It’s a new month, and that means it’s time for a new writing prompt!
If you’re looking for something to write about, look no further:
“As a young girl, she learned how to juggle fruit: apples, oranges, sometimes pears. There was little risk, little drama, and people smiled politely and then moved on. But they started paying attention when she started juggling…”
Complete the Story
This month is all about editing for me. I am working through my new novel before I start deep editing. I’ve finished my first round of edits, and now it’s time for the real work. If you’ve ever edited something as lengthy as a novel, you know what I’m talking about. It’s an even harder process when you edit yourself. I always have someone else read my work too, but before it goes to them, I go through it about four times. It takes months. And here we go…..
My plan is to start querying in mid-October, maybe November. Wish me luck.
The boy woke up before dawn. The horses were restless. Something wasn’t right. He rose and tiptoed quietly down the hall, careful not to wake his mother. She was exhausted after last night’s attacks. With the help of their neighbors, his mother had fended off the vamp-wolves again. Their attacks had been increasing lately, and his mother was up many nights protecting their homestead.
He paused outside her door and waited until he heard her deep snores. He let out a silent sigh of relief and walked down the hall. He slowed only as he descended the stairs. They didn’t creak, but he didn’t want to run down them stomping either.
Morning light was spilling into the living room. He grabbed a cookie on his way out the kitchen door. He didn’t have to think. This was his morning routine. He tended the horses first. They had four of them. One mare and three of her offspring. He gave them fresh water and hay. He filled their feed bins.
When he opened the fourth stall to lay down fresh hay, he saw the blood. It was everywhere. The horses must have smelled it too. This, at least, explained their restlessness. He’d just walked past them out in their pasture. They’d been standing right next to the fence waiting for him. He paused and had to think if he’d sensed anything off about any of them.
He’d been so used to going through his morning without thinking about it that he didn’t trust himself. He walked back out to where the horses were munching away. Nothing appeared amiss.
He shrugged. He’d clean the stall and ask his mother about it later. Maybe she knew where the blood came from.
After the horses, it was time for his favorite chores—tending the flying bison. Their family farm had been raising blimpies for generations. The creatures were docile and gentle despite their size. Every once in a while, he would sneak atop one and ride it. His mother said it was disrespectful. They were not horses.
He loved them. They were about the size of a small hover car when full grown. Their demeanor was friendly like a dog’s. And they weren’t scared of humans. Most people owned one or two, but only certain families knew the secret to breeding them. Their wooly coats made the warmest and softest textiles.
As he loaded the hover cart with everything he would need, he couldn’t help but grin. This season they’d had more younglings than any year he could remember. He loved the younglings. They were so full of joy.
His favorite thing to do was to go out into the field with mints in his pockets. He would give one youngling a mint, and it would start grunting at him. The other younglings would hear the one and come over to see what the commotion was.
Before long, he would be surrounded by them all grunting at him. They were fluffy and round and would bump into one another. And since they didn’t have good control over their bodies yet, they would float off a bit. It was like being in the center of bumper cars bouncing into one another over and over again.
It was easily the cutest thing they did. The adult blimpies would look on without venturing closer. He made sure to always save at least one mint for the elder blimpie. He was their oldest, and his mom didn’t even know his age. She told him that when she was a girl, the elder had been ancient even then.
As he approached the field, something strange caught his eye. The blimpies were pressed up against the door all huddled together. They normally floated about seemingly at random within the dome enclosure.
He searched around by didn’t see any reason for their alarm. His first thought was that he should go wake up his mom, but then he felt ashamed. She needed to sleep. He could handle this.
He restarted the hover cart and drove toward the door. The blimpies parted and let the door swing in and surrounded his cart as he settled it next to their feeders.
Their collective grunts and snorts bombarded his ears. He pushed his way through. The blimpies kept near the cart.
He looked once again at the blimpies all huddled together and turned to search the dome. He didn’t see anything immediately. He heard something in a moment when the herd quieted.
He didn’t know what it was, and he needed the herd to still before he could listen longer. He fed them and despite their nervousness, they ate and calmed down.
As he placed the now empty feeding tubs on the cart, the sound came through clearer.
