Sunday, January 31, 2016



Lillie was bored. Work, home, the occasional walk at the beach. It was during one of these walks that she spotted the camera. She looked around. The beach was practically deserted. A few surfers challenged the waves. She grabbed the camera and wiped the sand away. Then, she clicked the power button. And there it was, someone else’s life. The family get-together. A birthday and a wedding. The pregnant girlfriend and the beach, this beach. Suddenly, Lillie’s life wasn’t boring any more. She had to find these people. Yes, and in the meantime, she’d be the keeper of their past.

Sunday, January 24, 2016



How much does a thought weigh? Is it as light as a flowing feather? Or as heavy as a broken heart? Is it as light as your deepest love or as heavy as your worst fear? And how much does the future weigh? More than the past? Less than the present? How much does a thought weigh when you’re afraid? Does it make you stare at the sky or does it make you sink in the ground? Is it as heavy as a string of tears or as light as a row of beads? How much does a thought weigh?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Loose Ends

1. Take control of your writing – You’re the boss. It’s interesting to hear about other writers’ experiences, to learn from them, but each one of us has his/her own path to tread. Listen to advice, but make your own decisions.

2. Read – as much as you can. Read all types of texts too. The more you read, the richer your writing will be.

3. Educate others – to respect your writing time. When you establish a writing routine and a writing schedule, your family, friends, neighbors will understand that you are not to be interrupted, unless there’s a life-threatening situation.

4. When asked, – give your opinion about the writing of your peers. Consider the difference between giving an opinion about the story and giving an opinion about the writing of the story.

5. Finally, - thank the host of the writing session. It’ll encourage him/her to continue to provide an event that gathers fellow writers, motivates them to share and, above all, to write.

Join us at Milk Wood in Second Life!

Useful Information:

What is Milk Wood?
Schedule of Write-Ins at Milk Wood:
 (all times SLT/ +8 PRT/UK)

   Mon-Fri: 2am, 6am, 8am, 12noon and 6pm
   Sat: 2am, 8am, 12noon
   Sun: 2am, 8am, 12noon

Location in Second Life – Milk Wood
Virtual Writers Website
Virtual Writers Writing Prompts

More Take 5!

Friday, January 22, 2016

When You Just Don’t Feel Like It

1. I Have No Idea – what to write about today… Sometimes we draw a blank. We haven’t slept well, we are concerned, we can’t seem to be able to focus. Set you work in progress aside for a day or two and WRITE WHAT COMES TO YOUR MIND. Don’t think too much about what you’re writing. Just write as if you were talking to your best friend. This will reduce your stress level and still give you a sense of achievement at the end of the writing session.

2. Having To Write, – there’s something I hate. Anything that resembles an obligation is a perfectly acceptable reason to seek refuge in procrastination. Resist the temptation. WRITE ONE SENTENCE. It doesn’t really matter about what or even if it’s a well structured, inspired sentence. Just write.

3. I Write Too Slowly - compared to others… Peer-pressure, even if unspoken, is also a tempting reason to seek refuge in procrastination. Does it really matter how quickly you write? Some writing sessions have a word target to reach, but this is only a way to encourage them to write more than they would if left to their own decisions. If you think you write too slowly, compared to your peers, set YOUR OWN WORD GOAL.

4. I Don’t Like The Prompt – and it doesn’t fit my story at all. A prompt is a challenge. It suggests ideas. It gives you options. If the prompt doesn’t work for story you’re writing at the moment, CREATE YOUR OWN LIST OF PROMPTS. You can resort to your list whenever you think the prompt suggested by the host of the write-in won’t help.

5. I Don’t Like Rules – and the write-in I attend has several. But you still would like to attend and that is good. Having a given length of time to write, a specific prompt and a minimum number of words you should aim to write could be viewed as constraints, as pesky rules. Yet, their aim is to help you push yourself beyond your comfort zone. In the end, you’re in control. If you don’t like any of the rules, SET YOUR OWN RULES.

What’s really important is to WRITE.
And writing alongside people from all over the world is an amazing experience.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

At a Writing Session - Double Do’s

Here are a few suggestions of what to do when attending a writing session. The purpose is not to be sanctimonious. The purpose is to improve the way the group functions.


