Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprint

Happy “National TV Dinner Day” (if you’re reading this on September 10th) or maybe just Happy Friday.

I remember eating Swanson TV Dinners as a kid, mostly their pot pies, since those had the best low-cost to fill-you-up ratio.  Looking back, they were probably loaded with calories and salt, but at the time they were a bit of a treat.

It’s also “National Swap Ideas Day”, which sounds a bit more appropriate for a writing blog.

National Swap Ideas Day, which is observed annually on September 10th, encourages us to share a creative or helpful idea with someone and trade them for their thoughts in return.  This observance urges sharing concepts and sparking ideas. Many of us are passionate about our careers, hobbies, or special projects. However, sometimes, we require the additional magic that happens when a community of people joins forces to bring a plan to fruition.

Sounds like a good excuse to call or visit a friend and “swap ideas” over some snacks and a nice refreshing beverage.

I’ll be at work all day, so not much opportunity for idea swapping, but maybe something will turn up unexpectedly.  Otherwise, once I finish with work, I’ll be out in the backyard disassembling the portion of my deck that seems to be attempting to disassemble itself. Or maybe I’ll just skip that, pour a glass of fresh-made lemonade (I’ve perfected my recipe), and give today’s writing prompt and random words a try.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprint

If you’re reading this on Friday (September 3rd) then happy “National Welsh Rarebit Day”.  Growing up, I always read that as “Welsh Rabbit”, though I wasn’t too far off base.

On September 3rd, National Welsh Rarebit Day whips up a tasty and satisfying snack. What is a rarebit? The cheesy toast was originally called Rabbit in a tongue-in-cheek way in the Welsh language because there is no rabbit in the meal. Similar to mock turtle soup having no turtle in it, Welsh rarebit does not contain rabbit. Instead, this dish is made with toast that has hot cheese poured over it. Over time, the dish became known as Welsh Rarebit – a nod to the inside joke.

If you’re not a fan of bread and cheese–crazy as that may be–you could do a good turn for someone in need and celebrate “National Food Bank Day” instead.  Whichever you choose to do, someone will get a meal out of it.

Unless I get distracted by something bright and shiny, I’ll be spending at least part of my day building a rolling garden cart for the yard so that I have a place to store flower pots, garden tools, and assorted other gardening stuff.  I’m re-purposing a bunch of random wood and some wheels from my dad’s old workshop–fingers crossed that it all works out for the best and no injuries ensue.

There’s always a first time.

Assuming I still have all ten-fingers in prime working condition after my building project, I’ll be pouring a glass of fresh-made lemonade (I’m still working on perfecting my recipe) and giving today’s writing prompt and random words a try.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprint

Happy Last Friday in August!  Hard to believe, isn’t it?  I think of summer as 4just beginning, but the back-to-school supplies and Halloween costumes in the local store paint a different picture.

I’m writing this post on Thursday evening in the remaining hours of “National Dog Day”–one of my favorite day.  My Facebook feed has been full of pictures of dogs, including a few of my own from years past, which provides a welcome distraction from the negative events of the day.

If you’re reading this on Friday (August 27th), then it’s ‘National Just Because Day”, which kind of sounds like a way of saying “we couldn’t think of anything specific to celebrate on this day.”  

“In the late 1950s, Joseph J. Goodwin of Los Gatos, California created Just Because Day. It began as a family holiday and grew into an annual celebration across the United States. National Just Because Day offers up an opportunity to do stuff…just because.  Feel free to celebrate this day any way you choose.  Just because!”

Feel free to interpret the day however you see fit; I’ll probably still be scrolling through dog pictures.

I’ll actually be spending part of my day going to my physical office.  Though we’re continuing to work remotely, there are occasionally some things that I need from the office that I didn’t think to bring home 18 months ago.  I’m hoping my trip will be brief and that I’ll be able to time it so that I can get there and home before the Friday afternoon traffic starts to pile up.

