How to troll a coder

I met up with my writer’s group last night for the first time since August.

We tried this new writing prompt we got off Reddit of all places. It turned out to be super fun:

Write about something you don’t understand. No research allowed!

We came up with our own topics.

It had to be something that at least one of us knew something about, so we could “vet” our stories, so to speak.

I got the task of writing about Hacking a Bank. These unedited results are deliciously awful (as expected):


Her palms were cold and sweaty. She rubbed them on her pant legs with a rough one-two and then her fingers resumed their frenzy on the keyboard. The encoder showed a flowing stream of lined code, invisible zeros and ones working behind her complex algorithm.

It was a couple weeks since she came across the idea of hacking a bank. At first, it was just jokes around the lunch table with her coder buddies. But she realized they were on to something and began secretly working on her side project in the evenings.

She drafted up a program that could penetrate the firewall in Goliath National Bank’s VLAN network.

Hah, idiots! she thought.

They only had one VLAN and the encryption, as she quickly discovered, was minimally secure. All she had to do was crack the firewall enough to access the Head of IT’s local files. She cloaked her signal and downloaded the files to her computer.

Now she had access to the bank’s international transfer codes.

She swiped any trace of her presence clean with a tap, tap, tap of her keyboard. She was sitting on a goldmine of information.

Ones and zeros soon to become dollars and cents.

 

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Writing workshop: Smell (FINALLY!)

It finally happened. After weeks of postponing it, my group finally did the writing workshop on Smell. To be honest, I wasn’t as prepared for this workshop as I usually am, so I feel it could have used more work if I were to do it again.

For this workshop on smell, I brought some random items in little containers: dirt, marshmallows, and a cotton pad soaked in vinegar. The idea for this workshop was to choose two of the items and write a scene around these two smells. We chose the marshmallows and the vinegar, because the dirt from my backyard doesn’t have a distinct enough smell.

We took about 25 minutes and I gotta say, it was harrrrrd. I didn’t get to the second item because I was just so ridiculously blocked. I think it’s because during my internship, I wasn’t writing much and I’m now just a bit rusty…just a bit. 😦

I did manage to squeeze out some kind of scene but I did a lot of crossing out.


“Alana,” my mother warned, “Don’t tap on the glass. It might fall and break.”

“Geez, mom. I’m being careful” I said, putting my hands into the pockets of my hoodie. I spun around to walk towards the cereal aisle, but my right elbow, which was jutting out at an angle, caught the big glass jar of pickles I had just been tapping. The sharp stink of vinegar was all over me. All my mother could do was shut her eyes slowly and let out a sigh that said, “Why me?”

My mother quickly flagged down the man behind the deli counter who came in like a knight on a white horse, except the horse was a mop and his armor was a stained apron.

“Jesus, Alana. You smell like you bathed in pickles. I’m this close to letting you walk home” she huffed as she unloaded the cart into the trunk of our Toyota Camry. She was right. Vinegar has a way of hooking its sharp claws into your skin. Hours after, I was scrubbing my hands for the fifth time, but the smell continued to tickle my nose. Eventually, the smell went from a sharp acidity to a duller mustiness and then gone.


There you have it. A very uninteresting story about vinegar. I think it’s safe to say that I’m stuck in a writing rut. Let’s hope that next week breaks me of that. We’ll be doing a writing prompt on the theme: OUT OF THE ASHES.

 

 

Internship at Movellas

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On Monday, I started a 4 week internship at this small, but feisty site Movellas! It’s a site where writers can publish their stories and get feedback from other writers. In turn, you can also read other people’s works, often as they’re being written. It’s kind of like podcasts for writing or something.

It’s a young crowd, ranging mostly in the teens, which probably scares more seasoned writers away, but I think its youth makes it really unique. The writing is mostly fiction (yay for me!) and a lot of it is fan fiction. People like to hate on fan fic writers and if I’m honest, I used to be one of the haters back in the day. Then one evening, I came across some Harry Potter fan fic on Tumblr and an hour later, I was still reading. I think if you love a fictional universe, fan fic is a creative way to keep the universe alive. And for those who think it is unimaginative to hijack existing characters instead of creating original characters, you obviously have not read some of these amazing storylines and plot twists that fan fic writers come up with.

Anyway, that’s my spiel on fan fiction. So far, the internship is going well. I feel like my English Lit degree is being put to good use in the writing world. I’ll even be setting up my own writing competition soon!

