April 2017 Writing Challenge

The goal is to write something for each day of April according to the prompts below. You can do them one day at a time, or you can do it the “professional way” and schedule them ahead of time in your blog. (That’s what I normally do…) This year is a little different, though: I’m including some formatting limits to really work those writer muscles, including word limits, style prompts, and other qualifiers. I may actually have a real honest-to-goodness prize in mind for someone (besides me) who finishes them all and follows all the rules – and that something might be a hand-painted mug (that I finally found and unpacked the other day). Send me a link to your blog to be considered for that part. Let the fun begin!
  1. Describe three weird things you do when you’re alone, using only five-word sentences, limit of fifteen sentences total.
  2. Write a conversation with the “you” of five years ago. Focus on how you’ve changed and grown, but do not give away any details about actual events. (No spoilers!)
  3. Think about the kind of person you are attracted to. Write a three-paragraph story from their perspective as they meet you for the first time. (Assume they like you.)
  4. What do you want to be if you grow up? Describe your best-case career scenario in three paragraphs, each covering a concurrent year.
  5. Pretend you are a grumpy old codger. Write a letter to the newspaper about something trivial that irritates you.
  6. What are your most attractive qualities? Describe them as a separate character, limit 500 words.
  7. Is cheating an ender for a relationship? State your actual view in the first sentence, limit 20 words, and then spend 500 words defending the opposite view.
  8. Describe something you’re currently worrying about and imagine how it gets resolved involving a mythical beast, limit 1000 words.
  9. Use at least 1500 words to describe your favorite way(s) to waste time. Your time-waster cannot produce anything useful.
  10. Tell your thoughts on mind-altering substances (alcohol, drugs, etc.). Do you like them? Which ones? Why? You don’t like them? Why not? Limit 500 words.
  11. Describe your current relationship status (and views) in haiku, 17 stanzas.
  12. Write a short letter to your first ex to send back in time to the day after you met, telling them what your relationship is going to be like and giving them advice concerning that. No word limit, but don’t beat a dead horse.
  13. Describe the perfect date to go on in second person perspective. (That’s where you describe the actions of the reader, i.e. “You open the door the restaurant and you immediately smell garlic.”)
  14. Describe something that disgusts you and why. Use as much onomatopoeia as you can.
  15. Describe the best thing to happen to you this year, so far, from a limited third person perspective, which is to say, the actions are happening to a third person but you cannot describe the internal thoughts or feelings, only show the reactions.
  16. Three things about your personality that you are proud of. Use popular or historical references to other people who have those same traits. (Limit 500 words.)
  17. Think of something that scares you. Write a 500-word (or less) horror story describing that fear and how you vanquish it. (Magical swords and mystical spells are completely acceptable.)
  18. Write a letter to your parents collectively to be delivered a week before you are conceived, warning them about an event of your childhood. This could be a “don’t leave me alone with that man” or “hide the matches”.
  19. You are now given the ability to freeze time for 30 minutes once a day, during which time you can manipulate anything around you. What would you do the third time you use this power? Limit 1000 words, and you can be anywhere in the world.
  20. Think about the last argument you had. In 500 words, defend the position of the other person (even if you don’t agree).
  21. Describe something you can’t seem to get over. Design a spell, ritual, or beast that can resolve the problem for you.
  22. List five things that people are surprised to learn about you. Include one thing that is false. 100 words per entry.
  23. What was your last “what if” statement? Follow the thought train of that “what if” for at least 500 words.
  24. Describe your religious beliefs without mentioning the name of any deities or rituals.
  25. Have you ever had a peak experience? Describe it in under 500 words. If not, describe what you think a peak experience would feel like and what you think might trigger one for you.
  26. Think about a time when you thought you might die (injured or sick). How would those around you have reacted if you’d actually passed away? Describe the funeral service.
  27. You wake up with superpowers, but they come with one big disadvantage. Describe both sides, and how you might use them to be a hero or a villain. At least 500 words.
  28. You wake up with completely different superpowers, also with one big disadvantage. Describe trying to have a completely ordinary life despite those powers. At least 500 words.
  29. It is the night before a big event. Describe how you would deal with the sense of anticipation, of “almost there”. 500 words.
  30. Tell me about your greatest love. Do not use names. Describe the person physically, describe their personality, and then tell me what you adore about them. Lastly, tell me about one or more of their flaws, and how you cope with it. No word limit.

An Update on Muggings

Twin Hearts muggingRemember when I was talking about doing those hand-painted mugs?  And remember how I pulled the plug on that project because the internet is full of liars?

Well, I think I found the problem and fixed it.

Just to be clear, the original internet legend says that you’re supposed to be able to use oil-based Sharpie brand pens to create awesome designs on already-glazed porcelain.  The advice they give, though, is that “the cheaper the glaze, the better it sticks.”

Eff a bunch of that noise, in my opinion.  I like high quality mugs, I like solid cups that I can trust to not have obscene levels of lead or mercury or whatever the newest cost-cutting Chinese second-rate glaze is made of this year.  (Did you know there’s no industrial regulation in China?  That’s why it’s so cheap to get stuff made over there – any standards have to be enforced by the company that runs the factory.)

My personal favorite is BIA Cordon Bleu mugs.  I love the sizes, I love the shapes, and I love the glaze.  And I don’t love how even only hand-washing my hand-painted mugs, the designs started falling right off.  (Bloody stupid Sharpies…)  Oh, and the amazing rich-color designs I love to do?  Sharpies fade to bizarre and not-okay colors.  The amazing journey of the sea turtles through the blue-and-green ocean turned into the sludgy trek of the sea turtles through brown-and-sickly-ochre sewage.

Not good eats.


Y’all know how much I love painting on weird things I shouldn’t normally be painting on, so I went on a quest to find out out how the hell to make it work, and I think I solved the problem.

Testors enamel such as the kind you use to paint model cars is much more durable than oil-based pens.  But wait!  Isn’t that pretty NOT food-safe?  Why, you’re totally right – until you cure in it a low oven in the same way you would the Sharpie mugs, which is the same reason you cure the Sharpie mugs.  I repainted the Darling Beloved’s gryphon mug with the enamel pens, and the only place the enamel has come off was where the old Sharpie paint was still hanging on – and that’s after being put in the dishwasher several times!

And just to revisit the “low oven” method:  Let the painted mug sit for at least 24 hours after the last bit of painting is finished before curing it.  Place the mug on a cookie sheet in a COLD oven, turn the heat on to 350º F (175º C), leave it there for around 30 minutes, and then turn the oven off and LEAVE THE MUG IN THERE.  Do not open the door.  Let the heat come down nice and easy.  This is not about the mug being too hot to handle (though, DUH!), it’s about exposing the porcelain to such a massive temperature change that it violates the integrity of the material, which can cause cracks that will turn to breaks either immediately or over a slightly longer period of time.

For instance, have you ever gotten a really nice hand-painted mug from a friend of yours, used it for hot coffee, gone to pick up the mug, and then ended up with just the handle and part of the mug in your hand with the rest of the mug on the table and the hot coffee all over your papers and magazines and autographed copy of “Stardust” that happened to still be on the floor where it landed the night before after you fell asleep reading it?

Me, too.

So, to my crafty friends, that’s how to get around the embarrassing problem of making amazing-yet-temporary art-on-mugs.  Go pro or go home.  To my other friends, this means that my Etsy store will soon have an excellent selection of muggings available for purchase.  (Yes, I know it’s still a little rough around the edges, don’t judge me just yet, I’m working on it.)