September 2021’s Prompt

It’s September! I love this month! And I’m working very hard to get the draft of my third novel sent to my editor by the end of this month! (Wish me luck!)

If you’re here for this month’s short story prompt:

After my father’s stroke, he started crying all the time. He cried about everything: sentimental commercials, pop songs on the radio, or…

Complete the Story

Now go get writing!

Happy reading and writing today and everyday!

Earth Magic

August 2021 short story of the month

When he tried to express himself with words, he could never get it right. But with his hands, he could shape things, mold things, and make things. He had discovered that gift as a young boy when he fell in love the first time.

He was only six, and despite his young age, he fell in love with Cheryl. She was his nanny, and much to his liking, she was younger than the previous ones.

She always played the games he liked, and she sang him to sleep. But the reason he fell in love with her was that she made cookies with raspberry jam on them.

He drew her pictures that she proudly displayed in the toy room. He sang her songs that she learned by heart and sang back to him.

She began working for his family in the spring, and she joined his family as they spent the summer at their beach cottage.

It was the best summer of his life. They would spend all day at the shore. Some days he swam, and others they would build elaborate sandcastles.

One afternoon in addition to himself and Cheryl, there were some young men loitering at the beach. They were loud and Cheryl seemed distracted by them. She kept smiling and looking in their direction. It never occurred to him that he was her job, and she really wanted to frolic with people her own age.

One of the beachgoers approached. He was smiling from ear to ear.

“Hi there,” the newcomer said to Cheryl.

The child watched the exchange between Cheryl and the young man with interest. How could he get Cheryl to bat her eyelashes and smile at him like that? He knew Cheryl loved him too; she had too.

Cheryl talked and flirted for several minutes with the young man. At the end of their conversation, she made plans to meet him later.

“It’s a date,” she said as her new friend walked off to rejoin his cronies.

The rest of the day the child was inconsolable. Nothing cheered him up. The lunch wasn’t the food he wanted. The sun was too hot, and the water was too cold. He wasn’t tired and didn’t want to nap. He didn’t want those stories read to him. And no, he didn’t want a song.

The next few days Cheryl was distracted and prone to daydreaming. Sometimes she didn’t even answer when he asked one of a thousand questions.

He was losing her. He knew it. He needed to do something that would impress her and win her heart back.

As the days passed, he couldn’t think of anything. What was he supposed to do? He was only six.

He sulked and fussed with Cheryl even though he wanted her to like him.

Summer started to wind down. After that first date, Cheryl sometimes took days off.

On the days she returned, the child was always at his worst. He couldn’t help it; he knew he was losing his tenuous hold on her.

He needed to do something, anything, to win her back.

One day, near the end of summer, he was made to stay near the house. The sky was an unsettling shade of grey, and the clouds were unfriendly.

He was allowed to go outside, but he had to stay in the yard. He walked in circles around the house. Cheryl sat in the back prepping vegetables for supper.

After walking around the house so many times, he was creating a path in the yard, he stopped to play in the dirt. He was not within eyesight of Cheryl. She would have stopped him. If he got dirty, he would have to be bathed before dinner.

He dug a hole about the size of a dinner plate and dug down and down until he had a nice little pile of dirt. He intended to keep digging. He was trying to get as dirty as possible. The more dirt, the more time Cheryl would have to pay attention to only him.

As he reached his hand into the hole to scoop out another handful, the texture of the earth was different. The dirt he’d already removed was a chocolate brown color with little grey pebbles throughout.

This new layer was stickier somehow and the color was lighter. He had to push harder to move it out of the hole. Once he had a handful, he held it up to examine it.

It even smelled different.

It was clay. He’d seen a pottery studio on one of their walks through the beach town. The sign in the window said the pottery was made from locally sourced clay. And he’d found some of his very own.

He scooped out more and more until he had a pile in his lap. Then he closed his eyes and pictured one of the vases he’d seen in town.