Oh, which is another cool thing about Movellas. They have writing competitions going on pretty much constantly. And I swear, they didn’t tell me to say this stuff. I’m not even getting paid. I’m just super excited to work with people who love reading and writing as much as I do!

If you do happen to find Movellas interesting and sign up, my user name is Jess N. Look me up.

//Jess

Writing workshop, interrupted

I had a workshop on smell planned for this week. Unfortunately, everyone who signed up canceled at the last minute. Those are just the risks involved when you’re the organizer.

At least I got to write something while I waited for people to show up. So, no workshop this week, but here are the results of me with time to think. Continue reading

Writing Workshop on Senses #1: Taste

Our group is taking on a workshop series on all the senses. When the idea for this workshop series came to me, I got super excited about it. I knew this first workshop on Taste would be a challenge, because how can one really write about taste besides the obvious list of adjectives?

For this workshop on taste, everyone brought a different fruit to share. Since we had a lot of fruit and limited time, we chose 3 fruits (orange, banana, lime). The idea was to eat a piece of fruit, then take 10 minutes to write down the experience of eating that particular fruit. For example, its taste, its texture, what it makes us feel or remember. After each fruit, we went around and shared what we wrote. The range of things people wrote was simply amazing. At one point, there was even an epic rant on how bananas suck. Safe to say, it was hilarious! Anyway, here were my thoughts after I tasted a piece of banana.


 

Banana

It tastes exactly like it smells—sweet, but a dull earthiness to it. A waxy resin from the peel attaches itself to the sides of your tongue. The banana is a subtle fruit, but just as powerful a taste as orange. It lingers and its taste grows. And that is the type of fruit it is too; the longer it sits and gets ripe, the more strong it becomes in its taste, like wisdom.

My mother used to serve us Mexican rice with bananas (some call it Spanish rice). The earthy taste of the banana was the perfect complement that brought out the sweet acidity in the tomato. And somehow it made the bouillon in the rice taste more savoury. It is the perfect food for kids: bananas with Mexican rice.

Banana changes when you bake with it. It becomes more of a smell than a taste. It browns and you can taste its brownness fermenting in your nose.


I think this workshop series will be a great exercise in using senses other than sight in our writing. Fiction really comes to life when a writer can capture all of the senses.

Be sure to look out for the second part in this workshop series, which will cover how to write about smell.

Tavi Turtle: a children’s book about self esteem and healthy coping

My cousin is amazing and wrote a cute children’s book called Tavi Turtle: Unique and Accepted. She even did all the drawings herself! She’s a therapist with many years experience working with kids and teens, so she really knows her stuff when it comes to how kids deal with self esteem issues.

I’m a mom and I know as a parent we don’t like to think our children have stressful lives, especially when we take such good care of them. But let’s face it, the world is a stressful place! I want to make sure I do my best to give my son the support he needs to deal with this crazy world. I’m down for any book that’s going to help me talk with my kid about what they’re dealing with. And if it has an adorable turtle in it, then I’m sold.

It would mean the world to my cousin if you liked the Tavi Turtle Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TaviTurtle

You can buy her book as a soft cover or e-book from Balboa Press: http://bookstore.balboapress.com/Products/SKU-000986188/Tavi-Turtle-Unique-and-Accepted.aspx

This has been shameless promo for a close family member. 🙂

Writing Prompt: Breaking Away

This week, our group met on Monday, instead of Thursday, so you get the writing prompt early! *throws confetti*

The theme was Breaking Away. For some reason, what came to my mind straight away was a break up scene. I’m not sure about posting my piece for this prompt, because it got a little racy. The premise of the story is pretty straightforward: Eloise and Alejandra are in the middle of an argument and Eloise is breaking it off with Alejandra after 10 years together. Alejandra tries her last measure by seducing Eloise. They sleep together, but in the morning when Alejandra wakes up, she discovers Eloise is gone.

It is my second time writing a sex scene and my first time writing a lesbian one. I have to say my biggest struggle is pronouns! I can’t just say “she did this, then she did that” because it isn’t always clear which “she” I am referring to. And it annoys me to keep saying “Eloise’s this and Alejandra’s that.”

Does anyone know a way around this? Or have any tips in general for writing erotic scenes? Not that I think I’ll be writing a whole lot of erotic fiction, but it’s always good to be well informed. 🙂