Friday, May 22, 2015

Writing Workshop: Forms of Short Stories

Forms of Fiction -- Short Stories (In Progress)

Flash Fiction (Microfiction) -- 1,000 words or less.

Anecdote -- like a parable, a brief realistic narrative that makes a point.

Parable -- a brief realistic narrative that makes a point.

Fable -- succinct tales with an explicit moral like Aesop Fables.

Fairy Tales -- 

Tale -- short form of storytelling to portray a moral or lesson, may highlight a cultural or religious perspective. Narration, summary and coincidence may play major roles in story. Similar to oral tradition.

Vignette -- short, impressionistic scenes that focus on one moment or give particular insight into a character, idea, or setting. 

A vignette describes a short composition that can nevertheless display a high degree of compositional skill. Vignettes appear both as stand-alone pieces, similar to flash fiction, and as components of longer stories or plays. Brevity is the key to an effective vignette, though many writers find it valuable to establish a wider context for their works.

Essay --

eShort -- 12-150 pages usually part of a series, perspective may be of a known story but from other characters pov

Short Story -- 1,000 - 20,000, 1,000 - 7,5000
see Alice Munro stories
  • Usually in narrative prose, part of oral storytelling. Small cast of characters, to evoke a single effect or mood. Use of plot, resonance....
  • exposition - setting, situation, main characters
  • complication - event that introduces conflict
  • rising action -
  • crisis -- point where conflict is at the highest
  • resolution -- conflict is resolved
  • focus -- often on one incident
  • single plot
  • single setting
  • short period of time

Short Fiction -- 3,000 - 15,000 words

Novellas/Novelettes -- longer short stories

Writing Workshop: A Sampler of Types of Writers

Writing Workshop -- Kick Writers' Block to the Curb with Seven Easy Exercises

Seven Writing Exercises

1. Spontaneous Writing Exercise -- select a word and write without caring about punctuation, grammar, plot or organization for five minutes.

2. Writing Prompts

     -- Write a letter to your Writers Block to say good bye.

-- You are cleaning out the attic, garage or closet and find....

-- Make a list of story titles you’d like write.

-- Write about the most beautiful place you have ever been.

3. Try a different genre. Write a:

     -- poem
     -- essay
     -- article
     -- biography of local person
     -- short story

4. Go through your photographs/mementos. Pick one. Write a story about it.

5. Take a walk. Look at the houses, businesses and landscape. Think about who lives or works there. Write a short story about your impressions.

6. Write about something you have knowledge of or an expertise.

7. Write something every day.

After you’ve done a few exercises. Pick something you have written in the last few months.
Edit it. Polish it. Submit it to:

-- an online publication (check their submission guidelines).
-- to a short story contest.
-- post on your blog.
-- an agent, or
-- collect other stories/articles/poems etc., and self-publish your own collection.

Action begets Action

7 Creative Writing Prompts to Spark Your Writing -- Writers Digest
A 12-Day Plan of Simple Writing Exercises -- Writers Digest
Creative Writing Exercises by Lisa Binion

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Summer Frugal Grocery Challenge

Because I have done a good job of stocking up on canned goods and other pantry supplies, I am going to try and use the pantry items supplemented by vegetables and fruits purchased from nearby tiendas and not go grocery shopping during June and July.

Will post progress.

A Glimpse of Some Costs of Living Merida, Mexico

Here's is a glimpse of some of the costs of living in Merida, Mexico (in pesos unless noted).

3100.00     1 Bedroom apartment, furnished with wifi, water, trash, & parking*
260.00         Electric bill for 2 months (bill varies upon usage)

7.00             Public Bus fare - one way
40.00           Short cab ride within one zone

Food Costs:
Below is a table of sample food prices. I am unable to fine tune my grocery prices by comparison shopping at a variety of grocery stores and markets because I do not have a car and have mobility issues.

So, my choices are nearby tiendas (mom and pop stores), Walmart, and a Mexican grocery store. In centro, there is a Mexican food market where prices are less, plus north of centro are Sam's Club and Costco as well as other grocery stores.

Product selection varies from source to source. I tend to go to the larger grocery stores because they have many of the items I want like Ginger ale.

