Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Happy First Friday in August, the approximate midpoint of summer in the Northern Hemisphere and of winter in the Southern Hemisphere.  It’s also International Beer Day and National Raspberries and Cream Day.

Take your pick.

Here in the land of Covid, it’s one in a long string of “Put on Your Mask” and “Keep Your Distance” days.  Fortunately, all is well in my little stay-at-home bubble.  The weather is neither too hot nor too cold, the flowers are blooming, the wind has stopped trying to re-arrange my patio furniture, and the crickets are in the midst of their nightly musical performance.  Plus, I made it almost all day without watching the news – crucial for a sense of well-being.

My sourdough starter is ready and waiting for my latest attempt at making a loaf a bread that does not need power-tools to cut through.  While I wait for the dough to rest or rise or whatever it does while my back is turned, I plan to give today’s writing prompt and random words at shot.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Happy “last Friday in July” or, as I think of it, Day 132 of Shelter-In-Place.

It’s all how you look at it.

Today marked my first attempt to convert the sourdough starter that I have been carefully tending (Batch #2) into actual bread.

I don’t think I’ll be giving the Boudin Sourdough Bread Company a run for their money any time soon, and I may never clean up all the flour in the kitchen, but it went better than it could have.  At least there were no fire extinguishers involved.  Always a good thing when baking (don’t get me started on the sticky-bun-caramel-sauce-on-the-heating-element incident).

On the plus side, today’s end result looked roughly like a round of sourdough bread and tasted pretty good.  On the not-so-plus side, I practically needed a chainsaw to cut through the crust.  I settled for splitting the loaf in half like a wayward coconut and scooping out the softer insides.  I guess you could say my sourdough bread, like my current novel, remains a work-in-progress.

I’ll give it a few days and then try again.  By then my kitchen scale will have arrived so I’ll have a better chance of putting in the right amount of each ingredient in my batter.  I may have cleaned up all of the flour from the kitchen counters by then too.

In the meantime, I’m going to step away from the kitchen and give today’s writing prompt and random words at shot.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Here we are again at the end of another week.  Can you believe it’s almost August?  I can’t.   Although, to be fair, it feels like this year has already been infinitely long.

I’m on day two of a five-day break from work.  It feels a little odd having time off in the midst of a pandemic with unnecessary travel curtailed and so many places still closed, but we were all strongly encouraged to take some time away from work this month, so I’m doing my best.

One of my coworkers packed up the family and headed off to the woods for some socially-distant camping, but I think I’ll pass on that.  Perhaps I’ll take a day-trip to a local (empty) beach with my camera in tow.  So far my time off work has included a lot of reading and a lot of napping, with a trip to the grocery store for some necessities.

Not particularly exciting, but it is nice to have a break from conference calls and Zoom meetings.

I have a list of things I was planning to do during my time off but so far it is looking fairly unlikely that much progress will be made there.  On the plus side, I’ve already done plenty of reading and napping, so I think I’ll consider that a win.

Regardless of whatever else I do or don’t do, I’m definitely going to give today’s writing prompt and random words at shot.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Happy Friday!

I don’t know about where you are, but here the weather can’t seem to decide which season we are in.  Yesterday was cold, windy, and overcast,  today is due to be hot and clear, and who knows what tomorrow will hold.

This has been a long busy week at the day job, with lots and lots of meetings.  I think I’ve perfected my ability to attend multiple meetings at the same time–one on the computer and one on the phone.  Not a good long term solution, but sometimes, needs must.  Thank goodness for the mute button.

I’m certainly glad the week is wrapping up and I will be able to give both the phone and computer a break.  Before I turn everything off, I’m going to give today’s writing prompt and random words at shot.

Care to join me? Continue reading

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? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Welcome to the end of another week in what feels like the longest Twilight Zone episode ever.

Apparently whoever is authoring this episode thought that we were getting complacent and the stakes needed to be upped a bit.  As if those earlier murder hornets weren’t enough.  Now we have skyrocketing infections plus a new strain of H1N1 on the horizon.  A perfect time for my dentist appointment on Monday.

Nothing but good times ahead.

For now, we’re kicking off a holiday weekend here–celebrating our breakup with Mother England.  I’m sure everyone will wear their masks, wash their hands, and observe appropriate social distancing as the celebrate.

Oh, who am I kidding.

Well, I at least will do all three as I continue to shelter-in-place here in the Writing Castle, which now has a (mostly) working sprinkler system but is still lacking a repaired retaining wall.

To take my mind off reality and give myself something to do other than worry that one of the idiots shooting off illegal fireworks will set my hillside on fire, I think I’ll give today’s writing prompt and random words at shot.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Summer already?  How did that happen?

I don’t know about you, but time just seems to be slipping away for me.  Fortunately, despite my tenuous grasp on time, progress has been made on a few fronts this week.

