Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Happy Friday!  It is Friday, right?  It’s so hard to keep track these days.

The pandemic is still raging on in my corner of the world, so I am doing my part by staying home and wearing a mask for my rare outings to the grocery and on my evening walks.  Working from home no longer feels like a temporary change, which is probably all for the best since there is no suggestion that I’ll be heading back to the office any time soon.

I’ve spent this past week racing my way through Ngaio Marsh mysteries.  There are 32 all told and I am currently on number 31.  It has been interesting to read a series where the main character ages and time so clearly passes.  When the books start, the main detective is a single  young man and WWII hasn’t yet happened.  Now, at the end of the series, he has married, aged, and has a grown son.  WWII has come and gone and he’s advanced from an inspector to a superintendent.  It has been an enjoyable series and the stories I’ve enjoyed the most, romantic that I am, are the one where he meets his wife-to-be and the one where she agrees to marry him; dead bodies notwithstanding.

Staying at home has left me with additional time for reading, but I can’t say that my TBR pile has experienced any noticeable reduction in size.  Ah well, at least I’ll never suffer from the problem of having nothing to read.

For now, I’m going to finish up this series and then spend a little time working in the yard.  The climbing roses have gone overboard and appear to be attempting to take over the entire house.  Some judicious trimming back is in order.  Before that, however, I think I’ll give today’s writing prompt and random words at shot.

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.


What if: “Your character starts a new business?

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

criminal       prayer          contractual      frame

violet           useless         nightmare       donkey

exhibit         neck             arcane             blueprint

ladybug       eliminate     flimsy              swamp

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!

6 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

  1. Congratulations on your reading accomplishments, Elizabeth! I can’t believe how much you get done in a day—the day job, the garden, the projects, and now the reading. I’m nothing like. Today I made pancakes. The end. Ah, well! Here’s my sprint.

    The Dressmaker
    “Darling, what are you doing?” Lulie asked. “That color of violet should be criminal. You haven’t a prayer of ever selling one, much less making it the blueprint of this useless nightmare of an enterprise.”

    Petal stepped back from the mannequin, which was draped in a flimsy ladybug print, red insects on a purple background, her mouth full of pins.

    “You don’t like it?” she mumbled around the pins. “I think it’s whimsical. What about the donkey print?”

    Lulie looked at the yellow donkeys on a green background and shuddered.

    “I’m sorry, love, but it’s hideous,” she said. “Like something dragged from a swamp. An exhibit of instruments of torture. Surely you are under no contractual obligations to continue.”

    Petal adjusted the neckline of the ladybug print dress and stepped back to frame her handiwork.

    “No, I’m not contractually obligated to continue,” she said. “I want to continue. Do you think I should eliminate the collar?”

    “You should eliminate the whole thing and give it to the orphans,” Lulie said. “If the orphans would take it. And if they had a particle of taste, they wouldn’t.”

    “Well,” Petal said practically. “You wear only black, what do you know? Such an arcane color. Really, Lulie dear, you should show more imagination.”

    • You had me at pancakes. LOL.

      Fun story, Kay. And yes, it does seem like Lulie needs to show a little more imagination. Who doesn’t like a whimsical print now and again?

    • Fun, fun, fun! I hope Petal sells enough to be comfortable and to fund the next dress enterprise!

      And yay for pancakes! I made some Thursday for lunch, and then made myself sick mowing the lawn for 45 minutes. But still, pancakes. Ideal carrier for the maple syrup.

      Elizabeth, I’ve heard so many good things about the Ngaio Marsh books. 32 books is QUITE a commitment! But they sound like fun. I didn’t know about the love story threaded through (-:. I may have to try a few. I do love a series that lets the character grow up! (the Amelia Peabody stories sprung to mind)

      I would love to see the roses if you have time to take pictures and post sometime. (-: I’m growing some in large pots this year! I hope they can survive the winter if I cart them into the garage. One is a climbing rose called Naheme, and the other is a pink cabbage whose name I forget. I cut the roses when I re-potted them, so I hope they start putting out new buds soon.

  2. Hee-hee! I’m doing a write-in with a friend! So, I got this done. I’m sorry that I’ve left out some bits from the other week to this one, but I don’t think you lose much.