It sounded like a whimper from a dog. That didn’t make any sense. They didn’t have any dogs on their ranch. Could a wild dog have wandered into the dome? That also seemed unlikely. The dome only had a few doors, and you needed their programed farm equipment to open it. Nothing could just wander into it.
Could there be a breach in the dome? He hoped not. It was expensive to fix the dome and his mom would be furious.
He left the cart and stepped towards the sound. He moved toward one of the boulders in the field. He climbed on top. He scanned the pasture hoping to find the source of the sound and the blimpies’ anxiety.
He heard it and saw it at the same time. The elder blimpie was standing next to something bloodied and whining on the ground.
He approached cautiously and patted the elder as he walked alongside him.
The crying animal was a vamp-wolf. It had been stomped and from the looks of the elder’s front hooves, he’d done the stomping. He’d never heard of a blimpie killing another creature.
Even though that fact would shock his mother, because there was no way he could keep this from her, the more troubling part was that a vamp-wolf was in the dome. There had to be a breach somewhere.
In addition to editing my novel, I am brainstorming for this year’s NANOWRIMO. At this point in the year, I try to gather and read through any unused ideas that I have stashed away. I keep them all in a notebook. Occasionally, I pull it out and write down more, or if I have thoughts about an idea already in the notebook, I add to it.
I haven’t decided yet what I’m going to work on in November, but I’m thinking about branching out and trying something other than fantasy writing. To date, I’ve written four novels, all of which are middle grade fantasy. It’s still what I enjoy writing the most, and it’s what I want to try to publish more of.
However, sometimes it’s nice to work outside your comfort zone. I want to try something new. So…. I’m thinking of trying to write a mystery.
As a reader or writer, what are your favorite mystery writers? What types of scenarios do you like to read about? What do you think is over done in that genre? Or, do you love mystery so much that you will literally read anything by anyone?
I’m genuinely curious. I don’t read a lot of mystery, but every once in a while, I do pick one up. I enjoy them, but I only like a handful of writers. I don’t know why I find it so hard to like more mystery writers. And the even weirder thing is, I love, love, love crime shows. I watch any and all mystery shows I can.
What have you been reading? And of those, what would you recommend?
This is what I’ve read so far this year:
The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco
The Orphan Witch by Paige Crutcher
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
Batman: Three Jokers (comic)
The Haunted Bookstore 1 by Shinobumaru
Dreamcatcher by Stephen King
The Once and Future Witches by Alix Harrow
The Dreaming Volume 3 (comic)
Orlando by Virgina Woolf
Lumberjanes Volume 1 (comic)
Clive Barker’s Next Testament (comic)
Paper Girls Volume 1) (comic)
The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Paper Girls Volume 2 (comic)
Paper Girls Volume 3 (comic)
The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco
Paper Girls Volume 4 (comic)
Paper Girls Volume 5 (comic)
The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
The Ever Cruel Kingdom by Rin Chupeco
Locke and Key Volume 2 (comic)
Locke and Key Volume 3 (comic)
Locke and Key Volume 4 (comic)
Locke and Key Volume 5 (comic)
Locke and Key Volume 6 (comic)
The Death Cure by James Dashner
The Kill Order by James Dashner
The Fever Code by James Dashner
Redder Days by Sue Rainsford
Armageddon in Retrospect by Kurt Vonnegut
There is still a lot of year left, and I’ll be reading more but not many more. I’m currently editing my own novel, and I tend not to read as much when I’m doing that, simply because of time. And, then November is when I don’t have time to read practically anything because I usually participate in NANOWRIMO.
This year I’ve tried to finish reading a few series that I started ages ago, and I’ve been reading more comics than normal because I discovered that my local library has a pretty great comic selection.
For the novels I’ve read this year, there have been a couple of highlights. Basically, anything by Rin Chupeco. I wrote about this recently: see my previous post about her: Why I Love Rin Chupeco.
The other two books that I would highly, highly recommend are The Once and Future Witches by Alix Harrow and Redder Days by Sue Rainsford. They’re both great, and if you don’t want to know why I think so, stop reading now, otherwise… SPOILER ALERT.
The Once and Future Witches by Alix Harrow
This book is brilliant. I loved every word. It’s historical fiction that incorporates witch lore and women’s rights issues. The use of familiar nursery rhymes and fairy tales interwoven into the storyline is fantastic. It’s so clever. It’s about three sister witches fighting against an ancient evil as well as trying to be non-traditional women in a time when they weren’t allowed to.
