Saturday, June 15, 2019

Viva La Revolucion!



This week's prompts actually required some thinking on my part. Especially the first one.

The words for the first prompt were so disparate that I couldn’t think of using them for anything other than a poem. Which was a little surprising, but it’s nice to do something different once in awhile.

The second prompt generated a flash piece that is both weird and a little sad.


Prompt One

Forestall, review, applause, vocalize, govern

Viva La Revolucion

Forestall your protests;
the time will soon be upon us.
Ideas are rising
like floodwaters in the spring.

Review the past
if you do not believe.
Though it comes not again
we can still learn from it.

Applause is given
for measures taken;
plan for the future
if there’s to be a tomorrow.

Vocalize your concerns
to anyone who will listen,
to affect the changes
you wish to see.

Govern your thoughts
and keep them hidden
from those who deny
the revolution is coming.


Prompt Two

Child Eternal
Light Attributes: Determination to remain young in body, mind, and spirit. Ability to see things with fresh eyes.
Shadow Attributes: Inability to grow up and be responsible. Extreme dependency on others for physical security.


There was nothing remarkable about her, especially in the beginning. It was only later, when she reached twelve years of age and stopped growing, that her parents realized she was different. They consulted several doctors but they could find nothing wrong. She was a medical anomaly.

The years passed and she never changed – it was as though her mind and body had been frozen in time. When she was eighteen years old another distinction became evident. She had a unique way of seeing the world. Each time she was shown something she saw it differently.

By this time she was no longer attending school, she just didn’t have the capacity to learn beyond the twelve year old level, so her parents started her on the talk show circuit. She had her fifteen minutes of fame, but all too quickly the novelty wore off and she was yesterday’s news.

Her parents grew tired of having an eternal child to care for. They talked in secret about different solutions and finally found a boarding school for special needs children. It was far enough away that they wouldn’t be expected to visit, close enough for her to come home for holidays.

Life went on in this way for some time and would have continued for many years had there not been an incident at the school involving several of the girls and several boys from the academy across the river. Their daughter was sent back to them and they turned their attention to a lawsuit against the school that they had trusted to protect their daughter.

Before they reached a settlement agreement, they realized something strange was happening to their daughter. It was not just that she was more withdrawn than she had been, she seemed to be …growing. For the first time in fifteen years she needed new clothing, not because her old clothes were worn out, but because she’d outgrown them.

No longer could she see the world with her unique point of view. It was as though with the loss of her innocence she lost all that made her special. For the life of them, her parents did not know whether this was for better or for worse.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back



So…I almost finished the edits I’ve been working so diligently on and then I came to the part that prompted me to go back and edit in the first place. And then I dithered for a bit thinking I might have to make a map after all because my group was supposed to meet someone at this shrine, and I had no idea where the shrine was in relation to where my group was.

Then a light bulb went off over my head.

The shrine scene kinda bugged me and it suddenly dawned on me that this book hasn’t been published yet. I can go back and change anything I want. And trust me, I want!

So now I’m backtracking 30 pages or so to get rid of a couple more scenes I didn’t like. One of them I might be able to change enough to save, but I still feel like for every step I’m taking forward I’m taking two back. Am I ever going to get this book finished?

I hope so, because I’ve become so fixated on it that I can’t seem to focus on any other writing. And as I was falling asleep the other night I suddenly had all these ideas invade my brain for this science fiction series I came up with while I was still in high school. I laid all kinds of groundwork for it but eventually abandoned it, mainly because I just wasn’t mature enough as a writer to handle it. Then I wrote the first book for NaNo one year, but there were several sticking points I needed to overcome before I could give the series a go.

The notes I made the other night not only clear up the sticking points of that series, it also connects with my Elemental series (which is set further into the future) and I’ve figured out which of the three possible endings for the Elementals makes the best sense. Woot!

But first…Wandering Wizards must get finished!


Prompts of the Week

Last week’s prompts marked the end of my jar of prompts. It was a good idea, but it lacked proper execution. So until I come with better prompts for the jar (feel free to send me any of your own) I’m going to change things up a bit.

