Hindsight…

This month has been pretty great so far. I’m taking the time and settling into my new routine for the year. (Just in time for it to change again as my daughter might finally get to attend in person school again, which we are both super excited about). However, as I’ve been working on my new goals for this year, I’ve also been reflecting on what I actually accomplished last year. Despite the superbly weird year that it was, it wasn’t all bad.

Here’s what I actually managed to accomplish…

  • Read 40 books (I’ve underlined the ones that were high points in the year for me).
    • The Library of the Unwritten
    • The Starless Sea
    • The Destined Queen
    • Bright Lights, Big City
    • Night and Day
    • The Shadow of the Wind
      • I adored this book. I don’t want to give away the plot but it’s about love and revenge. It’s soooooo good. READ IT.
    • Fledgling
    • Beautiful Darkness
    • Grand Union
    • Locke and Key Vol.1
    • Batman Arkham: Black Mask
    • Mastiff
    • Predator’s Gold
    • This Mortal Coil
    • Scythe
      • I sat down to read this and didn’t get up till I was done. Imagine being and working for grim reapers in a society where people don’t die anymore…..
    • The Stone Sky
      • This is the third book in a series. If you haven’t, read them all. The series is amazing and this was the perfect end to it.
    • The Girl in the Spider’s Web
    • The Left Hand of Darkness
    • When You Reach Me
    • Cursed
    • The Lovely Bones
    • Follow Me to the Ground
      • This book definitely falls into the “weird tale” category of fiction. It’s bizarre and amazing. I can’t explain it; it’s too weird. Read it.
    • The City We Became
    • This Savage Song
    • Magpie Murders
    • Lost Boy
    • Practical Magic
    • The Invention of Hugo Cabret
    • The Dreaming Vol.2
    • Walk Two Moons
    • Our Dark Duet
    • The Constant Rabbit
    • The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home Vol. 1
    • Black Market Unicorns
    • Word by Word
      • This is a non-fiction book about how dictionary entries are completed. I found this whole book fascinating, and the author is funny. Great read!
    • The Lost Plot
    • Wayward Son
    • The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home Vol. 2
    • Born a Crime
    • Shatter Me
  • Wrote and published my second novel
    • If you haven’t heard, the second book in my series is out now on Amaon! Buy your own copy here:
    • Black Market Unicorns
  • Wrote 12 short stories (click the links to see last year’s short stories)
  • Finished a cross stitch gift for my sister
    • I stitched her some flowers with a snarky saying. It’s one of my favorite projects I’ve completed. (You can see it below this list).
  • Moved
    • We moved from Kansas to Washington, and even though it was rough, we did it! We are settled in now and everything is going pretty good here. I just can’t wait for the schools to open because my daughter is getting cabin fever!

All in all, it wasn’t a bad year. It was challenging, I’ll give you that. Anyway… let’s move on…

Happy reading and writing this month!

January 2021 Writing Prompt

It’s a new year! And it’s already off to a tense start for a lot of us… I’m trying to focus on the positive. For my family, some good things have already happened this year.

The biggest news for us is we sold a house that we’ve owned for a few years, but we haven’t lived in for 5 years because of moving. I’m so excited to not be a home owner! I know that might sound strange to some, but I’m a worrier. Living across the country from the house and trying to rent it out and care for it has been stressful for me. I’m glad it’s over.

In addition to that, not much has been happening. I’ve been setting my goals and personal projects up for the year. My goals for 2021 are:

  • 1. Read 45 books
  • 2. Complete my third novel (it’s about 2/3 of the way drafted already).
  • 3. Write 12 short stories (return to my blog every month for the short story of the month)
  • 4. Finish my flower needlework project
  • 5. Finish my Grimm Fairy Tale Cross Stitch

I might add to my goals as the year progresses, but for now, I’m starting small.

If you come here to read the prompt and short story every month, let’s get started!!!