He wanted to make Cheryl a vase. She would like that. She liked flowers, and if he made a vase, she would think of him every time she put fresh flowers in it.

He moved his hands around the clay molding it the way he imagined it should look. In his mind, he was making a beautiful curvy vase.

When he opened his eyes, he was disappointed. It was still just a pile of clay.

His brow furrowed. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes again. He had to make a vase. He was desperate. The summer was almost over.

When Cheryl hadn’t seen the boy for several minutes, she walked around the yard until she saw him playing in the dirt. She didn’t want to disturb him. He looked so content.

She would have to give him a bath before dinner, but it was worth it for the few minutes he was not behaving like a brat.

She went back to prepping vegetables on the back porch. After some time had passed, and it was nearing time to take the boy in, he appeared holding the most beautiful vase she’d ever seen.

“Where did you get this?” Cheryl asked.

“I made it,” he said proudly, sticking his chest out.

What’s in a Name?

July 2021’s short story of the month (better late than never).

“Clarice,” said her teacher.

“Clarissa,” she said, correcting her teacher. Names were important. For years, she’d been embarrassed about her name and wished it were something ordinary. But then something happened that changed her mind. That day was always at the forefront of her mind.

She’d almost made a fatal error. She’d almost been consumed by a dark fae. She shuddered just thinking about the fae’s claws, teeth, and foul presence.

“Clarissa,” Daisy hissed at her trying not to attract their teacher’s attention. “You’re doing that thing again.” Daisy’s brow was wrinkled, and she was a shade pinker than normal. Something was wrong with Clarissa, but she wouldn’t talk to Daisy about it.

“I’m fine,” Clarissa whispered back. She faced forward. She couldn’t afford to get detention again. Her parents would be furious.

Mr. Smith glanced in their direction. He pressed his finger to his lips but didn’t let it stop his lecture. Mr. Smith tried not to glance too frequently at the girls, but this town was getting to him.

He was starting to believe in magic, and he had a sneaking suspicion that these two girls were… well, for lack of a better word, witches. All he knew was something was going on that defied explanation, and the more he looked into the strange occurrences, the more he saw a pattern. A pattern that included the families of both Daisy and Clarissa.

As soon as he finished his lecture, he wrote the assignment on the board and reminded the class that this was independent work, no asking their neighbors for help. Some reminders he needed printed on signs he could wave around every few seconds, including “no cheating.”

The rest of the period was uneventful. Mr. Smith sat at his desk waiting for the students to turn in their assignments and leave. Clarissa lingered, waiting for everyone else to exit. Daisy hesitated at the door but decided against saying something to her friend and went to her next class.

Clarissa cleared her throat as she stood a few feet from Mr. Smith’s desk. He was gathering the assignments and trying to tidy the stack into something neat enough to stuff into a folder.

“Yes, Clarissa, what is it?” he asked.

“Please make sure to get my name right,” she blurted out and then dashed out of the room.

He just shook his head in confusion and considered it another one of those weird teen outbursts that happened from time to time.

During their lunch break, Daisy and Clarissa sat in silence eating. Daisy kept looking up at Clarissa between bites, but she didn’t know what to say. She knew something was wrong. It’d been going on since spring break. Clarissa overreacted to everything. Who cared if Mr. Smith called her the wrong name? It was no reason to draw attention to yourself. Daisy’s philosophy was to stay under the adults’ radar as much as possible.

Sean plopped down across the table from Daisy and elbowed Clarissa as he took items out of a brown bag.

“Don’t,” Clarissa said, sliding away from him a few more inches.

“Sorry,” Sean said holding his hands up in mock surrender. He raised his eyebrows and looked to Daisy.

Daisy shook her head and mouth, “No idea.” She shrugged.

“So,” Sean said trying to break the awkward tension created by Clarissa’s outburst. “Big plans this weekend?”