I have a large book I bought through Reader’s Digest called The Family Word Finder. Yeah, it’s pretty much just a big ole hardback dictionary, but it also contains the odd quote and word origin. Anyway, I’m going to pick five words at random, and the challenge is to use all five of them in whatever you write – poem, story, opinion piece, whatever.

For the second prompt…remember last year I talked about how the writing group I was part of used Archetype cards as prompts for some freewriting during our meetings? Well, I bought myself a deck and each week I’m going to pull one at random and share it with you for the second prompt.

And if these don’t work…well, I guess I’ll just have to come up with something else. :-D

Prompt One

Forestall
Review
Applause
Vocalize
Govern

Prompt Two
The Archetype cards are great for creating characters, but you can also create a story (or poem) using the attributes in the abstract. And really, you have three choices here: just the light attributes, just the shadow attributes, or a combination of both.

Child Eternal
Light Attributes: Determination to remain young in body, mind, and spirit. Ability to see things with fresh eyes.
Shadow Attributes: Inability to grow up and be responsible. Extreme dependency on others for physical security.


And remember, you don’t need to spend a lot of time on these, they’re just meant for fun. But if it turns out you like what you’ve written, then by all means keep going and turn your exercise into an actual story or poem or whatever.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

One Outta Two Ain’t Bad



What was I thinking when I picked last week’s prompts? Oh, that’s right. I was thinking I still had three baby-sitting free days left and it should be a cake-walk. Never mind that the editing had slowed to a crawl and there was other stuff going on.

I may still do the poem from the first prompt, but it won’t be any time soon. You think it’s easy to write twenty lines all starting with the same letter? You give it try. Go on, I dare you. I double dog dare you.

I did write something for the other prompt, but I fully admit I didn’t start it until this morning so it’s a real rush job. Now it’s back to the…gardening. What can I say? It’s a beautiful day outside today and they’re too rare to spend inside writing. LOL

Prompt Two
Write a story from the perspective of Harold the Armchair. What does he think about all day? Does he like being sat on? Do his parents approve of him being an armchair?

My father was a papasan chair and my mother was an elegant wing chair. They were always just a little disappointed I turned out to be nothing more exotic than a common armchair. But I was happy being short and squat, my plump form covered in a tasteful geometric print.

I started out like many chairs, in the showroom of a large furniture warehouse. People would walk slowly down the rows and often they’d stop in front of me to admire me, sometimes even sit down to test me out. There were all kinds of people – short, tall, skinny, fat; the ones I liked the least were those sticky fingered children with their chocolate and candy.

But all too often I heard the adults tell the salespeople, “I love the way this chair feels, but does it come in any other colour?”

Finally I was sold to a designer, at a discounted price because I was a floor model, who liked my browns and golds.

“This chair will be perfect for the house I’m working on,” he gushed. “The colours are just fabulous!”

And so I was loaded up onto the big delivery van and taken to my new home in the Van Dusens’ rumpus room where I thought I’d give years of seating pleasure. Unfortunately, the Van Dusens rarely used their rumpus room, save for an occasional game of pool. Once a week the housekeeper would vacuum my upholstery and fluff my cushions, but other than that I was pretty much left alone.

Several years later, I have no idea how many because frankly I never thought to keep track, the Van Dusens divorced and I, along with the rest of the furniture in the rumpus room, ended up in storage.

A number of years passed before we saw the light of day again. This time we’d been sold in one big lot at a storage unit auction and taken to a used furniture store. Surprisingly I was at the store for a very short time before I was purchased by a family who was furnishing their garage as a play room.

To my dismay, I was covered in a heavy, dark blue slipcover. It itched at first, but eventually I got used to and was actually grateful for it when they got the dog, who liked to curl up on me. There’s nothing worse than dog hair, the couch and club chairs told me.