I finally found someone to help repair my ailing sprinkler system.  It’s still not fully functional, but that broken valve that resulted in a water-gusher has been taken care of.  Even better, my neighbor finally hired someone to replace the retaining wall and fence that separates our yards so now his yard will stop sliding into mine and privacy has been restored.  All I had to do was write a check for my half.

Better yet, I was able to hire that same repairman to fix a small retaining wall on the other side of my property and to replace some decaying house-trim.  By this time next week, that will mean several of the major problems that had been on the “must take care of these” list for quite some time will finally be taken care of.  Next up: time to replace the disintegrating back deck.  Guess that means I’ll be taking a socially distant trip to the lumberyard this weekend to place an order for the necessary supplies.  Good times!

For now, however, I’m going to enjoy my first day off work in quite some time.  I’ll be spending at least part of the day at an online writing workshop.  It’s a small $25 test-drive to see just how well a virtual writing workshop can work, before I register for the longer conference that I mentioned a while back.  I’m sure the workshop will leave me bursting with creativity and ready to attack today’s writing prompt and random words.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Can you believe that 2020 is almost half over already?  I can hardly believe that another week is over already.  I guess it’s a good thing that I’m at home instead of being out and about.  The stores are probably already stocking up on Halloween costumes and candy, and nobody wants to see that.

My house has apparently gotten tired of having me around and seems to be plotting against me.  First it was the dishwasher.  Then the sprinkler system.  The refrigerator has been making an odd moaning noise that either means one of the belts is wearing out or I accidentally closed a ghost in there with the frozen foods.  Today the automatic garage door decided to get into the act, making it’s own odd noise that, if memory serves me correctly, means that the main spring is about to go at any minute.  Or maybe the garage was just annoyed that I left the house to buy groceries today.  Hard to tell.

I fixed the dishwasher–thanks to the help of a couple of YouTube videos–and I think I’ve finally found someone to come and take care of the multiple issues with the sprinkler system.  Now I just need to hear back from the garage door maintenance folks and all (except my bank account) should be on the road to recovery.  I’m ignoring the refrigerator noise for now and keeping my fingers crossed.

To take my mind of my plotting house, I think I’ll make a nice root beer float (wouldn’t want that ice cream to go to waste if the refrigerator goes out) and give today’s writing prompt and random words a try after work today.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Jilly: Ryder

I’ve been reading a lot lately and I’ve never been so grateful for the ability to escape reality for a while in favor of a world where you know the toughest challenges will be overcome and the good guys will prevail.

I’ve read new releases by authors whose work I like a lot, well reviewed first-in-series by new-to-me authors, and genre classics of yesteryear, but the thing I’m most enjoying right now is a new urban fantasy serial from the husband-and-wife team who write as Ilona Andrews.

I posted here a couple of months ago about their Innkeeper Chronicles “plague sale” (99 cents for the first three books; all proceeds, net of their literary agency’s costs, to be donated to the CDP Covid-19 Response Fund). The new serial is even cheaper. It will eventually be edited and self-published, but for now it’s free to read on the authors’ blog.

The story has an official title, Blood Heir, but the working title is Ryder. It’s urban fantasy, in the Kate Daniels universe, and the story takes place eight years after the end of the bestselling KD series. The protagonist is Julie, Kate’s adopted daughter, who’s returning to Atlanta in secret with a new face, a new name (Aurelia Ryder), even a new scent. Her mission is to save Kate from a terrible, prophesied, but currently unrevealed, threat. When the first chapter was posted, the authors’ plan was to offer a snippet as a treat for KD fans. The response they received persuaded them to keep going, and now, twelve chapters later, they’ve confirmed that Blood Heir/Ryder will become a book, likely to be self-published in the first quarter of 2021. That news made me so happy!

They’re uploading each chapter as they write, more or less once a week. It’s classic Ilona Andrews—engaging characters, strong community, high stakes, fantastic worldbuilding, and snappy dialogue. I’m loving it so much. Every new chapter is a treat. If you like the sound of this, and you’re not already following along, check out the story so far here.

Have you read anything good lately? It’s a long time between Ryder installments. Any and all recommendations would be most gratefully received.

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Good heavens, I almost forgot it was Friday.

In my defense, I’ve been busily reading, working my way through the Ngaio Marsh mysteries (staring Inspector Roderick Alleyn).  One finally made its way to the top of my ToBeRead pile last week and once I finished it I dug around and found two more volumes further down the stack waiting to be read.   After that, it was (virtually) off to the local library for the eBook versions they had available.

Set in England and New Zealand in the 1940s, the stories are fairly short and the equivalent of fictional popcorn:  It’s hard to stop after just one.  I think I’m on about book sixteen and there look to be at least a dozen more to go.  I may lose interest before long, but for now they are distracting and entertaining.  Just what I’ve needed.

Of course there are many other things I should be doing, like writing or finishing an assignment due in about 24-hours for a class that I am taking, but for now I’m reading.

Once I’ve finished this current story (and maybe my homework), I’ll be giving today’s writing prompt and random words a try.

Care to join me? Continue reading