Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

I can’t believe some kids have already started back to school this week.  Didn’t summer just start?

Next thing you know there will be winter clothes in the stores and holiday decorations on the shelves at Costco.

*checks ad for local store*

Oh . . . never mind.

Regardless of what season it may be, I’m sipping iced coffee and trying to decide which book will make it off the TBR pile and into the active-reading stage this weekend.

Sure there is yard-work to do, groceries to buy, and writing to do, but both the TBR pile and I could use a little slimming down.  For my part, I blame the donuts and root-beer float that were necessary to make it through this week at work.  The TRB pile, on the other hand, owes its growth to the recent RWA conference.

Before I get lost in a book (and forget about the yard-work and groceries), I’m going to make sure to get in some focused writing time.  I think I’ll start things off with today’s story prompt and random words.

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 today’s story prompt and/or random words will catch your creative fancy.


What if: “Your character has to make a life-changing decision?”

Feel free to interpret the “What if” any way you choose and include any (or all) of the following random words:

lockbox          hesitation          blink            freakish

evolution       healer                 thunder       analytical

hat                  confusion           bake            hollow

blueberry       ambidextrous    gang           contractual

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 “what-if” prompts.  Ideas are always welcome.

Happy writing to all!

13 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

  1. Thank you – truly! I’m still two novellas behind, filling in the gaps, but with much planning down. This latest sprint has enabled to write the very end of my last novella, in Series Two. Apologies if it’s rather too long. I managed to use up all the words supplied.

    “The five incongruous couples gathered before a long table, specially erected for the occasion and covered in a pure white linen cloth, placed below the minstrels’ gallery in the hotel ballroom. It reminded Ella of an alter, a deliberate choice on Daphne’s part, as organiser of the proceedings. She’d have chosen a church wedding for herself, she’d admitted, as there would have been no reason not to in other circumstances since both she and Saul were widowed. But her remorse over the past where both Damien and Harriet were concerned, a matter with which Saul had heartily agreed given his own guilt over Harriet, had dictated a civil affair, and what better place to hold it than the ballroom at the Golden Cage Hotel? The others, being of no particular religious persuasion – at least not these days – were equally content to go along with this arrangement, and to do so altogether was not only cheaper, but convenient. Safety in numbers, perhaps?

    From left to right, Ella surveyed the row. First Saul, dapper in a pale grey morning suit with a shell pink tie commissioned by Daphne and made by ‘Neckerchief’. It matched the rose bud in his buttonhole, and the coronet surrounding Daphne’s usual silver-grey top-knot, and Daphne’s bouquet, which she passed to Harriet, standing right behind her, beside Ella. Then Ella’s dad, immediately in front, clad in a sombre charcoal coloured suit which he’d brought out from the back of the wardrobe, unsure how to dress for the occasion. Like both Saul and Daphne, his mind was on past events, and another marriage to her mum, Ella knew it. She was there, suspended in ethereal form above them, looking down on both her late husband, and his bride-to-be, dressed conservatively in a suit the colour of oysters, and matching headgear – an analytical choice, somewhere between a fascinator and a proper hat, with a tiny brim, and some layers of frothy net in which a single cream artificial rose peeped out from a hollow.

    In the centre of the row stood Fennel and Darren, the only pair to be dressed traditionally. Fennel’s strawberry-blonde locks coiled into loose curls beneath a veil of lace, tendrils of hair hanging down at either side, just like on the eve of the engagement ball at the Golden Cage Hotel, which had never taken place. Like Damien, Sam Edwards was now behind bars, enabling Darren to stand there instead, proud in black morning suit and tails, and a white carnation in his buttonhole.

    Next to them – Anton and Leon. Anton wore the uniform white suit he always appeared in at the Golden Cage Hotel when playing the restaurant piano. He sometimes wore it for gigs with ‘Swingin’ Harder than a Hammer’ – depending on the nature of the event, Ella had noticed. The freakish Leon also wore a suit Ella had seen him in before, worn too at some of these gigs: black pinstripes on raspberry. It seemed that the pair’s contractual arrangement in musical matters was of equal importance to tying the knot.

    And last of all – Kenneth and Wilma, at the far end. The elderly gentleman had insisted on wearing the dinner jacket he’d acquired from Olly Parker’s shop in the Portobello Road, even though the place had fallen into disrepute. Kenneth believed that it was the very same suit he’d worn for his marriage to Wilma all those years ago. As Wilma sported the same black patent stilettos surmounted with black tulle and rhinestones that she’d had on when Kenneth got down on one knee and proposed to her all those years ago, who was she to argue with her husband’s choice? – especially as they were about to renew their vows and consolidate their love for each other with a weekend for two in the hotel’s royal bedchamber.