1. Be Punctual – Unless something unexpected happened, be on time. It’s a sign of respect towards your fellow writers and the host.

2. Be Polite - Behind the avatar is a person. When you arrive, greet everyone present. When you leave say goodbye. And if your viewer crashes and you don’t really have time to log in again to say a proper farewell, mention what happened the next day. Everyone will appreciate it.

3. Be Friendly – If you have to go AFK (away from your computer) drop a line in local/nearby chat letting everyone know. The same happens for when you get back to your computer. This helps with the logistics of the event, avoiding delays or misunderstandings.

4. Be Social – Writing is the main goal of the event, granted. Some writers don’t attend the writing session to socialize, granted. Nevertheless, it’s important to spend a bit of time chatting with your peers. It strengthens the group ties and it promotes empathy.

5. Be Generous – During the socializing period, group members usually talk about their stories, about their favorite writers. Notice which genre each one of them focuses on. If you come across something you think might be interesting for them, even though it’s not your genre, bring it to write-in and share it - new resources for writers, a nice photo that could become a prompt, an interesting article.

And Do’s

1. Avoid Monopolizing the Conversation - … and talking only about your story, your writing method, your characters, and your writing world. Allow others to talk about their work as well. Ask questions and show interest.

2. Use The Affirmative – When asked to provide feedback, be positive. Use sentences in the affirmative. They encourage people to continue to write, despite the aspects they know they’ll have to correct.

3. When Critiquing Someone’s Work – First ask them what kind of feedback they are looking for. Do they want you to focus on the plot, the characters, the setting? Would they like you to identify typos, grammar and spelling mistakes? Are they looking for a general opinion? Or are they looking for a more detailed analysis?

4. Present An Alternative/Correction – After identifying something in the story that could be improved and/or corrected, provide a suggestion on how to solve the problem. Avoid telling your fellow writers what you’d do if you were in their shoes. Avoid being too directive.

5. When Your Work Is Being Critiqued – Listen to other people’s opinions and take notes. Avoid interrupting them. Avoid trying to justify why you have written something in a specific way. Avoid taking it personally.

Question: What if I am not interested in having my work critiqued?
Should I stop attending this particular writing group?
No! It’s important to witness the process of text analysis and review.
There’s always something new to be learned.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Dynamics of a Writing Session

Each writing group has its own way of interacting. At first, it may feel like you’re an outsider. People talk about writing experiences they went through together, about workshops they attended together, and you feel you don’t belong. However, don’t give up.

1. Listen – Try to become a part of the group by first listening. You’ll get to know the group members and they’ll understand you’re not there to disrupt the balance they have established within the group.

2. Show Up Regularly - There are a lot of people who drop by once and then never return. Showing up for all the sessions is one of the best ways to quickly being taken as a member of the group. It’s interesting to notice that some writers’ Real Life (RL) doesn’t allow them to attend all the sessions, but they are still seen as members, because they do come back weekly.

3. Go With The Flow – When you start attending a writing group, follow its guidelines. Giving suggestions to improve things is great, but understand that some might find it uncomfortable when these come from someone new to the group. Some might see it as a criticism to something that, in their opinion, is working fine. As soon as you’re familiar with the way everything works, then go ahead and be an active contributor to the way the group functions.

4. Be Positive – There are good days and there are bad days. Sometimes people attend the write in, but they don’t feel like writing. Sometimes they write only a little. Sometimes they are disappointed with what they’ve written. Always offer a word of encouragement. Avoid using the negative. “You haven’t been writing much in the past few days, but that’ll change. You’ll see.” Although seemingly encouraging, this sentence states that you consider what the other has been writing as somewhat of a failure. Instead, value the 10 words he/she wrote. One sentence. It’s still writing.

5. Offer Feedback When Asked - Many writers attend write-ins to establish a writing routine. They are not necessarily interested in either sharing their stories or knowing what your opinion about them is. It’s not a matter of arrogance. Sometimes they simply cannot share their material because it’ll be published or because it’s part of their RL jobs. However, they’ll sometimes ask for ideas, help, or an opinion about something specific. When asked, offer honest and direct feedback. To say “I liked it” or “Well done” is ok, but try going beyond that.

