Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprint

Welcome to the end of another week.  I don’t know about you, but I felt like this week must have had a few extra days in it.  Or maybe it just seemed that way with days full of meetings at work.

The weather–at least during the day–seems to have had enough of winter.  It has been sunny and warm enough for me to leave the door to the patio open, without the furnace feeling compelled to turn on and heat the great outdoors.

Most of the plants are still hibernating, but my little grapefruit tree, which has been working on mastering the art of producing edible fruit for a few years, finally seems to have figured things out.  The result looks like a grapefruit on the outside, but I haven’t cut into it yet to see about the inside.  Fingers crossed that it’s edible.

This week started off with a day of volunteering in honor of MLK day–I made no-sew blankets for the homeless (I’m pretty sure actual sewing would have been faster).  That was followed up with getting new portraits taken for work (not my favorite activity).  Fortunately, everything went smoothly enough, although I feel like I have a kind of startled look on my face in the portrait.

Now that all of that is taken care of I can focus on wrapping up the work week.  There is a lot on the ToDo list, but I definitely plan to make time to give today’s writing prompt and random words a try.

Care to join me?

For those of you working away on a story (whether a first draft or a polished version on its way to publication), if you’re not feeling random, we’d love to hear a bit – whether it’s a scene, a paragraph, or even a phrase that you are especially pleased with and would like to share.

If you don’t have a story in progress, or just want to work on something new, I hope either today’s random words or writing prompt will catch your creative fancy.

Ready?

Prompt:   Are we there yet?

Feel free to interpret the prompt any way you choose (or ignore it completely) and include any (or all) of the following random words:   

national               awesome            crabs             aroma

peppermint         explosion            empty           alcoholic

apparatus            destiny                episode         luxurious

escalator              available             slap                simple

I look forward to seeing your stories in the comments.  If you’re not feeling in the writing mood today, or don’t have time, feel free to post suggestions you might have for future writing prompts.  Ideas are always welcome.

Happy writing to all!

 

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprint

Happy Friday.  I hope you’ve had a good week or at least that nothing terrible has happened–the bar is pretty low for “a good week” these days.

Someone said “January is almost over” in a meeting today and made me think, for a minute, that I must have slept through a few weeks.  Fortunately, the calendar clearly shows that the month isn’t even half over yet.  A good thing, since there are still some holiday decorations piled on the table waiting to back into the cabinet in the garage.

Some of the rose bushes in my front yard are bravely blooming, despite the chilly temperatures.  Perhaps they’re thinking of spring, or at least February.

I’m busy thinking about performance reviews and year-end reports at the day job, which has left very few functioning brain cells for creative writing endeavors.  I know exercise is supposed to help with that so after work I think I’ll head off to the elliptical machine for a workout and then give today’s writing prompt and random words a try.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprint

Welcome to the first Friday Writing Sprint of a brand new year.  I hope things are off to a good start and that you’ve all managed to stay out of the grip of Covid.  Several of my team members tested positive this week but, unless it’s actually a computer-virus, I should be safe here in the writing castle.

You’d think all this sheltering in place would mean I’ve been able to make a real dent in my to-be-read pile and gotten thousands of words on the page but, sadly, not.  Possibly due to all of the home remodeling/decorating shows I’ve been watching.

Nah, that can’t be it.

Whatever you are doing today, I hope it is something enjoyable.  I began taking down the holiday decorations the other day, once the tree left the house.  I miss having a big sparkly object in the living room, but the tree had started to lean toward the sliding doors–apparently attempting to make its own escape–so I took the hint.  The end of the holidays always means a clear-out for me.  I have a car full of things that will either be going to a local shelter or a local thrift shop.  The trick will be to keep new things from making their way into the house . . . at least for a time.   

First up on my list after work today is some quality time on the elliptical machine.  The holidays disrupted my routine a bit but now it’s time to get back to it.  After that I think I’ll give today’s writing prompt and random words a try.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Michaeline: The Year of the Tiger Will be a Big Year for Cats

I think I got all the words for this year’s story challenge, including two bonus words that Elizabeth excluded because they didn’t seem very friendly: sharp and fang. Old 2021 was a big year for cats for me — I went from two to 15 in my house, and my husband’s aunt is now keeping house with six (they often come to visit, since she’s next door and lets them out). It’s a little scary to think of a 20-year commitment for all 13 babies, but there’s so much love and happiness in my house now. I was born to be a cat lady!

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful 2022, and may your goals achieved increase like my cats! Now, on to the story.