Redder Days by Sue Rainsford
I couldn’t put this down. I read it in one sitting. If you haven’t read Sue Rainsford first book, Follow Me to Ground, go read it too. Both of her books are weird in the best possible way. Redder Days is about two children, twins, born in a commune that formed when the world was ending. However, the world didn’t really end, and these two children are brain washed. Every character in this book is a little crazy. This book falls into my favorite category of Literature — The Weird Tale. I can’t explain what it is, but you’ll know it when you read it. This book holds up that standard. Let me also say this, every author hopes they write at least one story as great as the two novels by Sue Rainsford. I will be reading whatever she writes in the future.
Anywho, enough rambling for today. Get out there and have a great day!
August is doing that thing, again… flying by! I don’t know what I’ve been doing this month, but it isn’t anything productive. I’m okay with it though. Sometimes it’s good to just be happy.
This month I’ve been roller skating twice! It’s so much fun. I love skating! But at my age, when I fall it hurts for days and days. Luckily, I only fell once, and I’m thinking of going again soon.
Anyhow, I haven’t been drafting much because it’s about time to start editing! I can’t believe I’m about to edit my fourth novel! It’s a great feeling, but every time I get to this point, the overwhelming amount of work still to do is shocking and renders me into long straits of procrastination. I find the best way to avoid editing is to not make eye contact with the draft.
In all seriousness though, if you are here for the prompt this month, it’s about time:
They’ve done all these studies about how twins remain connected, psychically, their whole lives. I haven’t seen Sally for twenty years, but sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with pain in my knee and I know it’s her pain, not mine. Or I’ll be taking a walk and I’ll feel her sadness permeate my being.
Without asking though, I know she still doesn’t want to see me. I can’t ask why she wakes up in pain so often, or why she feels sad all the time? She won’t let me help her.
Maybe I should have chosen my words more carefully. But I know I was right all those years ago. If I’d been wrong, I would be happier, and so would she. If I’d been wrong, she wouldn’t be in pain as often.
Twenty Years Ago…
Sally and I kept waving as our parents pulled away. I could see Mom wiping her eyes. It brought tears to mine too, and I knew Sally would be welling up too.
This was it! We were starting college. Our parents had been both happy and sad for us when we’d chosen a college three states away from home.
Sally and I were thrilled. No parents for the first time ever! It was going to be so epic!
The first semester flew by. Sally and I signed up for every activity we could reasonably fit into our schedules. We had so much to tell our parents over the holiday break. I swear we didn’t stop talking the whole three weeks.
Second semester was the same. Things were wonderful until Sally announced her big news.
“I’m going to join the summer abroad program,” she practically chirped while we were eating in the dining hall in mid-March.
“What?” I asked. I thought maybe this was one of those times when she was pulling a prank on me. Sometimes I didn’t get her sense of humor. She said that was because I didn’t have one.
“We’re going to Europe. We’re going to like ten countries in like eight weeks. It’s going to be the trip of a lifetime.” She dropped a pamphlet on my dinner tray.
The front cover literally said, “Ready for the best summer vacation EVER? Join the summer abroad program for the trip of a LIFETIME.” The words were surrounded by picture of co-eds sitting in cafes and riding trains.
“When you say ‘we,’ do you mean you and I?” I asked pointing back and forth between the two of us.
“Of course,” Sally answered.
I took a deep breath. I couldn’t believe this, but for the first time in our lives, we were on very different wave lengths. I wanted to go home. I was looking forward to spending days with Mom and Dad. I wanted to sleep in my own bed and enjoy my days relaxing until the fall semester started up again. I was wiped. This year had been a whirlwind. I was beyond tired.
“I don’t want to go,” I said. I didn’t look at Sally when I said it. I assumed that would be the end of it. She wouldn’t go without me.
There was a long uncomfortable silence. I felt something that wasn’t my own emotion. It was Sally—she was furious.
“I’m going.” She crossed her arms and glared at me.
I shrugged. I fully believed she would change her mind before summer.
By May, I realized I’d underestimated Sally. She was determined to prove me wrong. We didn’t even say goodbye when our parents dropped her at the airport.
