Elizabeth: Friday Story Time and Sprints

I have lots of books to be read, stories to be written, and tasks to complete from my ever-expanding ToDo list.  Naturally, I decided to stop by the local craft store the other day, just to look around.  I didn’t need anything, of course, but they had yarn on sale and I found some that was pretty and super-soft (and did I mention on sale!), so naturally I had to get it.

That is why instead of reading or writing or doing, I’ve spent the last few evenings after work turning six skeins of pretty, super-soft yarn into a pretty, super-soft blanket, courtesy of my trusty “J” crochet hook.  Can a person really have too many blankets?  I’m hoping the answer is no, otherwise I might have to go into the blanket-fort-building business, just to justify their existence.

Anyway, the weather has taken a turn toward the chilly in recent days – perfect time to curl up on the couch with a my new fluffy blanket, a pot of tea, and get some words on the page.  I have a number of stories in progress, not to mention several shiny new ideas floating around, but I think I’ll start out giving today’s random words and writing prompt 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), 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, maybe today’s writing prompt will catch your creative fancy.

Ready?

Here we go:

“When restoring an old house, a mystery writer finds a hidden passageway ”

Feel free to include any (or all) of the following random words:

locked       dusty           cobweb      brick

splinter     damp           artificial     haunting

camel        curse           vision          skull

blade         avenging    amateur     paradox

Whether you’re sharing a bit of your current work or writing something fresh based on the writing prompt, we hope you’ll join us for today’s Story Time.

Happy writing to all!

12 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Friday Story Time and Sprints

  1. I just had to say something about crochet blankets, I’m in the same cart as you. How many is too many?
    I write mostly poetry but I have always wanted to write a book, maybe I should get started. Peace my friend.

  2. This is a bit weird, but it’s what I got, and I think I picked off all the words.

    Archie Forlorn-Hope prised the splinter from his finger with the tip of his utility knife, avoiding the blade. He spat on his sore digit, wiped it on his damp t-shirt and got back to business with the sandpaper. Buying a house and restoring it to its former glory was a ludicrously expensive way to cure writer’s block, but if it broke the curse it would be worth every penny.

    Peter Prolific had written all twenty-five of his Jack Popular police procedurals in this very library, in this red-brick Georgian pile. Pete had described his library as the secret to his success in the New York Times, the London Times, and to countless Hollywood producers. More convincingly, he’d said the exact same thing to his fellow penmonkeys down the Inky Finger after eight pints and a curry.

    Popular Place had been locked up since Pete disappeared, abandoning his worldly goods, his fictional detective, and his devoted readership without leaving a single clue. Amateur detectives the world over had spewed terrabytes of speculation. Professional sleuths had plied their trade with more lucrative enthusiasm but equal lack of success.

    Two decades later, the machinery of bureaucracy finally ground to a conclusion. A distant relative of Pete’s in Tasmania got the cash, and Archie emptied his last royalty account to buy the legendary ruin, complete with contents. Right now he didn’t need to—couldn’t afford to—fix the leaky roof or the woodworm-riddled timbers. If he could just restore the library, he’d be able to write again. His vision would flow unimpeded to his keyboard, and the greatest detective novel ever would finally be made manifest.

    His reputation would be restored. So would his fortune. And then, in grateful thanks, he’d fix the house, finish Pete’s series and give Jack Popular his deserved final triumph against the Avenging Assassin.

    The bookshelves were solid oak, tightly fitted from floor to ceiling. One more rub down with the sandpaper and he’d be able to varnish them. Then he’d sit in Pete’s newly-restored chair, at his polished and gleaming desk, and literary magic would happen.

    He pushed the sandpaper hard against a stubborn knot. For a moment nothing happened except the abrasive paper rubbing painfully against his broken skin. Then, with a haunting noise somewhere between a creak and a scream, the whole section swung away from the wall, revealing a dark, narrow spiral staircase descending into dusty, cobweb-ridden depths.

    Archie grabbed his phone, powered up the torch app, and made his way carefully down, down, down the cast iron treads. By the time he reached the vaulted cellar his artificial hip was throbbing and his mouth was drier than a camel’s bum.