***

Betty’s 2021 had been one of the worst years she could recall. She lost a good friend, not to COVID, but to overcrowded hospitals that had to tell one more patient to just wait at home a little longer. Turned out that Anne couldn’t wait at home, after all. She’d died before the sun came up.

She’d lost a favorite aunt not to COVID, but to annoying conspiracy theories and right wing propaganda. She still loved Aunt Karen, but the way Betty’s blood pressure kept spiking every time Aunt Karen let loose a careless confidence such as Bill Gates was promoting climate change theories to sell computers to fund biological weapons . . . well, she didn’t talk to Aunt Karen at all these days. Betty just wasn’t fluent in bullshit.

Betty’s work, at least, was steady – even better than before the pandemic. She’d met some wonderful pet owners this last year, and her veterinary practice was satisfying. All in all, 2022 looked like it was going to be a great year. She stretched in her new daisy pajamas, enjoying the warm feeling of being in bed on New Year’s Day with no hangovers, no romantic regrets about the night before, and nothing to do for the rest of the day except feed herself and the cats. Continue reading

Elizabeth: It Takes a Village

Happy Friday!  Today we’re continuing the 8LW 2021 Short Story Challenge.  Though it’s not a regular Friday Writing Sprint, feel free to give the challenge a try and post your results in the comments.  We’d love to read what you come up with.  So far we’ve had Jilly’s “Snow White and the Three Kisses” and Michaeline’s “A Christmas Dream.”

My entry isn’t a holiday story, but it is a tale about a brand new start, featuring almost all of the prompt words:  daisy, annoying, romantic, formula, country, careless, confidence, piano, fluent, guest, options, ivory, star, snow, blurry, and photograph.

Enjoy!

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It Takes a Village

What was I thinking?

Jenny stood by the gate that opened onto the pathway leading to the cottage and resisted the urge to run after Mr. Hendrick’s departing taxi and say she’d made a mistake and had the wrong address and could he take her to the train station instead.

Wouldn’t that have been a sight.

Jenny was normally quite confident and rarely second-guessed herself, but she hadn’t been prepared for the place to look so forlorn with its overgrown lawn, sagging gate, and peeling shutters.  It looked like something that had been cast aside and left unattended for too long, no longer the bright, welcoming haven of her childhood.

Jenny looked at her watch, then scanned the country lane in both directions.  Where was that estate agent? Continue reading

Jilly: Snow White and the Three Kisses

Here’s my contribution to the 8LW 2021 short story challenge: a holiday tale about a brand new start, featuring some or all of the prompt words: daisy, annoying, romantic, formula, country, careless, confidence, piano, fluent, guest, options, ivory, star, snow, blurry, and photograph. I think I got ‘em all!

Snow White and the Three Kisses

“I vote for Plan F,” Swanilda “Snow” White, refugee princess, reality TV star, and marketing director of Sevendwarfs Fine Gems International, told her royal fiancé. “I know faking my own funeral is almost as retro as assassination by poisoned apple, but wintersnight is just two days away and our other options are grimmer.”

“I prefer Plan M.” Tortoni, bless him, was as protective as his witch of a mother was murderous. His image in the magic mirror was blurry but his arguments were sharp. “You stay put. I break out of the palace. We hold the wedding in the jeweled hall under Sevendwarfs Mountain. Then we use our marriage-melded powers to send Mother home and reclaim your throne.”

“Better to take her by surprise,” Snow countered. “My magic will be stronger once I’m back on home turf. And on wintersnight the portal will be fully open. If we waste this chance Glacia will be wielding my wand for another whole year. One careless move and she’ll zap me into an ice sculpture.”

“Plan F it is, then,” Toni said with resolute confidence. “I’ll tell the family to expect Mother home for the holidays. Her guest pass here expires on wintersnight.” Continue reading

Day 25: George and the Dragon

We’re at the end of our 25 Days of Stories.  Here is the final story from years past, courtesy of 8LW Jilly.

Enjoy.

George and the Dragon

The winter sun was low in the sky as Georgina Albion moored her sailboat at Stack Aerie’s small dock and picked her way along the slippery wooden boards, ignoring the freshly painted PRIVATE PROPERTY sign and the new ones that said NO TRESPASSING and VISITORS BY INVITATION ONLY.

She raised her eyes to the scudding clouds, but her thoughts were directed at the reclusive new owner. How can I be be invited, if you never answer your post or open your email?

There was a painted steel circle beside the first step of the narrow stone stair that clung to the vertiginous cliff face, and another at the top. Stylized dragons with razor claws and fiery breath, contained within a red perimeter and crossed by a red diagonal bar. In case that wasn’t clear enough, the message was spelled out below: NO DRAGONS HERE.

