Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Friday already?  How did that happen?

This week didn’t include much writing outside of the day job, but I did do a great job on my “get rid of one thing every day” goal.

At the end of last year Michille posted about the successful completion of her 2019 goal to basically “get rid of stuff.”  Inspired by her resulting empty drawers and clean mudroom, I decided to adopt the goal for 2020.  I don’t have a mudroom, but I’m visualizing a tidier garage and maybe some empty dresser drawers too.

It’s currently day 16 and I’ve already gotten rid of close to 100 items.  True, many of them were holiday decorations that hadn’t been out of their boxes for years, but I’m pretty sure they still count.  Next up is the household-goods cupboard in the garage.  Since I’m pretty sure I have pots and pans out there that came from my parents house, I’m sure to find plenty of things to part with.  I’m visualizing an empty shelf in my future.

Now that I have my tidiness goal well underway, it’s time to turn my sights on writing.  I think I’ll start things off by giving today’s writing prompt and/or random words a try.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Jilly: Sunday Short Story–Early Resolution

It’s been an…interesting…start to 2020. I spent most of my time this week on a couple of real life challenges, with periodic breaks to catch up with RWA’s implosion. All of which left me feeling grumpy and sad, with zero new words on the page.

So in an attempt to cheer up my Girls and gain a bit of creative momentum, here’s a 500-word story inspired by Elizabeth’s Friday Writing Sprints, in which a character makes an unusual resolution, and featuring the prompt words courage, anchovies, beard, canvas, heaven, honest, hideaway, diva, guru, harlot, fool, garden, pearl, crimson, blossom and smile.

Here goes!

Early Resolution

It must have been the anchovies.

The last Katie could remember, she’d been in a blossom-festooned canvas marquee in a walled garden in a smart part of London. Crimson-robed staff had served exquisite bite-sized nibbles as the Guru spoke passionately of courage, and love, and the path to heaven.

She’d felt a little light-headed. One of the assistants had helped her outside into the fresh air. And now here she was in some mystery hideaway, sprawled on a gold upholstered sofa wearing nothing but a crimson thong and her faux pearl earrings.

At least now she knew what had happened to her sister. Lucy was a gullible idealist, but she was an honest fool, unlike these charlatans.

Were there hidden cameras in this place? Scanners? It seemed all too likely. Katie raked her hands through her hair and dragged them over her face, running her fingers carefully over her earrings. So far, so good.

Voices outside, low but getting louder. Male. At least two.

Decision time.

Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Happy Friday!  I’d like to say I had an extremely productive week, getting lots of writing done and tasks completed.

Sadly, that would be a  work of fiction.  In reality, I spent far too much time this week falling down the rabbit-hole that is Twitter following the RWA implosion.

On the plus side, I’ve been exposed to a whole new set of writers and learned a lot.  On the day job front, this week been a combination of wrapping up 2019 end-of-year stuff and doing 2020 planning.  We always say we’re going to get the planning all taken care of in November so we can hit the new year running, but it never, ever happens that way.

One bit of 2020 planning that I did manage to take care of this week was getting my calendar set.  I’ve scheduled regular days off each month and blocked off specific writing times.  I’ve also blocked Friday afternoons off for “quiet time” so I can get things done without interruptions – all part of my less stressful / more productive 2020 plan.  We’ll have to wait and see how that all works out.

I’m thinking this Friday’s quiet time will be a the perfect time to give today’s writing prompt and/or random words a try.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Welcome to a brand-new year of Friday Writing Sprints.

I hope your 2019 had a happy ending, whatever you were doing and however you celebrated.   Mine ended with a whimper.  Well . . .maybe that was the dog whimpering in response to all of the fireworks the neighbors were setting off.  And maybe it wasn’t fireworks we heard, but the sound of RWA imploding.

I’m enjoying one last day before heading back to the office and hours of back-to-back meetings.  I don’t mind going back too much, but I will miss lounging around in pajama pants; although, considering all of the holiday baking (and eating) I did these past few weeks, I might have to stick with them.