In the weeks she was gone, I felt her ups and downs. I didn’t know what she was doing because she refused to speak to me. I knew she was on a rollercoaster of emotions though. I was just angry.
My parents said it was good for us to do things apart. We needed to become our own people, not just twins. As the weeks passed, I started to agree with them. My anger faded, but it coincided with anxiety that wasn’t my own.
Sally still wasn’t talking to me, but she was a bundle of nerves. I could feel it. I had no idea what was happening to her, but there were no longer moments of joy. She went from panic to anxious to sad and then the cycle started again.
What was happening to her? Why wasn’t she enjoying her trip anymore? I should have picked up the phone, but I knew she didn’t want to hear from me. She still wasn’t ready to talk.
At the end of her trip, she didn’t come home.
“What do you mean she isn’t coming home?” I asked Mom.
“She’s living with some friends near the campus now. They all went on the trip together. I think it sounds like she is having the time of her life.” There was a longing in my mom’s eyes.
I didn’t understand it until the next weekend when my parents had Sally come over for lunch.
Sally brought the reason she wasn’t coming home with her.
His name was Dean.
I knew as soon as I saw him that he was the reason she wasn’t happy. It was coming off her in waves. She was panicked. Every time she spoke around him, she would glance at him questioningly. She was making sure not to say anything he didn’t want her to say.
I was quiet throughout the meal. Dad took Dean on a walk around the backyard, showing off the new deck and in-ground pool.
As soon as the patio door slid shut, I asked Mom to give us a minute.
“You shouldn’t be with him.”
“What are you talking about?” Sally said, but she wouldn’t make eye contact with me. “You don’t even know him.”
I didn’t have to. I knew him because she did. To make my point, I kicked her shin really hard causing my own leg to hurt.
“You don’t know him.” She stood up from the table and went toward the patio door. “Leave me alone.”
(June 2022 short story of the month, yep, it’s finally done)
She told him to try again, and he did, and she couldn’t help but laugh.
“I told you I wasn’t a dancer,” he said, protesting.
“But you’re an athlete,” she said, “you ran circles around everyone in p.e.”
“Dancing and running are not the same,” he protested again. He bounced in the air and tried to flip. It didn’t work. He was strapped into a harness and was trying to learn to be graceful and move the contraption where he wanted it to go. It wasn’t working. He needed to master this. If he couldn’t master the basics of acrobatics, they wouldn’t let him train on the trapeze or on the high wire. He pushed off and tried once again to flip. He didn’t get even one rotation. He just moved across the room and bounced towards the wall. He growled as he dragged his feet slowing his movement.
She laughed again. “You can get this. You must be over thinking it.”
“Maybe we should take a break. Try again tomorrow,” he suggested.
She nodded. “I’ll wait for you outside. Let’s skip some rocks.” She spun around and made running leaps until she was out of the building.
He worked quickly to get out of the harness. He was beyond frustrated with training. He tossed the straps onto a pile of others. He took a deep breath. He needed to get this. He didn’t tell her what he and everyone else in the troupe knew—he was getting too old for his current acts. He needed to learn something that adults did. If he didn’t, then he would be relegated to being part of the crew that tore down and set up. He wouldn’t be part of the true circus people—the ones who performed. He grew up with them; he needed to be part of the big show. He didn’t just want to be a worker bee.
He’d never shown any talent for the graceful acts. He couldn’t dance, flip, or fly like the others. He was strong. He’d work with his uncle as a part of the strong man act. He was billed as “The World’s Strongest Boy.”
He was getting too old though, and his cousin had been performing most nights instead of him.
Skipping rocks usually calmed his nerves. It was hypnotic when you skipped one just right and it bounced in tiny little beats across the surface of the water.
He heard a large splash but didn’t look to see what it was. He just watched his rock skip, skip, skip.
There were odd ripples crossing the surface of the water. He ran as fast as he could. She was face down in the water. She wasn’t moving.
He picked her up in one swift motion and placed her gently on the shore. She wasn’t breathing. He didn’t know what to do. Should he move her? He didn’t know cpr.
He couldn’t sit there and do nothing. He picked her up again and ran. He went to the center of the camp. Someone would be in the mess hall. Someone was always cooking something.
