I’ve been off this week at a sustainability / climate change conference. It was equal parts “we can do this” optimism and “we’re all going to die” terror.
There was also a plenary session by Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action. It was fascinating to hear how she saw an issue, decided to do something about it, and started a major movement. If you’re not familiar with Moms Demand Action, the Mothers Against Drunk Driving for gun violence, you can Google them. They are doing great work which, based on today’s news, is needed more than ever.
After spending days learning, worrying, networking, and eating some really tasty food, I’m now trying to take care of all of the outstanding tasks that are littering my desk and inbox.
More good times.
Somewhere along the line I also need need to carve out some writing time so I can get today’s words on the page. I think I’ll give the writing prompt and random words below a try and see where that takes me.
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 random words and writing prompt will catch your creative fancy.
What if: “Your character joins a new club?
Feel free to interpret the “What if” any way you choose (or ignore it completely) and include any (or all) of the following random words:
blight bane sparkle blossoming
darkness silence scheme cupcakes
ruin promise spirit nature
fun life terror shiny
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!
I didn’t have much time to sprint today, but I at least wanted to post what I’ve got so far. I’ll continue the story over the weekend. If you want to add to it, go right ahead.
The Confectionery Courtship
A year ago, if asked how she felt about Alex Monroe, Becky would have responded with words like “blight”, “bane”, and “blackguard”.
Over a gin and tonic she might, if pressed, have explained how he’d ruined her third-grade birthday party, terrorized her and her friends as they’d walked home from Junior high school, and schemed to unseat her as class president.
Never though, not even in the silence of the long dark night, would she mention how he’d broken her heart when he’d asked her to the Prom and then cancelled at the last minute to go with Judy Wilkins instead.
It was all ancient history but that didn’t mean it was forgotten.
Becky had promised herself back then that she’d . . .
I’ve been short of time, too, the last few weeks, but I couldn’t resist this.
Becky had promised herself back then that she’d never let that man ruin another moment of her life. But then, when she made that promise she had no idea he’d open his shiny new artisanal bakery next door to her beloved coffee shop.
The blackguard was a force of nature. His candy-colored fun palace had the town’s unattached women queuing outside his store, primed to sparkle and scheme and flirt on the flimsy pretext of sampling his fragrant vanilla bean cupcakes.
The fact that he kept them all at a smiling arms’ length that made not a whit of difference to Becky. She met every one of his seductive overtures with tight-lipped silence, retreating behind her counter to take refuge in the fragrant darkness of her perfectly roasted single estate arabica beans.
Until . . .
Very nice, Jilly, but you’ve definitely left things hanging. I wonder what happens next?
I didn’t want to hijack your whole story, but since you ask…how about this?
Until the evening she found a small decorated tin on the table outside her store.
Ever since Becky opened the shop it had been her custom to spend the half-hour after closing sitting in one of the comfortable chairs on the veranda with a mug of the Coffee of the Day. She’d close her eyes, inhale the delicious aroma, sip the brew and slowly let go of the day’s small victories and pinpricks.
The day had been more pinpricks than victories, and for once she was glad to have reached her quiet time. She set down her mug, settled herself in her favorite chair, and picked up the tin.
It sat neatly on her palm, a hand-enameled treasure in swirls of brown, rich orange and warm yellow, highlighted with touches of gold. It looked vintage but it was in perfect, shining condition. Becky looked around, but it was almost dinnertime and there was nobody to be seen. She flipped open the lid, releasing a mouthwatering aroma of subtle spice overlaid with nuts and a hint of something delicate, exotically fruity. The source of the smell was hidden beneath carefully wrapped tissue paper, but sitting on top was a square of heavy cream card with a hand-written message: Try Me With Costa Rica Tarrazu.
The only person drinking Costa Rica Tarrazu on this veranda was Becky.
She sipped her coffee and waited, just in case. Nothing. She folded back the tissue paper. Inside sat a perfect heart-shaped lebkuchen cookie topped with shiny, glossy icing: for Becky.
It was almost a crime to eat it, but she couldn’t resist. The taste was more nutty than spicy, with just a touch of tangy dried fruit and candied peel. It complemented her coffee so perfectly she made both last as long as she could, alternating tiny nibbles of cookie with small sips of coffee.
The annoyances of the day melted like icing on her tongue, leaving her to chew on the mystery of her unexpected gift. Who? The obvious answer would be her obnoxious neighbor. Really?
She spent an extra half-hour trying to find an ulterior motive. She came up empty, so eventually she went back into her shop. She’d already chosen the next day’s coffee, so she measured a single serving of beans into a brown paper packet and added the sticker. Ethiopia Bench Maji. She tucked it carefully in the tissue paper, wrote thank you on the card, closed up the tin and left it on the table. Then she went home, licking her lips to chase the last taste of spice and sweetness.
In the morning the tin was gone. Becky never saw it happen but by closing time it was back on the table. This time the lebkuchen was meltingly thin, redolent of late-blossoming acacia honey and studded with tiny wild cherries that were so good with the delicate Ethiopian coffee she sighed out loud. The iced message read: Try Me, Too?
She left medium-roasted Brazil Bourbon beans and a one-word reply. Why?
The answer came the following day in chocolate glaze on a rich, chewy, spiced work of art laced with dark caramel. It transformed her Brazil Bourbon into the spirit of the gods. We’d be this good together.
Could anyone be that perfectly matched? Once upon a time she’d thought so. She turned her head and caught a flicker of movement in the window above the bakery. He wasn’t smiling. His usual smug confidence was nowhere to be seen. In fact he looked…nervous?
Could she do this? If she didn’t try, she’d regret it forever. Becky swallowed her terror, pushed back her chair and went back into the shop. Brewed up a second mug of Brazil Bourbon. Carried it outside and set it on the table in front of the empty chair opposite hers.
That was great, Jilly. Feel free to hijack at any time. I awoke this morning planning to write about how Becky had a change of heart and let go of the grievences of the past after Alex came to her rescue after an earthquake left her trapped beneath an avalanche of coffee cases, but your tale was much tastier and far less hazardous for both Becky and Alex.
I am craving treats and coffee though!
Well, bother, I thought maybe you were up to your keyboard in NaNo. Now I want the earthquake story. Maybe that’s what happened after Alex persuaded Becky to give him another chance? Tasty treats are seductive, but a life-saving rescue is true blue hero behavior.
PS I’m craving dark chocolate coated lebkuchen, and it’s all your fault for calling your sprint The Confectionery Courtship 😉 .
Not to worry, Jilly. Loved your continuation of the story and appreciate your vicarious NaNo support.
Now excuse me but I need to search the internet for a “dark chocolate coated lebkuchen” recipe.