Question: I got to know my fellow writers and feel I’m a part of the group now.
Is it ok to talk about them to others who are new to the group?
Never volunteer info about other writers’ RL or their ongoing projects without their permission. They might say something about their life and their writing, considering those who are present at that particular time at the write-in; that doesn’t mean they want that information to be share with people they don’t know directly.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

What to Expect of a Writing Session

The beginning of a new year brings a renewed sense of exhilaration about the future which extends to all aspects of our lives, including the determination to write more and better. One way of accomplishing this goal is to attend write-ins.

In the virtual world of Second Life (SL), there are many writing sessions taking place and I strongly encourage you to give these virtual writing groups a chance.

1. Establish Goals - Before each writing session, take a few minutes to determine what your writing goal is. Whether you are doing research, plotting, brainstorming, writing, or revising/editing, it’s important to establish a specific goal. It is for this reason that I prefer having a timeframe and a prompt.

2. Create a Work Routine – Attending a write-in daily, always sets you in the right frame of mind to accomplish a lot in terms of your writing. In my opinion, it is better to attend only one session - the same session each day - than to attend many and skip one or two every now and then. If you can attend 2 write-ins daily, that’s great. Consistency is what you are looking for.

3. Increase Your Writing Pace - Having a routine increases your productivity. This is also true for writing. With daily practice, you’ll hesitate less before writing. You’ll be able to bypass that pesky inner-editor who forces you to over-think every word you write.

4. Share, Share, and Share – A lot of writing is done at a write-in. However, your fellow writers always find the time to share their experiences and interesting resources they come across.

5. Evaluate your efforts – At the end of each writing sessions, expect to be asked how you did. This is meant to motivate you and not to judge your productivity. Most writers will say the amount of words they’ve written. Why do we focus on word count? One of the most important goals of these sessions is to become more proficient in writing new material. The more you write, the bigger the chances are of writing something really good.

Question: I cannot stay for the whole duration of the writing session.
Should I still attend?
Yes! Every minute counts, every word counts.

More Take 5!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Line


The blue line on the floor was in sight. Damien waited eagerly. Stardom, they said. He stepped out of the vehicle and stood on his side of the line. He had thought about taking some food and some clothes with him. But he knew he’d have to wear a special suit anyway. They’d provide food too. Beaming, Damien stepped over the line. The portal sucked him in and minced him into little portions, wrapping him in some sort of plastic. He didn’t look bad in it. However, it had never crossed his mind that he would become the damn food.
100 Word Stories

Sunday, January 10, 2016


Andrew only wanted to belong to the group of cool guys.
“According to the book, to be accepted you must eat a pound of salt,” they said.
So, he agreed.
The result wasn’t good.
His family, friends, and doctors asked him why, but he never gave the guys up.
When he was about to die, he recalled having read that in China nobility used to commit suicide by eating salt.
His intention had definitely not been to commit suicide, quite the opposite.
The guys denied everything, even the existence of the book.
Andrew’s last thought was “Ugly people, happy monsters.”

Monday, January 4, 2016

2015 in a Nutshell

Kats Beach

As it happened in 2014, I started the year of 2015 with a commitment, to write 500 words a day. Establishing a writing routine proved to be extremely important in terms of creating a solid body of work.

The difference between 2015 and the previous years is the fact that, more and more, my writing is becoming less visible. As I move forth towards long fiction and spend more time doing research and plotting, the amount of stories I post in my blog becomes smaller, resulting in the impression that less is being done. That is not true.

So, what happened in 2015?

*For the Virtual Writers Inc. website, A Story Waiting to Happen (monthly non-fiction articles with suggestions for stories and virtual inspiration drawn from sims in Second Life)

2. Roche

*100 Word Stories Weekly Challenge (fiction drabbles; this challenge continues to be an invaluable creative opportunity that pushes me to think about the micro-world of a sentence and the value of each word)

*500 Word Stories (fiction)

*I ventured into writing an Erotica short-story. It’s now at 11.396 words, but miserably unfinished and unpublished.

*A short-story called "Sonya Electrified" (fiction)

*Writing resources for my own blog (non-fiction about the writing process)

*An opinion article about Second Life’s SL12B, “So, What’s the Problem?