    Ella’s eyes strayed back to Fennel, the lady in white, at the centre of the row, a pomander of artificial white roses, decked with pearls, hanging from her wrist by a white lace ribbon. For a moment it seemed that the occasion was just about her, and the beautiful white silk dress, with low cut neckline, and gentle pleats falling away from an empire waist, ending in a semicircular train that trailed on the floor behind her. It might have been Ella standing there next to Darren, about to sign her life away. It might have been Fennel standing next to Martin, once upon a time, or Ella. Or it might have been someone else – Jake Abbott down on one knee like Kenneth – with a Cinderella glass slipper in his hand, begging for her hand in marriage. Such was the dream she’d had the night before, and in the midst of the confusion she’d awoken, unsure what might have happened next. Unhappy with what might have happened next, she now realised.

    The ceremony had begun: a short address given by the registrar, a plump lady in a black suit. Given the number of couples, she wasted no time in reading out the civil marriage rights, and without hesitation on anyone’s part, extracted agreement from each couple as to their commitment to one another. Next rings were exchanged, kept overnight in the hotel’s lockbox.

    The last of the couples to be pronounced man and wife, Saul stooped to kiss Daphne on the cheek to loud applause. The others took their cue from them. Alan and Jean exchanged a fond embrace; Kenneth reached for Wilma’s hand and kissed it. Wilma blushed. Leon wasted no time in kissing Anton smack on the lips. Darren placed his hands on Fennel’s upper arms, possessing her, bending forward to brush her cheek. An understated display of deep, deep love and gratitude. In the blink of an eye, the ceremony was over.

    The ambidextrous Fennel tossed the rose and pearl pomander into the air, and Ella caught it. Her adversary turned to her, the faintest smile touching the corners of her lips. Forgive me, they mouthed, but Ella had already done so, after hearing her story. Ella had been as much to blame, and in return she asked forgiveness too, silently, as a prayer to a higher force.

    ‘It’s your turn now,’ Fennel whispered into Ella’s ear, as she led the way forward towards the banquet spread out on another long table, at the edge of the ballroom, just like it had been for her aborted engagement celebration. This time the participants fell upon the food: a vegetarian pasta bake, smoked salmon, new potatoes and salad. Not least, slices of blueberry cheesecake, instead of one of those ostentatious, tiered monstrosities, as Kenneth put it.

    Roddy sidled up to her. He reached into his suit pocket and drew out the ruby ring they’d found together, beneath Alice Emsley’s floorboards, weeks ago.

    ‘Marry me Ella,’ he breathed.

    Of course she’d marry him! How blind she’d been, searching for stuff that didn’t matter to her at all. A life of luxury, empty and valueless, and a gang of cyberbullies. She’d go to evening art classes, do the thing she’d always wanted, knowing that Roddy would support her, no matter what.

    Ruth Bright looked on, happy now her daughter had at last found what she really needed: simply love. The evolution of a time old truth, like a thunderbolt from heaven. Like unto like is drawn. Time was a healer.”

    From ‘The Ring’: a novella still to be completed.

  2. Pingback: Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – Freedom Writing

  3. It’s my first sprint back! And it took me twice as long as usual, and I still couldn’t get in two of the words, but hey. It’s a start.

    The Apprentice Baker

    Zadie Lynn Harris tied the oversized white apron around her middle and hesitated in the stillness of the early morning bakery. Today she was on her own, assigned for the first time to bake the blueberry knuckle pie. The award-winning, crowd-pleasing, best-selling, blueberry knuckle pie.

    She could not fail. Her assurances to the collective gang that she was ready would ring more hollow than cream puffs, more bitter than 96 percent cacao if she couldn’t deliver. Contractual promises meant nothing if she screwed this one up.

    She shoved the white chef’s hat to the back of her head and keyed in the combination to the lockbox where all the recipes were kept. She thumbed through the dessert file and then blinked in confusion.

    The recipe wasn’t there. The recipe that had single-handedly—if such a thing could be said about a pie—enabled the evolution of a home-kitchen-based, lunchtime sweets delivery service to a full-service bakery and coffee shop wasn’t there.

    It was freakish. Impossible to explain.

    The head baker would expect her to do—what? Her analytical mind said, not call him at three in the morning, that was for sure. Maybe this was a test. Maybe he wanted her to—what?

    As Zadie Lynn’s head started to pound, thunder crashed against the windows, making her jump. Great. Now the humidity would screw up her liquid measurements, on top of everything else.

    She checked the walk-in cooler. No blueberries, either, of course. But she had peaches. Big, glowing, ripe, yellow peaches.

    Today, Zadie thought, taking the peaches out of the cooler and slamming the door closed with her foot, today there would be something new in the case. Today, she, Zadie Lynn Harris, would make peach gravel cobbler.

    And it would be delicious.

    • Welcome back, Kay. The peach gravel cobbler smells delicious from here (I hope that is not real gravel in there though).

      The big question, however, is where is that blueberry knuckle pie recipe? Inquiring minds want to know.

      • Thanks for having me here Elizabeth, I just hope you don’t mind me posting quite so regularly. I wish there were some more offerings here as well, as this is such a good idea. Let me know if you’d rather not have too many ‘guest’ appearances.

  4. ….all I can say is that this has opened up so many possibilities for me. Already I have much improved upon my snippet and added to it. Pure magic! Thank you again – your blog will get a mention in my book credits when the time comes!

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