Daisy shook her head again. “Not really. Clarissa and I were thinking about going to the movies on Saturday. Do you want to join?” She reached across the table and stole a few of Sean’s Doritos.

Clarissa didn’t mean to snap at her friends, but ever since Mr. Smith had called her the wrong name that morning, she’d felt like a dark cloud was following her around.

She closed her eyes and wrapped her arms tightly around her body. Maybe if she counted imaginary sheep, she could calm down.

“What are you doing?” asked Daisy barely above a whisper.

Clarissa opened one eye and looked at her friends. They were both staring at her wide eyed with raised eyebrows.

“Sorry,” she said letting go of herself. “I’m…” She didn’t even know how to finish that sentence. “I’m not feeling well.” She looked down at her lap trying not to let her friends see the tears filling her eyes.

Sean slid closer to her but didn’t reach out to touch her. “Hey, we’re here for you. You can tell us. What’s wrong?”

Clarissa nodded and wiped the tears away. “Okay, but not here. Not at school. Can you guys come over today after band practice?”

Her friends nodded in unison.

Daisy and Sean arrived at Clarissa’s house together. As they were walking up the sidewalk, they couldn’t help but speculate about their friend.

“What do you think is going on with her?” asked Sean.

“I honestly have no idea,” said Daisy. “Whatever it is though, it’s nothing good. I’ve never seen her like this.”

Clarissa’s mom, who never stopped cooking or baking, handed them each a piece of pumpkin bread and a cup of tea before letting them head upstairs to find Clarissa.

Clarissa ushered them in and shut the door. She cast a spell that soundproofed the room. Daisy and Sean exchanged a look because Clarissa never used her magic unless she felt threatened.

She sat down on the floor with them and folded her legs.

“Okay. I’m going to tell you what’s been bothering me, but you can’t tell anyone. Not your parents, especially,” Clarissa said staring them down. “Swear it.”

They both nodded and said almost in unison, “We swear.”

In the back of her mind, Daisy made the promise, but she also knew that if her friend was really in danger, she would break that promise.

Clarissa swallowed and began her story. “I know you won’t believe it. I still can’t believe it sometimes. Even though I have waking nightmares and see it everywhere I look, I can’t believe I…”

She paused. “Let me start again.”

Lost Memories

June 2021’s short story of the month (sorry it’s late)

It was like an echo from the past, or a dream that he was only just now remembering. He recognized everything about the room, even though he was sure he’d never been there before. He knew the paintings on the walls, could name the artists who’d painted them. The only thing that puzzled him was who was he? He couldn’t remember his own name.

A door creaked behind him.

“Who are you?” he asked the man and woman staring at him.

They quickly glanced at each other, and some secret passed between them. He didn’t know what the look meant, and the secret was apparently not his to know.

They both watched him but when they noticed him looking back, they quickly averted their eyes. They were frowning, and both had wrinkled brows.

The man was the first to speak. “We were afraid this would happen.” The man stepped toward him and stuck out his hand. “I’m Charles, but my friends call me Chuck.”

He shook the hand being offered to him and as he did, something nagged him. He knew this man. At least, he thought he did. And the woman. He knew them both. They were a set. No, that was the wrong word. They were a couple.

He shook his head in frustration. He rubbed his hands on his face. It was like all the information he needed was there but behind a curtain or hidden behind a panel he couldn’t quite unluck.

“Do I know you?” he asked.

Chuck nodded. “Yes, both, my wife and I,” he said pointing to himself and the woman, “we know you very well. We’ve all been friends since we were children.”

They looked at him expectantly, but he wasn’t sure what they wanted.

“That’s good. I guess. Can you tell me who I am?” he asked.

Chuck and his wife exchanged another one of those looks that meant something inexplicable to him.

“Well,” Chuck answered with hesitation, “we can, but we’re not supposed to.”

It was his turn to wrinkle his brow. He was confused and frustrated by this point.