    He flashed his torch around the cellar. Wine. Racks and racks of it. He moved closer, blew the dust off a bottle or two, and ran his hands through his hair, massaging his suddenly aching skull. Latour, Lafite, Mouton, Cheval Blanc. Hermitage. DRC. Liquid genius in a bottle.

    And sitting on the single table: an empty bottle of Chateau Petrus 2000, a wine-crusted glass, and a manuscript. Single spaced, neatly stacked, its title neatly typed on the covering page: The Paradox of Jack Popular.

    • What fun, Jilly! I love the names. And I love it how we have our detectives whose names both start with A (Archie and Augie) who have writers block. Do great minds think alike, or what? Or maybe it’s Elizabeth’s word cues. 🙂

    • I love it, Jilly, especially the names.

      Oh the things one will do to deal with writer’s block. I’ll have to admit, I thought Peter Prolific might be down there in those cobweb-ridden depths.

      • You know what, so did I! I held on to the “skull” prompt word right to the end, thinking I’d use it for Pete’s bony remains. I also thought the bookcase/door might swing closed again, which would have been very bad news for Archie. When I got into the cellar, though, my mood mellowed at the thought of all that fantastic wine and books in the making 😉

  3. I wish I could crochet! I used to knit when I was younger; I found it therapeutic. But I let that go a long time ago, and I’m not sure I could remember how to do cables or turn heels on socks the way I used to. So, anyway, here’s my sprint!

    The Task of Colorado

    Dynasty McQueen put down her sledge hammer and mopped her damp forehead. Taking down a brick wall, even if it wasn’t load-bearing, was dusty work.

    Restoring the old Lawless-Colorado mansion made a nice change from figuring out the latest antics of her fictional creation, amateur detective Augie Stiles. The paradox of creating a character who then refused to behave as ordered made physical labor, no matter how heavy, a welcome relief. And maybe the work would clear the cobwebs from her brain.

    She took a slug of water from her leak-proof, impact-resistant, BPA-free, and dishwasher-safe reusable water bottle and resumed her task, swinging the blade with the determination of an avenging angel. She didn’t understand why the brick wall was there—she could see the load-bearing wall through the hole she’d created. It was only three or four feet away, so what was that about? Someone had built a cell to lock away a crazy relative? Would she find a skull back there?

    Poe had written a story—The Cask of Amontillado—about that very thing. By buying the old Lawless-Colorado place, had she stumbled into a similar situation? Was the house under a curse? Was it haunted?

    Too late now. She’d bought the place, lock, stock, and splinters.

    She hammered through the artificial wall, until, an hour later, enough was torn down that she could step into the narrow opening. What she saw shocked her.

    The tiny, secret passage concealed a beautifully tiled fireplace, decorated in images of palm trees, camels, and tents. Hanging from the ceiling in the far corner was a huge wasp nest, at least three feet in diameter. Dead wasps covered the floor. The nest itself looked like a mass of gray paper-mâché.

    What had happened? The family had been unable to remove the wasps coming down the chimney and decided it was easier to wall up the nest than remove it? All they had to do, Dynasty reflected, was call an exterminator, put a screen on the top of the chimney to prevent further wasps from entering that way, and they’d be done.

    Evidently the Lawless-Colorado family liked to do things the hard way. Or maybe fifty years ago, they couldn’t find an exterminator.

    Dynasty put down her sledge hammer, grinning to herself. The Lawless-Colorados weren’t the only ones who chose the difficult path.

    She pulled out her phone. She needed an exterminator. And maybe a shaman.

    Just to be sure.

  4. Just wanted to comment on a couple of things, Elizabeth. I don’t usually do blankets because of the time commitment (and the counting that’s necessary for the kind of patterns I like!), but I’ve been thinking I need a winter scarf. Might as well crochet one!

    Also, these have been great writing prompts. I have such a weird process — I’ve had that last story with Kitty the former stripper on my computer for the last few weeks, and I feel like I must get it done before I can play again. And, I can’t look other people’s stuff until I’ve taken a stab at the words, or until I’ve given up. Weird rules, but here we are, Friday again in my time zone. I figure I have about four hours to finish up that story so I have a shot at playing in this week’s game! We’ll see what happens. I feel moderately hopeful, but I’ve felt moderately hopeful before.

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