Time passed. The children grew up and seldom came out to the play room, although the dog still liked to take naps on me. I must admit I was beginning to show my age too. My stuffing was not so plump and despite the slipcover my faux velvet upholstery was wearing thin in spots. It was no surprise when I was loaded onto a truck one day, along with several boxes and a few other pieces of furniture that were no longer used.

Our destination this time was a retirement home. I was placed in a sunny corner in the common room where the residents could sit and look out into the garden, sometimes even have a nap. And if my springs squeaked a little when they sat down, well, so did theirs.

I couldn’t ask for a better place to end my days.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Insert Pithy Post Title Here



As my reward for full-time babysitting last week, I’ve had the last several days off. In a perfect world I would have sat down with my morning coffee and written all day, coming up for air at the end of the day to count the number of pages I got done with an air of smug satisfaction.

But as we know all too well, the world isn’t perfect.

Day one I couldn’t seem to find my focus, partially (but not totally) because the pool guys were in the back yard putting the finishing touches on our newly installed above ground pool. Also, the phone kept interrupting my train of thought. So I worked on the prompt stories, such as they were.

Day two I was in a funk. It was one of those funks that nothing seems to help – not a change of scenery, not shopping, not even the kittens at the kitten adoption blitz at the library – you just have to ride it out. I was so hyper focused on Wandering Wizards that I couldn’t interest myself in working on anything else. So I did six loads of laundry just so I could say I got something accomplished.

Day three I decided enough is enough and started entering the changes I made to the paper copy of Wandering Wizards into the electronic one. And that’s when I made the discovery that I had an extra “Jessica and Dominic” scene, so technically I was no longer stuck. But I finished making the changes to the electronic copy anyway. I’m pretty sure I mucked up the time-line, but that’s something I can fix when the draft is finished.

Day four I caught up to where I’d stopped to go back and add more Jessica-centric scenes, and please note that the Wandering Wizards meter in the side bar has moved from 47% to 70%. I’m hoping to get the edits finished by the end of the day so I can have my reward (a brand new Lynsay Sands book I bought and then gave to the hubby to hold onto until my edits were done) and time enough to read it before it’s back to babysitting.

So the good news is that I’ve only got 60 pages to go, but the bad news is that I’m at a place where I need to insert another Jessica and Dominic scene. But this should be the last one because Howard and Ellen’s group has just reached the Wild Woods Elven Realm so that means Jessica and Dominic need to be in Claverton.

Wish me luck!


Prompts of the Week

The friend that was helping me pick prompts has deserted me. Okay, actually she didn’t so much as desert me as move to a better place, but that better place is in another town. I have to admit, it was taking us longer and longer to find a couple of decent prompts to use each week and before she left we went through the rest of the jar and discarded all but about a dozen of them. Even at that I was hard pressed to find two I thought were doable for this week. So next week I’ll be abandoning my magical jar of prompts. But don’t worry, I’ll find something else to challenge you with. :-)

Prompt One
Write a 20-line poem where every line begins with the first letter of your first name. The only rule is that it can’t be about you.

Prompt Two
Write a story from the perspective of Harold the Armchair. What does he think about all day? Does he like being sat on? Do his parents approve of him being an armchair?

You don’t need to spend a lot of time on these, they’re just meant for fun. Take 5 minutes to think about it, then write for 10 or 15 minutes. And if it turns out you like what you’ve written, then by all means turn your exercise into an actual story. You can find these prompts, and others like them, at Writer's Digest .

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Blueprints and Dishes



Being the champion procrastinator I am, I of course had to try and do some research on the nursery rhyme “Hey Diddle Diddle.” Why did the dish run away with the spoon? It turns out no one knows. Unlike many nursery rhymes that have a dark side to them, this one is just as it appears – pure nonsense.

As for the blueprints . . . It doesn’t seem that long ago I did a prompt story about a secret room, so I wanted to go for something a little different. I think I succeeded. :-)


Prompt One
While preparing your garden at the beginning of spring, you find the blueprints for your house buried in the earth. When you pull it out and examine it, you find that there is a room in the blueprint that doesn’t exist in your house. Both disturbed and intrigued, you set off to find the missing room. Write what happens next.

