Elizabeth: (More) Unfinished Business

Last week I posted the beginning of my Short Story Week offering.  I’d like to say I planned to make it a two-part story, but honesty compels me to admit that I actually just ran out of time last week.  And then, of course, I managed to get myself stuck, unable to decide exactly how my undercover agents were going to get their happily ever after.

Fortunately, after a week’s worth of thought and a fair number of deleted words, I think I finally got it.

Without further ado, here is the complete Short Story Challenge story with, I think, all of the random words included.

Enjoy.

Unfinished Business

“Is this some kind of joke?” Amelia glared across the desk at Mr. Saunders who sat in his tufted velvet ergonomic desk chair like he was royalty, rather than the mid-level bureaucratic puppet she knew he was.

“Mr. Saunders—if that was really his name—steepled his fingers over a protruding belly that would have put Kris Kringle to shame and adopted a benevolent master-of-the-universe expression that invited Amelia to cooperate and comply.

All it did was make her wish she had a blunt instrument handy. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Unfinished Business

One of my early attempts for our 2018 short story challenge included a pair of spies working undercover who had been trapped into getting married, so as not to blow their cover.  Unfortunately, the bride just could not seem to keep the look of loathing off of her face during the ceremony, which made me think it was going to take more than a short story for me to get them to any semblance of a happy ending.

I swapped out the troublesome spies for a more amenable couple and wrote A Change of Plans instead, but I didn’t completely forget about the spies.  When I saw this year’s words, I thought maybe it was time to give the two of them another chance, after all, they’ve had two years to get to know each other and work out their differences.

Surely they’re ready for their own happily ever afterby now, right?

Let’s see how it goes, shall we?

 Unfinished Business

“Is this some kind of joke?” Amelia glared across the desk at Mr. Saunders who sat in his tufted velvet ergonomic desk chair like he was royalty, rather than the mid-level bureaucratic puppet she knew he was.

“Mr. Saunders—if that was really his name—steepled his fingers over a protruding belly that would have put Kris Kringle to shame and adopted a benevolent master-of-the-universe expression that invited Amelia to cooperate and comply.

All it did was make her wish she had a blunt instrument handy. Continue reading

Elizabeth: From To Do to Done

After weeks of sheltering-at-home (84 days, but who’s counting), working remotely has taken on a relatively normal work-like feel.  Although I don’t have a broad expanse of industrial desk to spread my work things out on, an ergonomically adjustable chair to sit in, or a lakeside view to gaze out upon, I have the basic necessities:  a computer, a box of files and reference books, a ledger-sized calendar, and on-demand access to a kitchen with all the coffee I can drink (which is a lot).

The calendar spent the first few weeks . .  okay, months . . . in the box with the files and reference books, but when I started losing track of days and booting up the work computer on weekends, I decided it was time to pull out the calendar and put it back to use.

Around the same time, I started rummaging around in the box of files and reference books and pulled out a file folder that had all of the random scraps of paper, notes, and post-its that I had packed up from my desk before leaving back in early March, along with pages from notebooks that (theoretically) had something on them that I either needed to do or to remember.

I figured I should do something with those too.  The shredder was my first thought, but it was full. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Story Nugget – “Wasn’t Expecting That”

As I mentioned in last week’s post, follow-through is my touch phrase for the year.  Thus far it hasn’t resulted in anything earth shattering (probably a good thing), but there have been a consistent string of small victories.

For today, follow-through means (a few days late) actually giving this past Friday’s random words and story prompt a try.  On Friday, Kay left me wondering just what the job requirements might be for a “International Cupcake Assassin” in her fun entry The Apprenticeship Program and on Sunday Jilly put her spin own on things with Claws and Effect – both tough acts to follow.

Although my goal was only to successfully complete the writing sprint, I hope I’ve managed to provide a bit of entertainment too.

So, without further ado, here is my short story based on the prompts from Friday writing sprints, in which the main character makes an unfortunate discovery, and including the words collar, gum, confidence, assassination, flawless, pill, cardio, dart, strange, tiny, balance, coat, hollow, bayonet, affair and guidebook.

# # #

Wasn’t Expecting That

Evelyn “Eeyore” Edwards climbed narrow wooden staircase, turned the ornate metal key in the equally ornate old metal lock of the attic door, and felt her confidence falter as she caught her first glimpse of just what awaited her ahead. 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.

