marsha.

Soooz

Thank you, Soooz, with three o’s.

Q: What steps do you take to get your challenge ready? 

A: Because it can take almost a week and sometimes just before the deadline before the entries start coming in. I write my own contribution during that time. 

Then I share all the entries over the course of the week. 

Soooz

That’s a benefit for your participants to build the traffic to their blogs. 

I check daily for comments on the Author’s blogs who have shared the challenge, respond to those. 

Another great benefit to those who submit, Soooz. I found my entry that you shared on Twitter. How fun! I also found a typo in my customized excerpt. I need a better proofreader.

I’ve had a great response doing that. Finally, I put up the next week’s prompt. I’m determined to still make time to write and post Book Reviews and support other authors on my blog. 

Soooz

Q: How did you attract people to participate? / How do people usually find out about your challenge? 

A: I have been so fortunate to have met some wonderfully talented and supportive writers since my first foray into writing. Many belong to an online book club I’m a member of, and still others I’ve met via Twitter, all have been amongst the most generous and supportive folks I’ve ever met. These folks share my posts via tweets and the word begins to spread. I find Twitter to be a very effective platform.

Soooz

Q: Do you have help reading all the entries?

A: No, I enjoy reading all of them.

Soooz

Q: What do you do with the entries – like do you ever publish anthologies, award widget certificates?

A: I’m keeping it as simple as possible at the moment. I may use some of my own entries in an anthology in the future.

Soooz

In Conclusion

Thank you, so much for this wonderful post, Suzanne, Soooz, S., Stacey. It’s been a super pleasure to have you as the first interview/guest post in the Always Write #Bloggers Hosting Writing Challenges Series.

I hope you will come back to write another guest post again.

Links

Contact Suzanne at …

Her author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

Biography

Suzanne Burke resides with her daughter and grandson in a small country town located hundreds of miles to the west of her previous home in Sydney Australia.

Life interrupted her routine and allowed her to begin her journey into the world of writing in her early fifties, a journey she’d wanted to start for many years.

You can find Suzanne’s memoirs under the pen name of Stacey Danson.  Search for her powerful thrillers Acts Beyond Redemption and Acts of Betrayal and her paranormal anthology Mind-Shaft under the name S. Burke. 

Both of Suzanne’s non-fiction books, Empty Chairs and Faint Echoes of Laughter, have ranked in the top one hundred paid in Kindle on Amazon and continue to earn wonderful reviews.

Welcome Suzanne with your comments and check out her #6 Challenge.

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