Eating Out:
As with any city, you have a wide range of cuisines and costs. I can go to a nearby Italian restaurant and have a wonderful dinner for $150-$250 including a beverage, dessert and tip. But, mostly I go to a variety of cafes where I can have a great meal with a beverage from about $70.00-$120.00 including tip. (Note, I tip 20%.)

Plus, there are many cafes and economica cocinas that offer Servico a Domicilio. I recommend this highly for lunch at least once a week because I can usually make two meals out of one and the cost is reasonable. Below a lunch delivered by Cafe de Origen for $70 (including tip). The meal includes: main dish, rice, salad, soup, corn tortillas, dressings/sauces and a real fruit juice beverage.

Cafe de Origen's chef creates wonderful menu choices with a vegetarian influence and uses delicate seasonings and sauces.

Phone Service:
I use Magic Jack and Skype for international calls. Magic Jack's plans have changed but costs roughly $50.00US a year for service. I add $25.00US to Skype about once a year depending on usage.

In Merida, you buy a physical cell phone from various telephone companies and add pesos for a pay-as-you-go service. Calls are about $1peso for a voice minute or a text message. There are monthly plans, but I don't have the costs on those, yet. I don't use my cell that much, but I pay about $100.00 pesos about every two months only to preserve my remaining minutes. Cell phone service is something I am still investigating.

Lavenderia Services:
I get my clothes, linens, towels etc. washed, dried, folded and bagged about once a month for $120-$240 depending on weight and type of items.

Pharmacies and Doctor's Visits:
Below are sample costs for some common pharmacy items:

44.00     Natural tears, generic
29.11     Aspirin, 100mg (child)
46.40     Ibuprofen, 400mg
52.50     Ibuprofen, 200mg
118.00   Adult vitamins
60.00     Eco Bug Spray

As with food shopping, farmacias are plentiful in Merida including Farmacias de Similares which sells generics. It pays to shop around for medicines not just for price but availability.

Doctor's visits usually cost about $500.00-$700.00.

Now, I could live cheaper but feel I have found a happy medium between cost and comfort.

*If you rent or own a home in Merida, you pay for water, internet, and trash services.

Note: I will update this post over time to reflect changes, more items and costs.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

New Hot Plate

My Hot Plate died.

The apartment owner replaced it with a new hotplate:

We shall see how this affects my cooking. I will test some previous recipes to see if there are any differences.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Leftovers Tomato-Based Soup and the Recipe that Got Away

In the last 2 years,  I have been focused on making recipes for Recipes from the Kitchen of a Frugal Non-Cook. While I am still a beginner in learning how to cook, I have a bit more confidence in just winging it for some recipes.

Today, I made a soup from leftovers and items in the freezer.

Tomato-Based Leftover Vegetable Soup


1/2 bag Peas, frozen
2 baggies of Celery, diced, frozen
2 slices of Spam, diced
1/4 Cabbage, frozen
1/4 Carrot, grated, fresh
3 Heaping Tbspns of Black beans, drained
1/2 Chicken bullion
3 Dollops of a tomato juice drink
ground black pepper
3 dashes of paprika


I put these items in a large pot and filled it with water (about 2/3) and brought it to a boil, then let it simmer on medium for an hour. It came out pretty tasty.

The Recipe that Got Away

I have used Amy Dacyczyn's Apple Crisp recipe often but the last time I used it, I tried to increase the portions by doubling the recipe. I was unhappy with the results, it was too dry, too heavy.

So, when I had two apples I needed to use before they went bad, I just winged it. Using Amy's recipe as a basis, I did not adhere to a rigid doubling of the recipe. But, also, I did not make note of the measurements of the ingredients I used because I thought I was going to fail, again.

Instead, it was a melt-in-your-mouth, light, not overly sweet, perfectly cooked dessert. It was the best thing I ever tasted. I cried because I doubted I would ever be able to duplicate that recipe, again.

Amy's Basic Apple Crisp Recipe
adapted from: Tightwad Gazette

1/2  red apple, chopped
1     teaspoon brown sugar (Substitute: white sugar)
1     teaspoon flour
1     teaspoon oatmeal
1     teaspoon butter or margarine

Mix sugar, flour, oatmeal and margarine.
Stir in chopped apple until coated.
Sprinkle with cinnamon.