*I took these MOOC to collect information that would eventually help me with character building:
  1. May 11 - June 7 - Heart Health (University of Reading) - a Beginner's Guide to Cardiovascular Disease
  2. April 20 - May 31 - Psychology and Mental Health (University of Liverpool) - How a psychological understanding of emotions and behavior provides new ways to improve mental health and well-being
  3. April 20 - June 14 - Introduction to Cyber Security (The Open University) - Essential cyber security knowledge and skills
  4. April 13 - May 15 - Forensic Science and Criminal Justice (University of Leicester) - The use of science in criminal investigations and its role in the criminal justice system
  5. March 9 - 27 - How to Succeed at Interviews (The University of Sheffield) - Tools to succeed at interviews and land a dream job or course place
  6. March 2 - April 10 - Dysphagia: Swallowing Difficulties and Medicines (University of East Anglia) - The administration of medicines to patients with dysphagia
  7. March 2 - 20 - Introduction to Dutch (University of Groningen) – Introductory
  8. January 5 - February 13 - Introduction to Forensic Science (University of Strathclyde) - Methods and scientific underpinning of forensic science, from crime scene investigation to reporting evidential value within a case
* I continued to host the weekly write-in in the virtual world of Second Life within the context of the 500 Word Writing Challenge, Saturdays at noon SLT/8pm Lisbon PT - 30 minutes of writing.

* In July, I started hosting a daily write-in, Monday-Thursday at 2am SLT/10am Lisbon PT because a few participants of the weekly writing sessions were interested in having a daily schedule. After a pause for summer vacation, it is interesting to observe that a fairly stable group of writers now attends the morning events on a regular basis – 2x 30 minutes of writing.

*Throughout November, I hosted the morning write-in daily, Monday-Sunday at 2am SLT/10am Lisbon PT– 2x 30 minutes of writing.

*The novel The Unspoken Footnote written during the NaNoWriMo (fiction, mystery, to be completed and revised). I spent more time plotting the story and it ended up becoming longer than the planned 50k words (at the end of the year, 74.913 words and about five or six chapters from conclusion). It will be fun to revise it.

*Writing Workshop “Boost Your Writing Using Second Life”. I hosted this event in the first week of November as part of the events organized by the Virtual Writers. It was my first experience of this type in Second Life. Those who attended enjoyed and found it useful.

*NaNoWriMo Pep Talk for the Virtual Writers website and in-world group, Week 3.

Of the 182.500 word target for this year (500 words X 365 days), I managed to write 163.284. I was 38 days short of reaching the goal. This average increased (from 29 days in 2014), which means I wrote less than in last year. Yet, considering that there are 104 weekend days in the year, I think I still did a pretty good job.

Looking back, I realize I achieved the major goals I had established for 2015 – writing a novel in a more structured way, continuing to write short-fiction - a great learning sandbox for higher flights, and motivating and helping other writers.

I feel I didn’t achieve my goal of writing more short-stories.

One aspect I failed miserably in once again was in revising last year's NaNoWriMo novel. I now have TWO novels to revise and ONE to finish and revise before November.

The advantage of being an active member of a writing community is the fact that everyone pushes for everyone else. As a result, the Virtual Writers are planning to organize the necessary logistical settings for anyone who wishes to take part in the Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July.

For this event, writers set their own goals, writing or revising/editing. I’m choosing the latter which means that I must have The Unspoken Footnote ready by April. My goal is to finally be successful in revising/editing one of the three novels I will have written by then.

All in all, it was a good year. And I’m happy to say that, more and more, I volunteer and rely on peer support. Routine, perseverance and peer support are vital. These were the most valuable lessons I have learned this year.

"Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens.” 
Ray Bradbury

Sunday, January 3, 2016



She was late and he was furious.
When he saw her walking towards him, he forgot all his promises.
He wanted to beat her up, make her pay. She always made him do it, always.
As soon as she kissed him, he raised his fist.
“You said you’d come early,” he whispered.
In the blink of an eye, she knocked him down and held him in a chokehold, watching him turn blue.
“Please…” He wiggled his legs. He struggled for air.
The crowd gathered around in silence.
“No more,” she said. “He needs to learn.”
No one called the police.