    Does it count as “publishing” if you only publish little bits of it on a blog? I wonder . . . .

    • The pirates didn’t have a prayer. They were floating out of the airlock in our second-best escape pods, with the rescue beacon broadcasting to the Asteroid Belt Space Guard. Simon was still digging around in their ship, looking for anything we could salvage or tag for a Finder’s Fee while I finished wrapping up the criminals like a spider with her prey.

      “Ande, come on through the boarding tube,” Simon called.

      “Just a minute, babe,” I said, as I finished entering the last of the data into the frame. Oooh, the Space Guard would have a ball looking at Exhibit 7, where we documented the illegal entry and subsequent butt-kicking. I headed over.

      The pirate’s spaceship was like a college dorm gone mad. The air was swampy with cheap cologne and the unmistakable smell of flimsy bargain air filters that had been used for way too long. The posters were Platinum Rock and sexy Venusians posing with arcane weaponry, and I swear to god, there was a violet light, that made the lines of the Venusians pop. Oh well, I’d survived our sons’ teenage years; I could survive 15 minutes in here.

      Simon was in the captain’s hole, looking at an open rectangle in the wall.

      “Oh, there you are.” He wiggled his index finger in a pentagram over a tarot card poster of The Tower (done in the style of Donkey Johnson, a popular Platinum Metal musician of ten years ago), and a hidden panel slid shut to seamlessly conceal the space. Simon repeated the gesture, and it opened again. “I bet that’s not in the blueprint of the ship,” he said.

      “Hmm.” I said. I thought back to the gestures Lenid and Persy used to exchange, and started drawing them randomly on some of the other posters in the room. We found three more caches. One was empty, one was filled with tech earrings, another had S Unit cards from the Bank of Amagawa, and the fourth . . . .

      The captain’s hole filled with glittering, beautiful, Winking Leafhoppers, flitting through the air and landing on surfaces briefly before gliding off to the next destination. A dozen or more flew through the violet light, and left trails of sparkles in their wake.

      “Wink poachers!” I gasped.

      “Well, they haven’t been smuggling ladybugs, honey,” Simon said.

      I slipped out of the captain’s hole carefully so the Winkers would stay in (and not get smushed in the door), and ran back to our hold to pull out the Wink cages we’d stocked up on, and the Suzul Flower extract that the Winkers loved so much. The cages would be useless without the extract. I quickly set them up, and made my way back to the pirate ship, and we lured the darling little beasts into the cages without losing a single one.

      “Here’s an agreement with a nightclub on Alpha Tertius,” Simon said. “Even the contractual clauses here are stupid; these boys wouldn’t be able to negotiate a cat out of a paper bag.”

      Simon carted cages of beautiful Winking Leafhoppers into the hold, money cards (probably counterfeit), tech earrings (knock-offs, but really good knock-offs) and other incriminating evidence both digital and physical, and placed them in our own secret panels (no, I’m not going to tell you how we access THOSE). In the meantime, I documented, documented, documented. It was a pain in the neck, but the finder’s bounty was worth it, and it made doing taxes less of a nightmare if we took care of these things immediately.

      I shut down the frame, and Simon had just rustled up two cups of tea (no milk; we could swing past the X-10 Sector Station shop, now that we’d stopped anyway. I doubted they had an appliance repair shop there, but you never know until you google it), when the next announcement came over the video screen.

      “Easy Rider.” (this was the name of the pirate ship) “Prepare to be boarded. Make sure your hands and earrings are visible at all times and do not attempt any actions that may be construed as threatening to the boarding officers.” The screen filled with what looked like official biographies of the officers who would soon be boarding. They scrolled by pretty fast – I scrolled back and tried to read them slowly, but only got as far as the information about the Galaxy Committee for Safety and Security.

      “Hot damn,” an unmuted voice said from the screen. “That’s the KESTREL’S DELIGHT.” There was a tone of awe in her voice that was, in my opinion at the time, completely unwarranted for a little geriatric VW Airbus. Karlous, the stoner, must have not been complete about the history of his little toy. Little did I know . . . .

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