“What do you mean you’re not supposed to?”

Chuck’s wife spoke up this time. “We’re supposed to let you remember for yourself. It’s one of the rules you’ve always emphasized about time magic.”

Chuck shook his head as his wife spoke. “Annie, we’re not supposed to tell him anything.”

She glared at Chuck. “Seriously, Chuck. He’s our friend. We can’t let him wander around not knowing who he is or how he got here.”

Chuck threw up his hands in frustration. “I don’t make the rules. He does.” Chuck pointed at him and stomped around in a small circle. “Perhaps we should notify the Elders.”

“No,” he said, but he didn’t know why. He didn’t want them to notify the Elders. There was that nagging feeling again. He knew even though he couldn’t recall the context of it, that he would be in a lot of trouble if the Elders were called on his account.

Chuck stopped his pacing. “So, you remember that?”

“Why don’t we take him to our house tonight?” suggested Annie.

Chuck pulled Annie aside and whispered to her. “We don’t know what he was doing or when or where he went. He’s been missing for nearly five years. That’s the longest he’s ever been gone before.” Chuck paused and looked at his friend, who was definitely listening in. “We knew this would happen one day,” he said in defeat.

Chuck marched out of the room. He said over his shoulder, “Fine. Let’s go. Come on, Reggie.”

Annie motioned for him to follow and let out a sigh of relief.

As he was following Annie out to their car, he asked her, “Am I Reggie?”

She smiled at him. She just nodded as she opened the car door for him.

He couldn’t sleep that night even though their guest room was comfortable. He crept down the stairs and into their kitchen. He hunted for something to eat, but for some reason, he couldn’t think of what the food items were called and he couldn’t remember what things he liked and didn’t.

He was standing staring at a package of bread when he heard footsteps behind him.

“Can’t sleep?” asked Annie. She took the bread from him. She placed two slices in a device and went around the kitchen gathering other things.

She motioned towards the counter. “Sit on one of the barstools.” She pointed again. “I’ll make you some toast. With butter and jelly. Just the way you always eat it.”

He paused as he was sitting. She kept letting information slip about him. Whatever “rule” there was about not telling him things, she didn’t seem to think it mattered.

He let her make the toast. She placed a plate and a cup in front of him then sat next to him at the bar and watched him eat like a mother fawning over a child.

He had a million questions for her, and he had no idea how to get the most information out of her before she would clam up.

At this point, he didn’t really feel like he had anything to lose.

“Why can’t you tell me things? And why can’t I remember anything about my own life?” He didn’t look at her when he spoke because whenever she made eye contact with him, she looked at him sadly.

“I shouldn’t,” she hesitated and glanced over her shoulder towards the stairs.

“Please,” Reggie begged. “Tell me something, even something small.”

She nodded. “Okay. I can’t imagine what it’s like to not know anything about your own life, not even your own name.” She sighed. “Okay, but it might be best if I don’t give you any specifics about yourself. I’ll explain why you don’t remember anything, but no details.” As she finished speaking, she shook her head. “No details,” she repeated.

He looked at her waiting for her to decide.

“It was always your rule, not mine,” she added.

Several minutes passed and she opened her mouth to speak a couple of times, but she didn’t say anything.

“Okay,” she said again. “You can’t remember who you are because it was the cost of whatever spell you cast.”

Reggie looked at his hands in confusion. Somehow he knew she wasn’t lying.

August 2021’s Prompt

I don’t know how or why I’m so far behind with everything right now. I haven’t been that busy, but I’ve just been spending too much time having fun instead of writing. At this point, I need to finish 3 short stories this month!

Well, let’s get this horse pointed in the right direction… here is August’s short story prompt:

When he tried to express himself with words, he could never get it right. But with his hands, he could shape things, mold things, and make things. He had discovered that gift as a young boy when he…

Complete the Story

I also need to back track and write a story for June and July.