The first prompt for the year is:

I sat down next to her on the couch. It was time to start telling the truth. But I couldn’t just dive into the heart of the matter, so I started with the little things. I told her…

Complete the Story

Just like last year, here are the requirements for my short story every month:

  • A. Using the prompt, write a story of at least 1000 words and post by the end of the month
  • B. All 12 stories for the year will be related. They will be in the same “world.” (If you read last year, I wrote about a magical family of sisters and their extended family).

Happy reading and writing this year!!!!

Real Life

December 2020’s short story of the month

As a kid I’d spend almost all of my allowance money on going to the movies. I’d go see a double feature on a Saturday afternoon and emerge from the dark theater into the blinding sunlight, and it seemed like it was the “real” world that was made up and fake. I’d walk home and invent stories about the people in town, like Mr. Roberts, our mailman, who was clearly an evil villain and secretly a vampire.

I wanted desperately for magic to be real and for it to triumph over some unknown emerging power. I wanted to travel to space or find out that I was actually a member of some distant royal family. They’d just misplaced me at birth. The movies were better than the small town I lived in. Everyone was better looking, and even though the obstacles the characters faced were earth-shattering, they always overcame them in the nick of time.

I wanted there to be something more. I didn’t care if it involved danger. I just wanted something to happen. Nothing ever happened here. No one ever murdered anyone because of a tragic love triangle. No criminals set up shop in town. There were no traffickers or smugglers. There wasn’t even a village idiot. I lived in the most boring town in the whole world. The biggest thing that happened this year was the town council voted to put in a stop light. We didn’t even need a stop light. They just wanted to feel “fancy.”

Someone needed to tell them that having a stop light wasn’t fancy. It was needed to control the flow of traffic and prevent accidents. We didn’t even have accidents here, not bad ones anyway.

Our newspaper was filled with pictures of school age children posing with participation trophies alongside the most recent winners of whatever the local charities were raffling off.

Instead of escaping to the movies this Saturday, I was standing on main street like the rest of the town, waiting for the tape cutting ceremony for the new traffic light. As I stood there next to my parents and sister, I scanned the crowd. I knew everyone. I saw all of my class mates. They all looked about as thrilled as I was to be idling along the street for something that I didn’t care about.

As I crowd watched, my eye landed on three girls who attended my school. The oldest was in my grade; her name was Mary. Her younger sisters, Angela and Tilly, were her only friends. They were an odd family. In fact, the more I thought about it, if there was a secret in town, it had to be something relating to their family. They were just slightly off, even for this town.

They kept to themselves, almost exclusively. I couldn’t put my finger on what was out of place about them, but they were an odd bunch. I’d bumped into them once at the movies; they were there with a boy close to their age and a woman I didn’t recognize. It was literally the only time I’d seen them go to the movies. That was fairly odd. It was one of the only things to do around town, and the sisters had only been once in their whole lives.

What did they do all the time? What were they hiding? Their parents weren’t friends with anyone either. They were always polite to everyone, but they weren’t a part of the community in any real way.

I watched the sisters as they looked bored just like the rest of the kids standing around. There was a loud boom as a cannon was fired at town hall. It was followed by the sound of the marching band beginning the parade.

They were actually having a parade for the inauguration of a traffic light. This town was so lame. The parents of the sisters were watching everything with fascination. None of the other parents were that enamored with the situation, but their parents watched everything with a sense of awe and wonder.

The sisters realizing their parents were distracted, used the opportunity to sneak away. I looked up at my own parents. They were carrying on a conversation with the family next to them. I also made a break for it.

I took a few steps away from my family and then checked to see if anyone noticed my movement. Everyone was distracted. I wove my way through the people and got behind the crowd. The longer I was moving, the more everyone pressed forward to watch the parade. I quickly found myself near where the sisters had been standing.

I moved behind the crowd again and searched for them. I didn’t see them anywhere, but there was an alley between the barber shop and the antique store. I dashed towards it but stopped short of turning the corner. Instead, I peaked around. I saw them casually walking arm in arm away from the parade. They turned behind the buildings. I tucked my hands in my pockets and strolled through the alley following in their footsteps. I didn’t want to run because I might draw unwanted attention, but I wanted to know what they were doing.