# # #

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

Elizabeth: There’s No Comparison

ComparisonQuote_Blog2

I came across this old post the other day and thought it was both a timely reminder and a message worth re-sharing.

It’s easy to fall into the comparison trap. I’ll be heading off to RWA nationals soon and, although I’ll undoubtedly come back with a lot of useful information and a renewed commitment to my writing, it’s very likely that I’ll also come back with thoughts of “I’ll never write as many books as Author X” and “I’m not nearly as far along in my writing career as Author Y.”   It doesn’t help when I see notes from ghost-writer friends about their 10,000 word days or how they drafted out a book in a week.  Though I intellectually know better, and it tends to take the shine off my own progress, it is regrettably easy to do.

“Comparison is the thief of joy” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

Continue reading

Elizabeth: Back to Basics – Starting a “New” Story

Stories Yet To Be WrittenA few weeks ago I mentioned that I was trying to decide wether to keep plugging away on the current manuscripts I have in process or to call it a day and get on with my (writing) life.

The part of me that felt I was trapped in revision paralysis was all for “let’s build a bonfire / I’ll get the matches.”  The part of me that never stopped reading a book partway through (until Madame Bovary), was more “quitter, quitter, quitter.”

A conundrum, indeed.

Fortunately, I think I’ve come up with a solution that pleases no one combines the two options.  I’m taking one of my three manuscripts and starting it all over from scratch.

Sounds like fun, right?  No?  Well, it was Jilly’s idea. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Happy Friday!  Hope you’ve had a good week and, if you were in one of the areas with earthquakes, high winds, lashing rain, blizzard conditions, or just politics-as-usual, that you have survived unscathed.

It has been a hectic week at the Day Job, so I’m looking forward to some downtime and dinner with friends this weekend.  If you’re looking for something a little more exciting, then you’re in luck.  Saturday marks the 3rd Annual Women’s March.  The main march will be in Washington, D.C., but there are satellite events scheduled across the globe, including one just blocks from my office.  If you’re interested in attending, check here to see if there will be a march near you.

Not in the mood for marching this weekend?  Well, Saturday is National Popcorn Day, so maybe you can celebrate by heading off to the movies with a big bucket of buttery deliciousness.

I’ll be here curled up on the couch with a cozy blanket, a mug of coffee, and a lazy cat, alternating between reading the latest Louise Penny book I’m in the midst of, and doing some writing of my own.  I’ve got a story with a sagging-middle that needs some work, but before I tackle that I think I’ll try and jump-start my creativity by giving today’s “what-if” and random words a try.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

How has your week been going so far?  More bright days than dark, or are you living under the cloud of our country’s current game of chicken?  Hopefully it’s the former, not the later.

Things have been going pretty well here at the Writing Castle.  The vestiges of Christmas are still hanging on, but the tree’s days are definitely numbered, no matter how much I enjoy coming home to the sparkly lights.

The other thing I’ve been enjoying is, unexpectedly, getting a fair number of words on the page.  Obviously my Girls in the Basement are fickle – as soon as I told them, don’t worry, take a break, we’re going to focus on fun for a while – they started throwing up thoughts and plans for my Cassie & Nicolas manuscript that has been sitting on the desk, neglected and gathering virtual dust.

Not that I’m complaining.

Though “fun” is still front and center on my radar, I’m going to give the Girls their heads and let them play around with today’s “what-if” after work.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Welcome to the our first Writing Sprints of the year.  Hope you are all well rested, refreshed, and ready to put your creativity to good use.

I’ve been reading lots of mysteries lately.  For the investigators in the stories, it’s a case of asking, “and then what happened,” over and over again to reach the truth.  From the writing perspective, the start of a new story is more often a case of, “what would happen if?”

  • What would happen if someone down on their luck suddenly won the lottery?  (I happened to someone in real-life just recently).
  • What would happen if a close-knit community suffered a devastating fire? (This is a real-life what-if, culled from the headlines.)
  • What would happen if “the detective investigating a crime fell in love with the suspect?” (This happens in my current contemporary mystery).

This year, our story prompts are going to focus on “what-if” scenarios, and we’re going to see what happens from there.  I’ve got lots of story ideas floating around in my head – either left there by Santa or fueled by all of the holiday treats I may or may not have consumed.  Regardless of where they came from, I’m going to try to put them to good use by giving today’s story prompt a try as soon as I get home from work.

Care to join me? Continue reading