Why would anyone brick up a storage room? That was my first thought as I stared at the wall of blocks in front of me in the basement of my new house. Was this something the previous owners had done, or did they even know about it?

I’d bought the house for a song. The kid the realtor hired to cut the grass said it had a bit of a bad reputation. Some rumour about the house reverting back to the original owner a couple of times, but I couldn’t quite recall the circumstances – foreclosure due to missed mortgage payments or something like that.

According to the blueprint I’d found – buried under a dead forsythia bush in the backyard, if you can believe it – there should be a large storage room behind this wall. It might even be big enough to use as a work shop or an extra bedroom.

The wall looked pretty solid, bricks and mortar fitting snugly together, but at the same time there was something a little odd about it. A closer examination showed a faint seam along one edge. Maybe I wouldn’t have to use a sledge hammer on it after all.

It took the better part of an hour of persistent searching, but I finally found a brick that was just faintly askew. I pushed on it and there was a click, then a section of the wall popped open enough that I could pull the hinged panel the rest of the way open.

Behind the brick, which was actually a thin layer of brick stuck to plywood, cunningly disguised to look like a solid wall, was a metal door. Curiouser and curiouser. The door had one of those wheels on it, like a ship’s hatch or a bunker, and it took both hands to get it to turn. Maybe this was one of those bomb shelters that had been all the rage in the 50s.

There was a hiss of air as the seal around the door was broken. Of course it was dark inside, but I was prepared and grabbed the flashlight I’d set aside. The flashlight didn’t brighten it by much, but I could definitely tell this was no bomb shelter. Nor were there any shelves to indicate it had been used for storage, at least not at this end. So what had it been used for?

It was a long, narrow room, and the dim light barely reached a pile of…something at the furthest end. I took a couple of steps forward and the metal door slammed shut with a clang. I swung around and the light played over the metal - there was no handle from this side of the door. I pounded on it with my fist.

“Hey! Is someone there? Let me out!” The door wasn’t on a spring and I hadn’t noticed a draft – someone had to have shut it on me. “I don’t know what kind of game you’re playing, but you need to open this door. Right now!”

The walls seemed to close in on me and I struggled to quell the rising panic. There had to be another way out. I swung the flashlight around and started towards the other end of the room.

“Oh my god.” The light from the flashlight fell on the pile of clothing. Only it wasn’t a pile of clothing, but a body. Actually, two bodies. One was desiccated, it must have been here for ten years or more. The other wasn’t quite as old, maybe five years. Looks like I’d found two sets of previous owners.

From the way they were positioned, it was apparent they’d been trying to dig their way out with their bare hands. The first had managed to break through the crumbling cinder-blocks of the basement wall, the second about three feet further than that into the earth on the other side.

A shiver passed over me. How far would I get before I died?


Prompt Two
Write a love story about the dish and the spoon from the classic nursery rhyme “Hey Diddle Diddle.” How did they meet and why did they decide to run away together? Will their relationship last?

Hey diddle diddle
The cat and the fiddle
The cow jumped over the moon
The little dog laughed
To see such sport
That the dish ran away with the spoon.


“There’s the fiddle, it’s almost time!”

Several dishes and pieces of cutlery ranged themselves along the table’s edge to get a better view. A white bread and butter plate with pink roses around its edge sidled up to a long, elegant soup spoon.

“There she goes!”

There was a ragged cheer as the cow launched herself into space and jumped over the moon.

“Here now, we’ll have none of that!” a large serving fork barked out, shoving the pretty little dish away from the spoon. “Plates go with knives and forks, spoons go with bowls.”

At that moment, the little dog started to laugh, drawing the serving fork’s attention his way.

“Quick, while he’s distracted,” the spoon said.

Holding hands, the plate and spoon slid down the long waterfall of the tablecloth, making their escape. Unfortunately, the floor below was ceramic tile. They hit hard and the bread and butter dish shattered.

