Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Fall allegedly kicked off earlier this week, but here on the west coast summer hasn’t quite released its grip.

There are still ants randomly roaming in my kitchen and I’m still sleeping with the fan on, but I have hopes that both will be a thing of the past in a few weeks.  It’s not that I’m in a rush for the passage of time, I’m just looking forward to transitioning my wardrobe from summer to fall.  Everything except my sandals that is, those I wear rain or shine.

This weekend is time for my annual “go through the closet/dresser and get rid of the things that are never going to be worn again” exercise.  I’ll undoubtedly wind up with a bag of items to donate to the local charity shop and probably also manage to unearth a few items that I didn’t even remember I had.

Before all that excitement I plan to do some writing, starting 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.

Ready?

What if: “Your character was featured in the newspaper?”

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

bikini        flirtation      blowtorch     confidential

parcel       baptism        excuse          dishonest

lump         warning        needle          heavenly

twisted     mindless       fake              sky

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!

14 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

  1. Love these prompt words, Elizabeth! I’ve been out around town all day with London romance/YA/fantasy writer AY Chao. Spent an excellent day walking, talking, and drinking tea with visiting Golden Heart finalist/winner Janet Raye Stevens. So today was full of Very Good Book Stuff, but no actual writing.

    Fingers crossed for tomorrow!

  2. I meant to bring this sprint around to the character getting photographed for the newspaper, but then…it didn’t happen.

    The Parade
    “Are these boobs fake?” Camilla Twiggenbotham, parade superintendent and pageant queen bee, tugged at Blue’s sky-blue bikini top, all but causing a wardrobe malfunction right there in front of 200 people at the corner of Vine and First Streets.

    “No!” Blue yelped, slapping Camilla’s hand away.

    “Because I’m warning you, if you’ve been dishonest—”

    “Why did I ever enter this twisted pageant?” Blue asked no one in particular.

    “Why was I cursed with a prima donna for Cottage Cheese Princess?” Camilla replied. “These mindless flirtations with existentialism are pointless. Now, let me tack down your sash. The way you’re wearing it, it looks like a belt.” She whipped a needle and thread from somewhere on her person and made two swift stitches, affixing the sash that confirmed Blue’s coronation to the shoulder strap of her bathing suit. Then she handed Blue a lumpy parcel.

    “The parade’s about to start,” she said. “Toss the candy to the children only at the street corners. No place else. Don’t hit them in the eye. Don’t let them get too close to the tractor. No excuses. Got that?”

    “It’s not too late to back out,” Blue said, continuing her conversation with herself.

    “Yes, it is,” Camilla said. “You signed a confidentiality agreement.”

    “I could take a blowtorch to this float, no one would miss it. Baptism by fire. Hah!” She tore open the parcel and helped herself to a miniature Tootsie Roll. “These are heavenly, but I think they’re not good for small children. Choking hazard, and all that.”

    “Toss all the candy,” Camilla said. “If you know what’s good for you.”

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  4. OK, I finished Porky Pie! I used a few words from the August 9 Sprints, though. I’m going to catch up reading all the sprints from then to now, and then start off with new stories on Oct. 1. And here’s the last installment of Porky Pie, which could be continued after I get some Halloween things done.

    The ride to the Estate was short, and I took stock of my meager weapons. Half a deck of Tarot cards. An empty wine bottle. The last will and testament of Philip J. Worthington, the crazy Old Man who was the Estate’s current owner’s grandfather, and so, it seemed, mine as well. A mysterious USB stick found on my ex-fiance’s dead body last night. My wallet, which contained my driver’s license, my credit cards and $8.59. Oh, and a lucky frog charm from Japan. And, of course, the tote bag that contained all of that. Jonas, my best friend and worst critic, was trussed up next to my side, but aside from his sharp tongue and quick wits, I don’t think Jonas had a single weapon to his name, let alone in this car. Maybe a sharpened pencil, but I couldn’t count on that.

    In front, Nasty Sam and Ash-Honey seemed to be having a lover’s tiff. The ten words exchanged were tinged with sarcasm and regrets. None of them told me anything about what waited for us at the Estate.

    They drove the car up the circle drive, and hustled us up the marble steps. The sun was high in the sky at this point, and I couldn’t see anything in the dim hall except three hulking figures.

    “Good. You brought them.” It was the baritone from the breakfast room – so that must be the Assassin. “Give me her bag.”

    Nasty Sam wrestled with it for a minute, trying to tug it past my tied hands, until he finally nodded to Ash-Honey. “Better untie her. I’ll hold onto her so she doesn’t escape.”

    “Again,” Ash-Honey added and Sam grimaced. I was undone and powerless as she handed the bag to the Assassin. He dug ruthlessly through my bag, tossing the items and papers on the floor until he held up the stick. My eyes had about adjusted to the dimness, and I could see what probably passed as a grin creep over his face.

    “This is probably it. Marco, take it to the secure computer in the study, and make sure.”

    The henchman glided into the side room, like a tank on roller skates, and the Assassin walked around Jonas and I.

    “Now, what to do with you? I can’t kill you. There’s already been too much killing this month.” He glared at Ash and Sam, and they had the sense to look ashamed. “Tie her back up, and we’ll stash them in the beekeeper’s lodge until tomorrow morning. By then, I’ll be in Russia, and it won’t matter anymore what they say.”

    “Not that nutcase,” Jonas muttered as Ash-honey whined, “But what about us?”

    “Ash-honey, we’ll be half way to Florida by that time.” He hugged her shoulders. “No need to fret Mr. Worthington over any little details.”