Here is June’s prompt in case you missed it:

It was like an echo from the past, or a dream that he was only just now remembering. He recognized everything about the room, even though he was sure he’d never been there before. He knew the paintings on the walls, could name the artists who’d painted them. The only thing that puzzled him was…

Complete the Story

And here’s July’s prompt:

“Clarissa,” she said, correcting her teacher. Names were important. For years, she’d been embarrassed about her name and wished it were something ordinary. But then something happened that changed her mind. That day…

Complete the Story

I can do this! The story for June is basically done, just needs some polishing, but the other two haven’t left the station.

Anyway, I have things to do…

Happy reading and writing today and everyday!

Read My Books!

If I haven’t mentioned it lately, I have two books that are available on Amazon. As I’m getting closer to finishing book three, I just wanted to remind everyone that you need to read the first two before the third one is released.

The third book is going to be the ending of the series (for now). You don’t want to miss the epic conclusion!

If you are looking for adventure, my books are for you!

If you’re looking for mythical creatures and magical elements, my books are for you.

If you’re reading at a fifth grade level and up, my books are for you. (I wrote my first book at a level my daughter, who was 10 at the time, could read. Because of that, this series has inadvertently become a middle grade reader).

If you just want to see what I’m always carrying on about, my books are for you!

You get the idea…

Happy reading and writing today and every day!

Here are the links to my books, (you can even read a sample before you buy):

July’s Short Story Prompt

It’s the first of July! This month I am not messing around, and I fully intend to get my blog caught up and everything else I’ve meant to…

I woke up feeling pumped today, so I’m hoping to continue that energy this month! I’ve got my to-do list prepped and I’m focusing!

Without further delay, here is this month’s short story idea:

“Clarissa,” she said, correcting her teacher. Names were important. For years, she’d been embarrassed about her name and wished it were something ordinary. But then something happened that changed her mind. That day…

Complete the Story

If you follow my blog, you’ll know that my goal is to write a short story every month using the prompt. In addition, I write a minimum of 1000 words, and the stories are all connected for the year. This year the stories are set in a smallish town with several magic users going about their normal lives. So far, the teenagers of the town have been my focus. I’m still hoping I can find a way to connect the teens together as the year goes on.

Happy reading and writing today and every day! Stay tuned for June and July’s stories (I’m still a little behind).

June 2021 Prompt

I swear yesterday was the first week of June… where is the time going? What’s even stranger to me is that I haven’t really been that busy this month, and I feel like I’ve gotten a lot done… just not on my blog… but trust me, I haven’t been idle.

I finished a huge needlework project! (One of my hobbies is cross-stitch and needlework).

My finished project and me peaking out from behind the frame.

I’ve also been working on cleaning out our garage, which we use for storage. It was so full you couldn’t really walk in it. Now, there is almost room for my car.

Anyhow, I’ve also been working on my novel! I’ve also been reading a bunch and I’m finally on pace to meet my goal for the year (according to Goodreads).

So, anyway, it’s been a good month… if you are here for the prompt, here it is:

It was like an echo from the past, or a dream that he was only just now remembering. He recognized everything about the room, even though he was sure he’d never been there before. He knew the paintings on the walls, could name the artists who’d painted them. The only thing that puzzled him was…

Complete the Story

This is (fingers crossed) going to be a fun one to write about.

Happy reading and writing this month and every day!

Just a Game

May 2021’s Short Story (better late than never)…

It was just a game, or course. But it was more than that, and everyone knew it. They were from the upscale part of town, and we were from the wrong side of the tracks. Literally. North of the rail line, where nothing ever went right. The odds were never in our favor. Our teams didn’t win any trophies, and all the crimes in town happened in the North. The high school graduation rate was almost 25% lower North of the tracks.

And even when things went wrong somewhere else, it was always the fault of those of us from the Northside. We were the bad apples. The losers. The failures.