The spoon lay distraught amidst the wreckage of his lady love. “There’ll never be another dish like you,” he sobbed.

“You got that right,” the serving fork called from above. “She was a limited edition collector’s plate.”

The little dog continued to laugh, a hint of madness in its voice.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Tempting Fate



Serves me right for bragging. Last Tuesday I was all about how the sun was shining again and how awesome I was and how I had my writing mojo back. Ask me how I did the rest of the week. Go, on, I dare you.

Not so great. I got about ten more pages edited on Wandering Wizards and then I came to a spot that needed an infusion of Jessica and Dominic and ground to a halt.

It took me all day Saturday to write, and post, my prompt stories.

Yesterday it was warm and sunny, but I had charge of an active pre-schooler all day which is not exactly conducive to getting anything done.

Today it’s back to being cold enough for a coat and rainy enough that if I had rain boots I’d be wearing them. Also, for the next few days I’ll still be looking after the granddaughter when she’s not in pre-school.

*sigh*

The good news is, after Friday I’ll have five babysitting free days in a row. Almost like a vacation, for sure I’ll be able to spend some quality time with my lap top/Neo/notebook.

But let’s not say that out too loud – we wouldn’t want to tempt fate by putting a jinx on it.


Prompts of the Week

Prompt One
While preparing your garden at the beginning of spring, you find the blueprints for your house buried in the earth. When you pull it out and examine it, you find that there is a room in the blueprint that doesn’t exist in your house. Both disturbed and intrigued, you set off to find the missing room. Write what happens next.

Prompt Two
Write a love story about the dish and the spoon from the classic nursery rhyme “Hey Diddle Diddle.” How did they meet and why did they decide to run away together? Will their relationship last?

You don’t need to spend a lot of time on these, they’re just meant for fun. Take 5 minutes to think about it, then write for 10 or 15 minutes. And if it turns out you like what you’ve written, then by all means turn your exercise into an actual story. You can find these prompts, and others like them, at Writer's Digest .

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Cats and Cookies



Have you noticed I tend to go one long and one short with these things usually? I have to admit, I wasn’t really feeling it for these prompts at first. Then I came up with something a little moody for the first one.

The second one seemed to take forever, mainly because as much as I love fairy tales, I couldn’t figure out which one to use for my story. And then it got a little long winded, but it is what it is.

Prompt One
Go over to your bookshelf, close your eyes, and pick up the first book you touch. Open the book to a random page, read the first full sentence on that page, and use it as the inspiration for a story or scene. Please include the original line at the beginning or end of your response.

From Bram Stoker’s Dracula: When I got almost to the top I could see the seat and the white figure, for I was now close enough to distinguish it even through the spells of shadow.

It had not been an easy climb and I would have given up halfway had curiosity not taken root in me. No ghost this, but the figure resolved itself into that of a large, white cat, sitting as though it, too, had been carved from the same white marble as the bench below it.

We stared at each other, the cat and I, for the space of several heart beats. I was afraid to move, as it turned its head and became enigmatic and motionless. The air up here was cool with a hint of dampness promising rain. A chill breeze had the dead leaves dancing around the pedestal of the bench, but the cat’s fur remained unruffled.

The clouds chose that moment to part just enough so that a beam of sunlight fell upon the cat, turning the white fur into a blazing nimbus. My breath caught, and two points of living sapphire turned to stare at me once more.

I shut my eyes against the radiant beauty and when I opened them again, the clouds had covered the sun once more and the cat was gone. Was it real? Was it a spirit? Was it all just a dream?

With ponderous steps I went over to the marble bench and sat down. The view was spectacular, the cemetery spread out on all sides below, the checkerboard of light and dark racing with the cloud cover.

There was no sign of the cat. Nor did I ever see it again.


Prompt Two
Write a scene that involves a fairy tale trope turned on its head or otherwise deviating from typical expectations. For example: A princess who’s cruel to her kind stepmother; a golden goose that lays explosive eggs, a big, frightening wolf who really just wants a friend.