    Oh, something big was going down. Worthington was ready to abandon the Estate and everything he owned in America for some sort of asylum in Russia, where he thought he’d be beyond the reach of the law. And he was probably right. At least we weren’t dead. Not yet, anyway. We could just cooperate, hang out in that creepy old bee-keeper’s lodge until the morning, and we’d know nothing and be in no danger of getting slipped some plutonium tea.

    But damn, it was big. And Bob had died for it.

    There was a scratching at the door. “Mykos, go see who that is,” Worthington said. Mykos opened the door and there was Porky Pie, lunging for his chest, knocking him to the ground. I leaned down, grabbed my trusty wine bottle, and bonked Sam over the head, while Jonas body slammed Ash and knocked her to the floor. Jonas and I fled for the breakfast room, and I could hear Porky Pie’s toenails skittering on the marble, as Worthington called for Marcos. We ran through the French doors, and down the lawn, passing the surprised beekeeper who seemed inclined for a chat, but there was no time for that.

    We ran down to the creek and met up with Officer Jim and the forensic team. They had just finished packing poor Bob into a body bag, and a cranky Deputy Elena stopped us at the yellow tape. “Don’t you dare mess up my crime scene!” she scolded.

    “Please, they’re after us.” Jonas panted heavily. Officer Jim radioed for back up as the whole gang came crashing through the blueberry bushes.

    “Oh, shee-it,” Nasty Sam said as they overran the fluttering yellow barrier.

    “You’re under arrest for tampering with a crime scene,” Deputy Elena said. Officers who had been scouring the woods for more clues burst onto the clearing and handily captured the two bodyguards and Sam and Ash.

    “The Assassin – Worthington – is still at the house!” Jonas shouted. Deputy Elena quickly sliced the rope binding his hands, and we headed back to the house.

    “The beekeeper . . . maybe they have gone back to their lodge,” I said. A couple of officers peeled off to check the lodge.

    Worthington was in the garage, about to slip into his black Lexus when Deputy Elena collared him. Deputy Elena and I were going to have to grab some coffee together sometime. I hadn’t realized she was such a capable woman.
    However, a quick pat-down did not reveal the missing USB stick. That tingling feeling at the base of my spine told me it was the key to everything – locking up Worthington, and even the continued existence of me and Jonas depended on it, I felt. Porky Pie brushed against my thigh. I kneeled down, and looked up into his big brown eye while cradling his fluffy cheeks in my hands. “Porky Pie, do you think you can sniff out the USB stick?”

    “Ugh, he’s a normal dog, Katie, not Lassie the Wonderpup,” Jonas scolded. Porky Pie cast a disdainful glare at Jonas, and barked once, then commenced sniffing the floor. He leapt into the Lexus, and pawed at the glove compartment. Inside, the USB stick for the stereo looked suspiciously familiar . . . it had the same little scratch on the case as the USB stick Porky Pie had gotten from Ash and Sam last night.

    “Good boy, Porky Pie!” I gave him a good rub on the shoulders, and Deputy Elena took charge of the evidence. No more tingles.

    After a debriefing and questioning, Jonas, Porky Pie and I made our way back to my car. I had the mysterious will and testament, and I was going to put it in the safe deposit box before heading home to sleep – that tingling feeling in my spine told me there’d be no more adventures today, but better safe than sorry. My dad would be home today, and could take care of it, and I could get a good afternoon’s sleep.

    “Well, Katie, if you are going to be the new mistress of the Estate, maybe you can give me a room, and I can tell that Andrews woman to go fuck herself.”

    “Jonas! I’m sure your grandmother would be happy to see your Sunset at the Prom masterpiece. But of course, you can stay if it turns out to be my dad’s house.” I chewed on my fingernail. I had a feeling it was going to be a tax liability . . . not the tingling danger feeling at the bottom of my spine, but a more intellectual “this is going to cause more problems than it’s going to solve” sort of buzz at the base of my neck. “Maybe we can start an artists’ colony there. Or maybe make it a haunted house, and I could give readings.”

    “Katie, you know you don’t have the distance to make a good reader. You’d wind up dragging all your clients through the woods, up a creek and past the creepy beekeeper. You are going to let the bees go wild when you own the house, aren’t you?”

    “I don’t know if that’d be fair to the beekeeper. We’ll see.” I gave Porky Pie’s ears a little skritch. “We’ll see tomorrow.”

    • The good guys won, the baddies ended up in the clink, and Porky Pie saved the day. Yay! Did we ever find out what was on the USB stick? What was in the mysterious will? Does Katie inherit the estate and save it from the clutches of the tax man? And do they get delicious wild honey from the bees? I’d love to read more Porky-Pie at some point if the muse tempts you in that direction.

      That was a successful staycation!

      • Oh, so . . . the USB stick contents were spy stuff, whistleblower stuff maybe, that would allow Worthington to . . . IDK, blackmail the top tier of government, except the government turned out to have resources Worthington didn’t count on, and so he was using the contents as his ticket to Russia. IDK, gotta clear that up.

        The will stated that Katie’s dad was the son and heir of Old Man Worthington, not bad buy Worthington — meant to make that a complication, but I really wanted to finish this story, too.

        Katie will inherit the estate and turn it into some crazy money-making scheme that barely makes the taxes and groceries.

        I don’t know about the bees, man. They just came into the story, and . . . well, I’ll have to write more to find out. I’m scared of bees. Who knows what happens when you eat their wild honey? Could be feeding on poisonous nightshade flowers.

        (-: I hope Porky-Pie comes back to play. Dogs, Tarot, spooky mansions with mysterious passages . . . lots of fun! I don’t know why I didn’t dive back into finishing the story, except I have a problem with endings in general.

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