Ah well, good thing there is a gym at work.   Here’s hoping all of those “I’m going to work out this year” folks are still on holiday so the gym won’t be too crowded.

Whatever else happens, I’m planning to give today’s writing prompt and/or random words a try, once I get home from work.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: The Gift of Joy

We’re coming to the end of our annual Christmas Week Short Story Challenge here on the blog.  As always, the wide range of stories that resulted from a single writing prompt and set of words has amazed me.  My own story went in a direction I wasn’t quite expecting when my son and I were watching Hallmark holiday movies and brainstorming ideas (possibly while drinking mimosas), but sometimes you just have to follow where the story leads.

I hope you enjoy it.

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The Gift of Joy

Maggie stood in the doorway to what her husband Peter laughingly called his study and felt the bittersweet memories wash over her.   It had been two years since she’d gotten the call that had changed everything but sometimes, in moments like these, the pain felt as fresh and sharp as if it had just happened.

Deep breath in.  Deep breath out.

In hindsight, accepting one of the New Year’s Eve house-party invitations she’d received from her well-meaning friends might have been smarter than spending the day clearing out what she’d privately always thought of as the apartment’s junk drawer, but she’d put off the task far too long already. Continue reading

Jilly: Christmas Story–A Gift Fit for a Queen

Here’s my contribution to our 2019 short story challenge. I think I got all the prompts 🙂

Happy Holidays, all!

A Gift Fit for a Queen

“Careful with those crocks, lad.” Ben Wildridge watched hawk-eyed as his apprentice unpacked straw-filled crates containing the finest bee nectar in the northern borderlands. Maybe in the entire kingdom.

“Yes, master.” Fifteen-year-old Toby rolled his eyes, but he lifted out the earthenware jars with care, cradling each one like a priceless bauble.

Which it was. Ben sold his regular honey in the weekly market, but he saved his mountain nectar for Wintersnight. The fragrant, sticky syrup was like the essence of summer, and the high prices of the midwinter holiday made it worth his while to wait.

When the crates were empty he left Toby to set out their stall and drove the cart into the inn yard. In an hour or two the place would be nose to tail, but it was still early and the bored ostlers were more than happy to spoil Silver.

Ben knew all too well that by noon the press of bodies, the gabble of voices, the smell of woodsmoke and fried food, warm wool and unwashed skin would make him puking sick. For now he could take an hour to show the townspeople he was alive and well, and that he knew how to exchange social niceties like a civilized person, no matter what the gossips said about his aversion to crowds. Then he’d sell his nectar as fast as he could and retreat to his mountain lair.

He strolled round the half empty market, exchanging Wintersnight greetings with families he’d known all his life. He’d almost finished his rounds, a warm venison pasty for Toby in one pocket and a flagon of cordial for himself in the other, when he saw an unfamiliar stall, displaying small rock crystal jars filled with something that caught the light and glowed like amber.

It couldn’t be honey. First, he was the only honey seller in Borderbridge. Second, who ever would put honey in rock crystal? Crystal was expensive, hard to find and even harder to work. And third, surely no honey could be that bright, that clear?

He stood rooted to the cobblestones, slack-jawed and blinking, until a small woman uncapped one of the jars and used a crystal dipper to drizzle the contents over squares of fresh bread on a wooden board. His nostrils flared. His mouth watered. It was an invitation, and a challenge. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Happy Friday.  Whether you’re in the midst of holiday celebrations or enjoying the remaining days of 2019, I hope you’ve had a wonderful week.  Mine has been filled with family, good food, and maybe a jigsaw puzzle or two.

Here on the blog, we’re in the midst of our annual Christmas Week Short Story Challenge.  Several of the Eight Ladies have already posted their stories and there are a few more yet to come.  All of you blog-readers are welcome to participate as well (the story prompt and words are included below).  You can post your own story (or a link to your story) in the comments below on this post or on any of the upcoming Short Story posts.

The rules of the Challenge are simple – write a short story based on the specified prompt and include at least three of the random words on the list; extra points for including more than three words and extra points with sparkles for Holiday references.

What if:   Your character received an anonymous/mysterious/unexpected gift? Continue reading