Once I’ve wrapped things up in the office, successfully made it home, and possibly even enjoyed a refreshing adult beverage, I plan to give today’s writing prompt and random words a try.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprint

The days are just flying by!

If you’re reading this on Friday (August 20th), then today is “Lemonade Day”–a tasty observance, just perfect for sunny summer days.  My lemon tree in the backyard is flourishing, with lemons the size of grapefruits, so Lemonade Day is definitely something I’ll have no trouble celebrating.  It’s also “National Bacon Lover’s Day”, so perhaps I’ll pair a glass of lemonade with a nice Bacon-Lettuce-Tomato sandwich and make a double celebration out of it.

Suddenly I’m looking forward to the day with much more enthusiasm than usual.

This is a regular working Friday for me because I forgot to calendar myself out of the office this week.  That’s probably all for the best since I have edits to make on the article I’ve written for the Day Job and they need to be done by Monday to allow time for the necessary bureaucratic review.  Once that is finalized I have a new blooming vine from the local garden center that needs planting and coaxing around a trellis before it gives up on me and starts taking things into its own hands . . . I mean tendrils.  

Somewhere along the line, I plan to take a break, grab a frosty glass of lemonade and give today’s writing prompt and random words a try.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprint

Happy Friday! 

I hope you enjoyed the Eight Ladies Serial story that we wrapped up on Monday.  It was fun to watch the story develop day after day and great to see how much creativity we were able to pull out of a set of random words for each installment.

Now that those characters are off living their best lives, it’s time for the rest of us to get back to writing.  And what better way than with a writing prompt and a whole new set of random words.

I’ve been doing a lot of writing this week, though not of the fictional kind.  I’m writing an article for my day job, which may not have a hero and heroine battling through conflicts and obstacles, but it has certainly required quite a bit of creativity and storytelling skills.

I think happily-ever-afters are more my style.

If you’re reading this on Friday (August 13th), then today is “International Lefthanders Day”–an observance I am particularly fond of, being of the lefthanded persuasion.  I remember how thrilled I was as a kid when I got my first pair of left-handed scissors and found an entire store just dedicated to left-handed stuff. Amazing!

Wonder what it’s like to see the world from a “left-handed” point of view? On International Lefthanders Day, August 13, you get to explore that world for a day. Did you know Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were all left-handed?  Rock out with Paul McCartney or Jimi Hendrix, the world’s greatest left-handed guitarist.  (Stevie Ray Vaughan, born right-handed, learned to play a left-handed guitar like his hero, Hendrix). There’s also Oprah Winfrey,  Julia Roberts and Lady Gaga, left-handers all.  In baseball, there were the legendary “southpaws,  Babe Ruth and Sandy Koufax.  International Lefthanders Day 2021 will be observed on the 13th of August to celebrate the differences and distinctiveness of left handed individuals.

Once I finish my work article and perhaps take a break to enjoy a refreshing adult beverage, I plan to take a shot at today’s writing prompt and random words.

Care to join me? Continue reading

An Eight Lady Serial–The Laird’s Legacy – Part 8

After Jilly’s recent story installment, I thought that perhaps the ongoing saga of Jordy MacHugh, a Canadian music teacher who inherits a derelict Scottish estate by the sea and decides to build an opera house, had run its course.  With a Blessing Stone, a pair of abandoned twins, Jenny from Kansas, and a ghostly visitor it seemed things might just have gone as far as they were going to go.

But then Kay suggested two alternative story segments  and I got to thinking about a television show that was popular when I was a kid – Dallas – that had an entire season of episodes and then when the next season started basically said, “just kidding; that never happened.”

I was, for lack of a better word, inspired.  So, without further ado, here is a new story installment.  In keeping with the Friday writing sprint challenge, it includes the words flowers, fumbling, sweet, dazzling, bribery, charming, mirror, calculation, truth, forgiven, identity, growl, nightmare, freckled, alarm and preserve.

What a Dream!

“Tea is ready,” Jenny heard Jordy call.  His voice held a touch of impatience, as if that wasn’t the first time he’d called.