But I had a plan. Tomorrow night, we would be champions. Tomorrow night we would be winners. Tomorrow night something good was going to be ours.

A plan that would, if nothing else, knock those from the Southside of the rails down a few pegs.

It was after all just a game, and we were only high schoolers. But we deserved a moment, just a moment, to be winners.

My only reservation was that in order to complete my plan, I would have to violate the one rule my parents said I could never break. They said if I ever did what I was about to do, they would disown me. For magic users, that meant being stricken from the family tree, and stripped of the protections the Magic Elders granted.

I didn’t care. It was worth the risk. It wasn’t my fault I was born on the Northside of the tracks. I deserved a small amount of glory.

I had water magic and for months now I’d been testing ways to make this help the football team. I’d finally come across a spell that would grant my team increased stamina and strength. It was technically a spell meant for combat, but this was war. War between the haves and have-nots. A war that had been one sided for too long.

And only a few weeks before the big game, I’d found a spell that casters used to bless their fields of battle. I didn’t know exactly what it meant, but it sounded like it would help.  The night before the game, I put my plan into action.

I snuck out of our apartment after both my parents were passed out on the couch with the late show still playing. The sounds of their snores masked the fake laugh of the audience. I didn’t even have to sneak; I just walked right passed them and out the front door.

My best friend, Tom, was waiting outside with his bike and his kid brother’s. My bike had been stolen only a week ago. It was just my luck. It’s like the universe was trying to cancel my plan before it even started. My parents always said the North was cursed. Maybe they were right.

I didn’t care. Tomorrow night under the lights, we would be champions.

“What are we doing first?” asked Tom as we peddled to South High School’s field.

“Let’s start in the field,” I said pumping the bike as hard as I could.

When we got closer to our destination, we slowed. The lights were off, and no one seemed to be around. So far, everything was going okay.

A cop car rounded the corner on the far side of the field, coming toward us. I jumped off the bike and carried it behind a maintenance shed with me. Luckily, Tom saw the cop too and followed suit without me having to say anything.

“Let’s wait a few minutes,” I said.

We sat on the ground and leaned the bikes against the shed.

“You sure you want to do this?” Tom asked. “It’s not too late to turn back.”

“No way. We are going to win tomorrow.” I punched him in the shoulder to reinvigorate his enthusiasm. He just laughed.

We waited until the street was absolutely silent again. The only sound was the bugs in the trees. In the distance something loud screeched in the woods, but it was too far away to worry me.

We went to the field and laid out the elements we needed to complete the ritual. Tom sat on the bleachers keeping a lookout while I enacted the spell. When I finished, nothing happened. I shrugged and gathered my things.

“Next stop, the locker room,” I said.

“Did anything happen?” Tom asked surveying the field.

I shrugged again. “I guess we’ll find out tomorrow night,” I added.

Just as we were about to enter the gym, thunder rumbled from only a few miles away. That was odd. Normally I could feel a storm coming for hours before it arrived, but this one was coming in fast.

It started to sprinkle as Tom was picking the lock. I put out my hand and caught a few drops.

“I hope this is a good sign,” I said looking warily at the night sky growing darker and darker as more clouds rolled in.

Tom and I walked carefully down the halls using our cell phones as flashlights. Getting into the locker room was easy. They only bothered to lock the outside of the school and the computer rooms.

The spell for stamina and strength was even simpler than the blessing. I just dropped a few droplets of an already prepared potion into the team’s water cooler. Every person who drank from the cooler would be supped up without any other effort on my part.

Tomorrow night was going to be epic. I barely slept. I was too excited to see what, if any, fruit my spells would bear.

The storm raged outside my windows adding to my restlessness. I don’t know what time the lightening started to strike, but I felt the bolt that hit the tree outside our apartment.

My parents were sound asleep when I peaked out my window and watched as the tree caught fire and then was immediately doused by the pouring rain. I wasn’t sure how, but I knew this storm had something to do with my spell on the field.