As I came around the building, I slowed and tried to peak around the corner. I saw them running off towards the park. They were giggling and laughing so I ran after knowing they wouldn’t hear me.

Once they crossed onto the green grass of the park, they all ran straight for the playground. I ran until I was in the park, but made for the trees so I could watch them.

They were just being normal kids. They were climbing and running and sliding. They laughed loudly and freely. I’d never seen them at the playground before. It occurred to me that this was something their family didn’t do very often.

After they’d ran around for several minutes, they made their way to the swings. They each took their own and where swinging back and forth in no time.

I felt like a fool. I’d chased after them hoping to learn their secret but they didn’t have any secret. Other than having an overprotective family. They were just kids.

I was about to leave and return before my family came looking for me. I watched them.

Mary jumped from the swing when it was at its highest point. She didn’t fall clumsily to the ground and land with a thud; instead, she went higher and higher and then gently glided down touching the ground almost gently.

I shook my head. How did she do that?

And then her sisters did it too. They moved in a way that didn’t make sense. How did they float? They should have fallen like every other kid on the swings.

Once they were all back on the ground, they joined hands and spun in a circle chanting a nursey rhyme.

I sat down against the tree. What had I just seen? It didn’t make sense.

I turned to spy on them again, but they were gone. I scanned around but didn’t see them. I walked back towards the noise of the parade. I could hear someone on a glitching mic discussing the momentous occasion.

I felt like I’d just left the movie theater. Nothing felt real. The real world was fake. The sisters were real. I knew it down to my bones.

December’s Prompt

Hello readers! It’s been a big month for me, and because of that, I’m behind with my blogging.

In happy news, my second novel was released this month, so if you haven’t checked it out yet, here is the link to my new novel:

If you came here for this month’s writing prompt, without further ado, here is December’s short story of the month prompt:

As a kid I’d spend almost all of my allowance money on going to the movies. I’d go see a double feature on a Saturday afternoon and emerge from the dark theater into the blinding sunlight, and it seemed like it was the “real” world that was made up and fake. So I’d walk home and invent stories about the people in town, like Mr. Roberts, our mailman, who…

Complete the Story

Like usual, this story will fit into the world I’ve been using for this year’s prompts. Can’t wait to share it with you all!

Happy reading and writing this month!

Double Double

November 2020’s short story of the month

In German it’s called a doppelganger, a look-alike. Literally, a “double-goer.” I stared at the boy in the newspaper article. Was it possible that he wasn’t aware that he had a double out there, just like I didn’t know until today when my cousin showed me the paper?

I was spending the summer with my cousins. We were doing our best to keep out of trouble, but we’d started taking day trips outside of town. We weren’t supposed to, and if their parents found out we were using magic to travel, we’d all be grounded until we were grown.

“He looks just like you,” Mary said. Her sisters nodded in agreement.

“I know. I can see,” I said exasperated. “Does it matter though? Don’t they say that everyone has a double?”

“That’s just something people say to be funny,” said Tilly the youngest of my cousins.

“What if it’s true though? It’s probably just coincidence,” I said.

Mary, Angela, and Tilly all glared at me for being flippant.

We were all casters, and one of the first lessons we learned as children was if it seems like a coincidence, it’s probably magic.

“Should we tell your parents?” I asked.  

They all shook their heads in unison.

“How would we tell them we found a newspaper from out of town?” asked Mary. “They’ll know we left town, and worse, they’ll know we used magic.”

“We’ll be grounded for life,” whispered Angela.

“Okay. Okay. We won’t tell them. Why would a doppelganger of me be here? I don’t live here. I’m just here visiting.”

We were sitting on the patio of an ice cream store. We were splitting a banana split. While Tilly and I had been buying the sundae, Mary and Angela were claiming a table. That’s how they’d found the paper. Someone who’d been here earlier had left it on the table.

That seemed like a coincidence too. It probably wasn’t.

He really did look just like me. He was in the paper for helping save a little kid from drowning at the lake. The article was titled “Local Teen Saves Child.” The article was about how he was a hero, and he was standing there grinning in the picture shaking the hand of the mayor.