It was the girl’s idea. It usually was. Though both children were somewhat greedy and grasping she was the one who generally came up with the plots and plans.

She was the one who started the rumors about their parents being so poor they couldn’t afford to feed her and her brother, and how it was their mother’s idea to take them out into the woods and leave them there.

The first time it happened they were returned home by the constable, who gave their parents a fine and a stern lecture on what would happen to them if they ever tried such a thing again. The boy felt bad for his part in it, but the girl felt a great deal of satisfaction.

“That’ll teach them for trying to make me do chores,” she said to her brother.

The next time they had to go further afield because the constable had started to keep an eye on their farm. There was a rich couple, two villages over, that the girl knew of. She timed it just right and she and her brother stumbled out of the woods right as the couple were returning home. It was easy making the couple believe they’d been abused and abandoned. The boy had always been on the thin side, like his father, while the girl wore her least favorite dress and made sure it was torn and dirty.

For a while it had been great fun. They were dressed in the finest clothes and fed the best food, and had presents heaped upon them. But then the girl overheard the man telling his wife that they needed to let the authorities know about them, so that proper action could be taken against their terrible parents. That night they gathered up what they could carry and slipped away towards home.

Along the way they stumbled across the cottage where an old woman ran a rather successful bakery. In fact, she’d just recently renovated the house to make it look like it was made of gingerbread – a great advertising gimmick. The girl looked thoughtfully at the “Help Wanted” sign in the window and the boy could almost see the wheels turning. He had a feeling this was not going to bode well for him.

They returned home to a lukewarm greeting from their parents and one even less so from the constable.

“Here, now. Where have you two been? And don’t give me no tales about your parents losing you in the woods ‘cause they haven’t left the farm in more ‘n an week.”

“Why of course not, officer,” the girl said sweetly. “We were but visiting friends in another town. So sorry if you were worried.”

The constable harrumphed and went back to his jail where he didn’t have to worry about things like missing children and runaway children and the like.

The girl and her brother took the fine clothes and toys they’d collected to the market, where they sold them for a rather nice profit. Then the boy sat on a hay bale at the edge of the marketplace sipping a mug of apple cider while he watched his sister flit through the crowds dropping a coin here and a rumor there about the old woman being a witch with a predilection for eating children.

“There,” she said with satisfaction as she returned to collect her brother. “That’ll take care of the competition.”

The following day she and her brother presented themselves to the old woman at the gingerbread house.

“Well,” the old woman said, “You’re a little young and you’ve no experience , but seeing as no one else seems to want to work for me, I’ll take you on a trial basis.”

The boy actually quite liked working for the old woman. She was kind and soft spoken and never scolded him if he happened to break something, which sad to say was quite often. His sister pitched in with an uncharacteristic zeal which got him wondering. What was she up to?

He found out more than a week later when his sister took him aside. “The old woman seems to like you,” she whispered. “You need to play it up and get her to tell you the secret ingredient to her gingerbread.”

“Whatever for?”

“Because, you idiot, it’s the only recipe I’m lacking. I’ve figured out all the rest of them and with the gingerbread we can get rid of the old woman and take over her business.”

The boy looked at her askance.

“Don’t just stand there like a big, fat gob. Go get that recipe!”

The girl left on an errand. The boy knew exactly what to do. When the girl returned she looked at him expectantly and he nodded slightly.

“You’re brother and I just finished making up a batch of gingerbread,” the old woman said, “But I can’t seem to get the oven lit. Do you think you could give it a try?”

“Of course,” the girl said with insincere sweetness. She bent over, having to stick her head partway into the oven to get it lit. As she did so, she felt a tremendous shove from behind.

“Get the door!” she heard her brother yell. The iron door clanged shut behind her and in an instant she began to smell smoke.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

“I think this is the best batch of gingerbread yet,” the boy said to his new partner.

“Why thank you, dear,” the old woman said, beaming. “The secret is in the fuel you use for the fire.”