inspiration, nanowrimo, writer's life

Heather Goes to Camp

I’ve been away from the blog for a few weeks and for two very good reasons: 1) I have been hard at work putting the finishing touches on my soon to be released novel, Light In The Darkness. And, 2) I went to camp.

That’s right, folks. This thirty-something mother of three went to camp for a week with a bunch of the coolest teens I know. We got dirty, down right stinky nasty running around and playing crazy games in the hot southern sun. We played games like Fish Baseball and Zombie Apocalypse Capture the Flag. We built a giant slip-n-slide. We swam in the river and had a blast. It was a wild and crazy week.

One of the things I enjoyed most about camp was meeting so many amazing kids. I discovered that two of my young friends hope to be writers someday (Hi, Anna and Kaitlyn!) and enjoyed talking with them about books they love and the stories they plan to write. I talked with a few gals who insisted they hate to read and are terrible in school (Hi, Rose and DeeAnn!) and this shocked me because they were so very cool and smart. I wish I could be their teacher for a year or two and share with them all of my favorite books and teach them how very fun and fabulous writing can be.  I hope they will stop by the site to visit once in a while and maybe pick up one of the books I have shared in You Gotta Read posts.

Another awesome thing about visiting camp as a writer is the concentrated look at teen relationships that you get in a week of camp. We saw young love and heartbreak, major girl drama and teen angst.  Mostly I saw a lot of great friendships bloom out of seemingly nowhere. We all arrived strangers and left with friends. What an amazing thing. Those memories will be useful when I am creating new characters in my YA books this next year. You can’t beat the experience of real life when you are crafting fiction.

How about you? Did you go to camp this summer? Did you meet any totally cool kids that you wish you could hang out with all year? What awesome new experiences will you be using in your writing this year?

If you’ve got a fabulous idea for a story, why not go ahead and write it? It’s too hot to do much of anything else, so a few hours at your computer desk or on your bed with a pen and a notebook will keep you cool and entertained. Besides, mom and dad can’t get too irritated when they find you writing a book instead of watching tv, right? Man, I’d give my kids cookies for that!

Here’s a great way to help you get started: Camp Nanowrimo! You can join thousands of other writers around the world who are racing to get their stories written before August 31st.  That’s a whole book written in a month!  Think it can’t be done? It can and its a blast.  The perfect kick in the seat to get you motivated to get that story that’s been bouncing around in your brain for years out and into the open page. Sign up now and scroll through their website to see all the fun and silliness that can be had when a bunch of writers jump into the word frenzy that is writing a book in a month.  It’s a blast.  As a matter of fact, my first very first novel was written during Nanowrimo a few years ago. Now I’m getting ready to share it with the world in just a few short days. You never know what magic can happen when you sit down with that idea and let it all out onto the blank page.


Gotta Write,Heather
writer's life, writing games

Road Trip Games for Word Lovers

Road trips are my favorite summer pastime!  Every summer my family would take a few trips to visit family or go camping.  We never had big fancy vacations until I was in high school, so a six hour drive to grandma’s was as good as it was gonna get.  My parents are incredibly creative and made the journeys in a cramped car without air conditioning across west Texas or southern Oklahoma seem like an adventure.  The car catches on fire? How cool!  Bet you haven’t seen that before, hey kids?  We run out of coolant and need to hike off-road to a nearby stream to carry water back to the car?  Awesome!

Aside from vehicular mishaps, my parents taught us car games like The Alphabet Game.  My husband came into the family with a few car games himself, but they mostly involved counting things like tractors and grain towers. Now we have a few kids and find ourselves taking to the road ourselves, only with more reliable cars.  Our crew is pretty imaginative and loves a good challenge.  So, here are a few of the road games we’ve created to keep the boredom and sibling infighting at bay:

Where’d That Come From?
This game is like I Spy for the story loving crowd.  Spot something random or fairly unexplainable along the way and pose this question to the crowd.  Take turns coming up with a fantastic explanation for how the bizarre item could have come to rest in that location.  The more ridiculous the explanation, the more my crew would cheer.  Hubby added the rule in our car that you had to have at least five sentences to your story.  This keeps you from just throwing out the same silly statements each time like “Aliens!” or “Terrorists!”  Elaborate.  Make it more exciting.  Hubby’s advice to our crew: add back story.  What happened to create the scenario where aliens ended up breaking the fence along the roadway so that the cows escaped?  Why were the terrorists creating secret bombs that look like trash bags the highway crews leave along the side of the road?  Back story is where it’s at, people!  Of course, this game got wildly out of control after a few turns and we began adding on to each other’s ideas so that our stories were more like 20 minutes long.  Very entertaining!

Examples from our recent road trip:
Why is that town named Wooster?
How did that school bus end up in the middle of a field?
Why does that water tower have a giant hole in it?

 Billboard Songs
We love music!  This one is fun for those of you who know a bajillion songs and like to show off.  That describes my husband pretty well, so he made up this game for us.  Actually, it started like this: We saw a sign that reminded us each of a song.  He started singing his and I laughed because it reminded me of a different song, which I sang for him.  That’s how it all began.  Soon we were competing to see who could come up with the most songs.  Each sign we passed had one of us bursting into song based on one word or phrase from the billboard.  For example “We’ll keep the light on for you” becomes “This little light of mine” or “Valley View Retirement Center” becomes “Down in the valley…”

You could make it more challenging by calling out a sign/word and everyone takes turns coming up with songs from that one sign.  When no one else can come up with a song, the last person to sing gets to choose the next sign.

Alphabet Game
This is an old one and most of you know it, but just in case you missed the awesome fun of The Alphabet Game, here are the rules. Everyone starts at A.  Look at signs you pass (they must be signs! No truck logos or words found in the car!) When you see a word with the letter you are seeking, call it out.  So, you might see a sign that says For Sale.  You yell, “Sale! A!” and then move on to the letter B.  Everyone else now has to find a word that is not Sale and has the letter A while you are searching for B.  You’re winning!  Whoever gets to Z first wins.  It’s tricky because there are only so many words that use Q, Z, and X.  So, if your obnoxious little brother yells “Exit! E!” then you are going to be tortured when you find yourself sitting at X and passing exit signs.  Everyone learns to save certain words for when they hit the hard letters.  That, or they cheat.  My mom would get bored with this half way through and wish she had never suggested it.  I think she preferred to listen to our bickering over the constant shouting of random words and letters.  We would add to this torment by declaring a rematch, beginning again at A the minute anyone hit Z.  Hint: This game does not work well with small children.  Just because they know their a,b,c’s does not mean you will enjoy playing with them.  Everyone needs to be a reader to make this as cutthroat fun as possible. 🙂

Then What Happened?
I play this game with my writing club each year.  It’s easy and lots of fun.  Start off a story with a basic sentence that leaves room for the story to grow.  Then, the person beside you adds a sentence to the story.  Go around the circle/car adding sentences until you come to a ridiculous end and then start over.  If you get stuck, you can always use some of our story starters.  We usually end up trying to trump each other with the most ridiculous, most silly or most disgusting sentences.  It gets wildly out of control.  But then again, most of our games do.  I think that’s because we are wildly out of control… uh, I mean fun.

Do you have any wordy games you like to play in the car?  We would love to try out a few new ones.  Leave the instructions in the comment section and we’ll give your game a whirl next time we’re in the long stretch between civilization in a mini-van.