If it was a spell, I didn’t see the point.

If we weren’t going to tell my uncle and aunt, we needed to look into it ourselves. That meant more trips to town and more possibilities of being caught.

“What can we do?” I asked. I should have known better than to ask my cousins to help with something like this. Any opportunity to scheme or defy their parents, and they had a habit of taking things too far. I loved them. They were more than family; we’d grown up together and were truly friends. However, they were a handful, especially Mary.

“We’ll start by tracking him down,” said Mary. Her eye twinkled with mischief. She was plotting already.

“We could look him up at the library,” suggested Angela. “The article included his name. I’ll bet he’ll be easy to find.” She was spooning up the melted ice cream and whipped cream.

“It’s a good idea,” I said.

We let Angela finish the ice cream soup before we set out. We didn’t walk there; it was too hot for that. We went behind the shop and teleported to the library.

I loved this town’s library. The architecture was classic from the stone steps and façade to the columns holding up the roof. Stone lions sat on either side of the stairs guarding the knowledge of the collected books.

My cousins and I moved chairs and gathered around one computer. The article said the boy’s name was Cole Mathers. At the keyboard, Mary put his name into a search engine. The article we’d just read was the first hit.

After that all the results we tried took us to information about an adult named Cole Mathers who was well known for founding a town further north. He was also a philanthropist whose vast fortune was left to various charities.

We couldn’t find any other information about the local Cole Mathers. That wasn’t all that surprising; he was a teen after all, just like us. It was odd though that he didn’t have a single social media account. My cousins and I weren’t supposed to use that stuff because our families were backward—most magical families were that way. But non-magic teens were always online. Their whole lives could be found there.

“Try searching for any adults who are local with the last name Mathers,” I whispered to Mary.

We didn’t get any results.

“Why don’t we try an old-fashioned phone book?” suggested Angela. “I saw one on the front counter by a public phone.”

I shrugged. “Might as well try,” I said.

Tilly and Angela left to go search the phone book while Mary and I tried more of the links from our first search. We weren’t having any better luck. Everything we opened was still about the former Cole Mathers, not the teen.

Before long, the other two returned from the front. As they sat, they both shook their heads—no luck then.

“We could try to find him with magic,” said Tilly.

“Shhhhh…,” I said. Other library patrons weren’t paying attention to us, but I didn’t want anyone to over hear us. Most people would assume we were just kids being silly playing some game, but we still needed to be careful. We weren’t the only magical users in the whole world, and if this doppelganger was part of a spell, we might be on someone’s radar already.

“That’s a bad idea,” Angela said.

Mary cleared the computer screen and motioned with her head for us all to follow her.

Back outside in the sun on the library steps, my cousins escalated things. Mary cast a tracking spell on the paper. When I realized what she was doing, I broke it up.

“Don’t do that,” I said. “It might draw him here. We should just tell your mom and dad.”

“Malcom,” said Mary in her exasperated voice. “Don’t be such a baby.”

Interview and Nano #3

This has been an exciting NANOWRIMO for me. This is my third year participating. I’m loving it again, and I’m glad I decided to join. I am at about 38,000 words so far for the month.

In addition to writing like a crazy mad fool, I’ve been busy with some smaller projects.

If you missed it, I was featured in an interview by Literary Express. You can read it here: Amanda’s ‘Block’ | LITERARY EXPRESS.

I also finished my list of editing, and book two in the Magical Realms Adventures went to my editor!

And I’ve almost finished my holiday shopping.

November has been very productive for me so far!

I hope everyone is meeting their writing goals!

Happy reading and writing this month!

November Prompt

Well, after being on the fence for a while, I decided to participate in NANOWRIMO again this year. The first four days have gone great so far. I’ve been hitting my target each day, so hopefully that energy will continue.

Anyway, whether you are doing NANO or just writing per usual, here is this month’s short story prompt:

In German it’s called a doppelganger, a look-alike. Literally, a “double-goer.” I stared at the boy in the newspaper article. Was it possible that he…

Complete the Story

Happy reading and writing this month!