She raised herself to a sitting position on the mossy bank edging the river that wended through the back garden, brushing grass and a few stray flower petals from her skirt.  Her brain felt fuzzy and slow as if she’d had one too many down at the Pointing Dog.

“Coming,” she called out as she got to her feet and made her way toward the cottage.  The sunlight reflecting off the surface of the river was dazzling, and the scent of the blooming flowers was sweet, but Jenny was oblivious to both.

She hadn’t planned to fall asleep when she sat down on the river-bank; she just wanted to rest her eyes for moment.  She couldn’t remember the last time she’d had a full night’s sleep, especially since the twins started teething.  Worrying about things with Jordy hadn’t helped either.

She was exhausted. Continue reading

An Eight Lady Serial–The Laird’s Legacy – Part 7

Here’s the seventh episode in the saga of Jordy MacHugh, a Canadian music teacher who inherits a derelict Scottish estate by the sea and decides to build an opera house.

So far, Jordy has acquired twin baby girls of unknown parentage and a housemate, Jenny from Kansas. She arrived in the Highlands as a tourist and has stayed to help Jordy look after the girls. She’s in deep waters now, even if she did reject Jordy’s chivalrous offer of marriage. Then, a mysterious woman appears on Jordy and Jenny’s doorstep. She claims to be the girls’ mother, but she has no documentation except a blurry old photograph. I was hoping Kay might tell us more about her, but instead she asked Who Is Alanis McLeish?

Today Jilly attempts to answer that question.

In keeping with the Friday writing sprint challenge, this installment includes a character who gets caught in a lie, and the words flowers, fumbling, sweet, dazzling, bribery, charming, mirror, calculation, truth, forgiven, identity, growl, nightmare, freckled, alarm and preserve.

The story so far…

“Those girls are mine, I tell you.” The young woman’s face crumpled. “I know what you must think. I meant to—but I can’t look myself in the mirror anymore. I can’t face what I did. Or forgive myself.”

Grave Concerns

The twins are mine. Jordy bit back the words. The woman—Alanis—seemed distressed, and desperate. She was almost certainly in need of professional help, but there was no calculation in her manner. She didn’t strike him as a liar.

He examined the crumpled, blurred, black-and-white photograph she’d given him. Flimsy, freckled with mildew, worn from frequent handling. The image was oddly familiar. He’d seen it before, or something very like it. Where?

He knew that rocking chair. Hell, he’d sat in it, wondering if it was sturdy enough to take his weight. It was, like everything in the Pointing Dog, charming but built to last.

“Don’t go anywhere.” He handed the photograph back to Alanis.

“Hold the fort, love,” he said to Jenny. “I have to make a phone call.”

He ducked into the cottage and closed the door behind him. Grabbed the phone and dialed the Pointing Dog. “Maeve?” He didn’t waste any time on social niceties. “Do you know anything about a woman called Alanis McLeish?”

The sharp intake of breath on the other end of the line told him he was on to something.

“Tell me what you know. The truth, please, however difficult or improbable.” Continue reading

An Eight Lady Serial–The Laird’s Legacy – Part 5

Welcome to another installment of our Eight Lady Serial, that started when Jilly wrote a short story about Jordy MacHugh, a Canadian music teacher who inherits a derelict estate in the Scottish Highlands and decides to build an outdoor opera house by the sea.  In yesterday’s installment, Jilly added some much-needed conflict to the story.

As I re-read the entire saga, I decided I wasn’t quite ready to leave Jordy and Jenny to their own devices, though they may not appreciate the direction of today’s installment.

Without further ado, read on to find out what happens next. Using the prompts from Friday’s writing sprint – character(s) face a challenge – and including (most of) the random words: equipment, belly, aimless, baffling, noise, bloke, fuzzy, clever, beekeeper, footwork, glass, dream, corduroy, setup, lump and artist.

The Unexpected

By unspoken agreement, Jenny and Jordy busied themselves with separate pursuits when they returned to their temporary cottage after their aborted picnic along the cliffs.