“Help,” he yelled as he placed her on a picnic table.
Three women came out of the kitchen. They didn’t say anything but pushed him aside. They worked together pressing on her chest and taking turns to get her breathing again.
It felt like forever and an instant all at once. He watched them pump, pump, pump against her heart and felt every press on his own. What was happening? Why had she fallen into the water? He didn’t understand what was happening.
The women kept working on her, but nothing was changing. She wouldn’t breathe. As he watched, he felt his heart racing. He wanted to give her his heartbeat. He placed his right hand over his heart and closed his eyes.
Breathe. Beat. Be. Alive.
He thought those four words over and over again. He could feel them being chanted at the same pace the women were pressing on her.
Breathe. Beat. Be. Alive.
He needed her to live. She was his best friend. He couldn’t handle this world without her in it.
Breathe. Beat. Be. Alive.
She had to live. What would he be without her?
He thought the last word and let out a deep breath.
Everything was quiet. No one was trying to resuscitate her anymore. He opened his eyes and was about to ask why they had stopped.
The women were looking at him. Their eyes were wide with shock.
“What have you done?” one of them asked. The other two wrapped their arms around themselves and rubbed their bodies like they were cold.
“What? What happened?” he asked.
The woman who’d scolded him stepped aside. He could see her. She was looking at him.
She was alive.
She was staring at him wide-eyed. She slowly raised her hand in front of her face and spread her fingers, as if she was seeing them for the first time. She put her hand on chest over her heart.
She smiled and took a deep breath.
As the years passed, the memory of that day faded for him. He didn’t understand it then, but he’d done something he shouldn’t have. He was ostracized even among the circus.
Everyone eyed him warily when he walked past. They never made him leave, but they never forgot that day. They talked about it all the time. They warned all newcomers. And whenever there was an accident, as was apt to happen around flimsy rides and wild animals, he wasn’t allowed to help. As soon as anything would go wrong, he would be shoved away and forced to leave the area.
They were made to live in a RV separate from the others.
But the strangest result of that day was that she never spoke again. She followed him everywhere, and most times, even without speaking, she seemed to understand what he was thinking.
May 2022 short story of the month, late, but finished
They were getting married in just three weeks, and things were not looking good. They hadn’t found a decent band, and Sheri was not going to have a DJ at her wedding.
While Daryl didn’t have an opinion about anything, his mother, Denise, seemed to have an opinion about everything, even the specifics of their honeymoon. Denise talked Daryl into a shorter trip and even planned their daily itineraries. She didn’t think they should plan a shopping day or scuba diving. She felt it would be better if Sheri and Daryl did a couple’s spa day.
Sheri listened to the voicemail from Daryl for the third time and took a deep breath. She held it for longer than was comfortable and when she couldn’t resist it anymore, she exhaled. This wasn’t going to work. She was getting married, not her mother-in-law. This was her wedding, and she was not about to give into Denise’s every suggestion.
There was a simple solution to all of this—very simple.
They would elope, and then as soon as they arrived on the islands, Sheri could change all of the pre-booked activities she wanted.
Sheri listened to the voicemail from Daryl for the third time and mashed the phone to end the call. She slammed the phone onto the counter and paced around the kitchen island.
She was furious. This was the last straw. Her mother-in-law was determined to control everything. Sheri couldn’t get Daryl to tell his mother when enough was enough.
There was a simple solution to this—very simple.
“Sometimes you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet,” said Denise to the kitchen as she stopped pacing right in front of the knife block.
Sheri didn’t answer the phone when Daryl called. She let it go to voicemail. All of their conversations lately were about the same thing. She wasn’t interested in having another argument about their wedding. Daryl always opted for whatever his mother told him to choose.
Sheri was having serious doubts about going through with the wedding. It was only a month away. Maybe it was time to say enough is enough.
After all, there was a simple solution to having a fiancé who wouldn’t stand up to his mother–very simple.
She could just end this. She placed her hands on the cool surface of the kitchen counter and took a deep calming breath. Sheri knew what she needed to do.
She called Daryl and told him they needed to talk immediately. It went straight to his voicemail, but she didn’t waste any time. She pulled her new luggage out of foyer in the closet. She was saving it for their honeymoon, instead, they would be using it for the wedding and then a honeymoon in Vegas.