George stopped for a moment to trace the image with a fingertip. “If that’s true, your Uncle Basil made a big mistake.”

From the cliff top it was a short walk to the futuristic glass-and-steel dome that perched atop the towering granite sea-stack. She knew from past visits that the bubble’s airy interior was comfortable but sparsely furnished. The temperature was always pleasant, the filtered light clear and bright, and the views out over the stormy ocean and back toward the mainland were breathtaking. The traditional rooms—a kitchen, dining room, office, bedrooms—were below, set within the rock. And far, far, far deeper, under the ocean bed, Bas’s treasure cave lay hidden.

The reinforced glass door was flung open before she could ring the bell. “What now?”

The man who blocked the entrance was tall—six and a half feet of long legs encased in dark jeans, broad shoulders snugly wrapped in black cashmere, chiseled features, and short, dark, spiky hair. The luminous eyes that glowered down at her were a distracting golden green color, with an unmistakable amethyst rim.

George blew out a breath. There was no mistake. Bas had chosen his successor. The rest was up to her.

Continue reading

Michaeline: A Christmas Dream

Image via Wikimedia Commons

As I lay by the fire reading,

Eartha Kitt on my cell-phone singing

Of Christmas treasures Santa’d be bringing,

An orange tomcat on my lap kneading,

I let my eyes close.


Before my eyes was a gorgeous man,

Tall and handsome, wide of chest,

Firelight highlighting his golden breast.

I had to use my book as a fan

As he struck a pose.


At that moment my brain stuttered.

I let my fingers trail along that man so fine.

My fingertips took on a scented shine.

I realized that man was buttered.

Oh, my spirits rose!


As for the rest of my Christmas dream,

You’ll have to imagine it, dear pervs.

Them’s as dreams it, it deserves.

May 2022 be a sparkling stream

Of delightful prose.

Day 24: Charlie’s Golden Anniversary

Welcome the 8LW 25 Days of Stories.  

This entry is based on the story prompt of “what if your character received an anonymous/mysterious/unexpected gift?” and the following words: northern, blinking, warm, kingdom, seed, social, knuckle, bittersweet, dove, bauble, pure, invitation, coat, sticky, aversion, and challenge.

Anyone who is a fan of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or the movie starring Gene Wilder that was made from it, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, will recognize the characters below (except the new ones created and even those apples don’t fall far from their respective trees).

Without further ado, here is today’s story courtesy of 8L Jeanne.

***

Charlie’s Golden Anniversary

Charlie Bucket opened the door of his chocolate factory and shivered. The courtyard was freezing. Overhead, a banner read, “Welcome Back Golden Ticketers!” Beneath the banner stood eight people. He rubbed his hands together. “Thank you all for coming today.”

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world.” A smooth-faced woman who looked like she’d been poured into her figure-hugging purple jumpsuit pushed forward, hauling a young girl along with her. The jumpsuit wasn’t the purple of royalty, but an obnoxious shade of puce that made Charlie want to squint, even in the thin winter sunlight.

She extended fingers encrusted with purple gemstones. “Amethyst Darlingstar.”

Charlie peered at her through his bifocals. “I’m sorry. I don’t recall inviting an Amethyst Darlingstar.”

The woman stretched her red lips into a smile, though not one other muscle in her face moved. “You knew me as Violet Beauregarde. I changed my name when I became an actress. Perhaps you’ve seen some of my films?” Continue reading

Day 23: The Gift of Joy

Welcome the 8LW 25 Days of Stories.  I think my keyboard is still a little sticky from yesterday’s wonderful beekeeper story.  Today’s story went in a direction I wasn’t quite expecting when my son and I were watching Hallmark holiday movies and brainstorming ideas (possibly while drinking mimosas), but sometimes you just have to follow where inspiration leads.

This entry is based on the story prompt of “what if your character received an anonymous/mysterious/unexpected gift?” and the following words: northern, blinking, warm, kingdom, seed, social, knuckle, bittersweet, dove, bauble, pure, invitation, coat, sticky, aversion, and challenge.

Courtesy of 8L Elizabeth, here is today’s story.

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The Gift of Joy

Maggie stood in the doorway to what her husband Peter laughingly called his study and felt the bittersweet memories wash over her.   It had been two years since she’d gotten the call that had changed everything but sometimes, in moments like these, the pain felt as fresh and sharp as if it had just happened.

Deep breath in.  Deep breath out.

In hindsight, accepting one of the New Year’s Eve house-party invitations she’d received from her well-meaning friends might have been smarter than spending the day clearing out what she’d privately always thought of as the apartment’s junk drawer, but she’d put off the task far too long already. Continue reading