While nondescript from the front, the area behind the cottage was a wild tangle of riotous blooms and clinging vines.  Paths that seemed to be in danger of being swallowed up by the creeping foliage wended around and about the area and led to an overgrown folly in the back barely visible through the trees from mere paces away.

Jenny wandered the paths aimlessly, deaf to the noise of the bumbling bees, drunk on the abundant nectar and buzzing happily. Continue reading

An Eight Lady Serial–The Laird’s Legacy – Part 4

The MacHugh saga continues :-).

For those who are just joining us, we’re in the midst of a serial story that started with Jilly’s short story about Jordy MacHugh, the Canadian music teacher who inherited a derelict estate in the Scottish Highlands and decided to build an outdoor opera house by the sea.

Elizabeth continued the story and raised the stakes by introducing Jenny, a tourist from Kansas, who discovered twin babies in a basket, courtesy of the mysterious MacHugh Blessing Stone.

Maeve, the local seer, pronounced Jordy, Jenny and the twins a family, but as Jenny observed via Kay’s installment, the whole setup screamed Trouble with a capital T.

Read on to find out what happens next. Using the prompts from Friday’s writing sprint, our character(s) face a challenge, and including the words equipment, belly, aimless, baffling, noise, bloke, fuzzy, clever, beekeeper, footwork, glass, dream, corduroy, setup, lump and artist.

Challenge Accepted

They couldn’t go on this way. Somebody had to make this village of dreamers face reality, and apparently that someone was Jenny.

Sunday service was over, and she emerged from the small stone kirk into the sunlit, postage-stamp sized churchyard. She settled the oversized wicker basket at her feet and chatted politely with the villagers, all twenty of them. They were kind and friendly, but their warm welcome wasn’t for Jenny herself. Not really. Her true value to them was as companion-dash-housemate to the new laird, Jordy MacHugh, and as carer for his adopted twin daughters. Continue reading

An Eight Lady Serial–The Laird’s Legacy – Part 1

A few years back, one of our Friday writing prompts inspired Jilly to write a short story, which various Eight Ladies added to over a period of several weeks.  It was a great deal of fun to take a story in progress and, using a new set of random words, keep moving the action forward.  At one point we realized we had no conflict, and at another we seemed to have written ourselves into a corner, but creativity prevailed and we managed to reach a satisfying conclusion.

This week we’re revisiting the story–posting a segment every day–and hope you will enjoy watching it unfold again or for the first time.

So, without further ado, here is where it all started:  a Highland-based short story using  a character who found something unexpected, incorporating the words basket, symbol, siren, bottle, freewill, baby, future, confusion, absurdly, little, grabbing, aroma, banana, vision, identical and robbery.

Enjoy!

The Laird’s Legacy

“As you can see, we’re jam-packed…” Moira Douglas gestured to the dining room behind her. The But & Ben was rarely full in high summer, let alone in early October, but tonight every family in the village was there, trying to look casual and hoping Moira’s home cooking and smooth talking would persuade the visiting Canadian where Charlie the Solicitor Advocate’s carefully worded suggestions had failed.

Jordy MacHugh smiled politely. He had to duck his head to get through the doorway but now he stood tall, blocking the entrance. It was an assertive sort of politeness, worthy of his long-dead ancestors, masters of cattle raiding and border robbery. “The Pointing Dog had a kitchen fire. They had to close for the evening, so they sent me over here. They promised you’d feed me.”

Of course they did. There was a lot of him to feed, and while he’d reportedly made fast work of a full Highland breakfast complete with porridge and black pudding, that was eight hours ago. Since then Charlie had walked the incomer all the way round the boundaries of the McHugh property with little more to fuel them than a packet of oatcakes and a flask of coffee.

Right on cue, Jordy’s stomach rumbled. “I’m starving hungry, and it’s a twenty-mile drive to the next village. Can you please squeeze me in somehow?” Continue reading