She wasn’t one hundred percent sure that Daryl would go for eloping, but she wouldn’t leave him with a choice. It was her or his mother. That was a strange way of phrasing it, but he would understand.
Sheri called Daryl and told him to invite his mother for dinner tomorrow night. She wanted to have a nice quiet evening with just the three of them. The only condition was that they were not going to talk about the wedding.
They all needed a break from that.
Sheri texted Daryl four words, “We need to talk.”
Daryl called Sheri as he left the office, but she didn’t pick up. He didn’t leave a voicemail. He figured she was just going to rant about his mother again. He was too stressed about everything to get in the middle of their petty fighting. He just wanted to get married to Sheri and then his mother would stop. Wouldn’t she?
Sheri was waiting in the living room when Daryl got home from work. She had packed both their suitcases.
He raised his eyebrow as he entered the room. “What’s going on?” he asked, gesturing at the luggage. “Going somewhere?”
“We both are,” Sheri replied. “Tonight. I’ve already booked the tickets. We leave in a couple of hours.”
“And where are we going?” asked Daryl.
“Vegas.” Sheri answered but didn’t explain. She figured Daryl could put two and two together himself.
“Is this because of the honeymoon changes? My mom explained why…”
Sheri cut him off, “It’s not just about that. If you love me and want to marry me, we’re eloping to Vegas. This is the only option left.”
Sheri made lasagna, salad, and she even baked a focaccia bread. It was a simple and delicious meal.
Daryl arrived just after six with his mother in tow. Denise walked into their condo with pursed lips. She was clearly biting her tongue.
“Please sit,” said Sheri. “Start with salad. I just have a few things to finish up in the kitchen.”
They talked for hours. In the end, Sheri told him it was over.
Daryl couldn’t believe she wouldn’t just let his mother make a few decisions for them. What was the big deal?
They held hands on the entire flight. They went straight to the hotel, put their luggage in their room, and went straight to the chapel.
After the wedding, they had a week to themselves. No one in their family knew where they were.
They knew when they returned home, Denise would be furious, but they were so blissfully happy, they didn’t care.
Neither Daryl nor his mother suspected anything. They were both dead before the lasagna was ready.
Sheri ate her’s in the kitchen with a fresh piece of baked bread.
Sheri moved out of the condo and into her sister’s basement. She lived with them for nearly six months before she could afford to move out. Daryl’s mother had insisted she pay back half the cost of the wedding.
It was the price of freedom, and she gladly paid it.
Sometimes I blog about writing (most of the time), but every once in a while, I like to ramble about what I’ve been reading. Last fall, right around Halloween, I read The Bone Witch.
If you are familiar with the series, you know it’s by Rin Chupeco. Since reading that book, I’ve read many more of her books. And I’ve come to the conclusion that I love her books.
I’ve read the first two of the Bone Witch trilogy and am currently reading the third. I’ve read The Girl from the Well and just bought the second book The Suffering.
I’ve also read both the books in the Never Tilting World set. Honestly, as soon as a I get a chance, I’ll be reading the other books she’s written too.
The question you may be asking is why do I love her books so much…
Her books are full of adventure, and they just go. I find them hard to put down.
If you’ve read my books or my short stories, it’s the kind of pacing I like to write as well.
In the Never Tilting World books, each chapter is a different viewpoint, and she rotates through them for the rest of the book. I love this. The story is told from so many different perspectives. It gives details and insights that would be missed in a different narrative style.
In the Bone Witch Trilogy, there are two narrators, and their differing viewpoints add layers to the story.
The Grey Characters
What I mean by this is there are characters in her books who are neither good nor bad.
She writes some very strong good guys and some epic villains, but my favorite characters in her books tend to be the ones who are a bit of both.
The Bone Witch Trilogy centers around a bone witch, think necromancer.
In the Never Tilting World books, one of the main characters has to endure trials that give her both light and dark magics.
In The Girl from the Well, a ghost helps free the souls of lost children, and at the same time, kills the people who’ve harmed those children.
I can’t get enough of this type of character!
As you can see, I really love her books. If you like Young Adult Fantasy / Adventure / Horror, read one of her books, or maybe two or three.
As always, happy reading and writing today and every day! GO READ A BOOK!