New Friend

October 2020’s short story of the month

She was the new girl. The one who sat in the cafeteria at lunch alone. Maybe she was from the next state over. Maybe she was from another country. I wanted to know everything about her: her mother’s name, her favorite movie, if she had brothers, sisters, what she ate for breakfast—in other words, everything.

In my ten years going to this school, we’d never had a new person. No one ever moved to this town. They moved away and never came back. Well, there was that one family, but they were weird, even for this town.

If I wanted to make friends, I needed to move fast. Every kid in the school would be chomping at the bit to get to know her, my sisters included. My family was well liked in town and my younger sisters were considered popular, but everyone, including my family, considered me an odd duck. If I wanted a chance at a new friend, I needed to make my move now.

She’d already been here for a week, and every day she sat in the cafeteria alone. No one had invited her to sit with them. See how weird we all were. We didn’t even have the decency to invite a newcomer to share a meal.

I got up from my seat and grabbed my tray. I walked slowly over to where she was sitting. I didn’t want to move too fast and draw attention. If the others knew what I was up to, they might suddenly become interested. I also didn’t want to run up to her and seem like a lonely weirdo.

When I got to her table, I stopped and waited standing across from her. She slowly looked up at me. She didn’t say anything. I guess I was going to have to break the ice.

“Mind if I sit here?” I asked, indicating the seat across from her.

She shook her head causing her messy up-do to slip a little. Several pieces of hair fell out of her tie and brushed her shoulders.

“My name is Mary,” I said, hoping it would prompt her to talk, but she just sat there. She stared at me for a while then went back to eating her sack lunch. It looked like a ham and cheese sandwich, and she was piling the crust directly on the table and only eating the middle.

I wasn’t going to let her shyness prevent me from making a friend. I needed a friend. In this small town, you didn’t get many chances to make them, and this late in high school, it was almost unthinkable to gain anyone into your social circle.

“So…you like it here so far?” I asked.

She just shrugged.

“Yeah, that’s how I feel too, and I’ve lived here my whole life.” I wasn’t giving up.

She finished shredding her sandwhich and reached into her bag for something else. She pulled out a juice box and inserted the straw. She drank it until it slurped loudly and then flattened it on the table and put it back in the bag.

Meanwhile, I was taking small bites of what our cafeteria considered spaghetti and trying to think of something else to say.

“Do you like your classes?” I asked. She just shrugged again. “I haven’t seen you in any of mine.” I waited, hoping it would prompt her to say something about her teachers. I was determined to get something out of her. “I have English right after lunch. What about you?”

She shook her head.

That didn’t really answer my question. “Well…” I was running out of ideas. I looked up at the clock and saw that lunch was almost over. “I’ll see you tomorrow,” I said gathering my tray and heading to my locker.

**********

The next day I went straight to her table. This time I didn’t say anything. She had a sack lunch again, and I had what the cafeteria considered a hamburger. There were large chunks of orange in it, which were obviously carrots. They weren’t subtle about hiding vegetables in the food.

She ate her sandwhich just like she had the day before. She pulled the crusts off and dropped them on the table. Then, she pulled her jucice box out and emptied it then proceeded to flatten it. She finished by putting all of it back in her sack to be thrown out. Then she just sat there watching me eat.

I didn’t speak. I thought maybe if I just sat there smiling, she might be tempted to say something. She didn’t. We ate in silence, and just before the bell, I left and went to English.

*********

The next day I decided on yet a third tactic for getting her to talk. When I sat down with my chef’s salad from the cafeteria, and she opened her sandwich, I just started talking. I didn’t wait for her to answer this time. If she couldn’t be bothered to speak, or was too shy, I was still going to make her my friend.

“I’ve lived here my whole life. I have two sisters. You might have met them. I’m nothing like them. They are kind of popular, and I’m more like you,” I paused realizing she might have taken what I’d just said as an insult, but she didn’t say anything or even react. I kept talking. I told her about my parents and my grandparents. I told her about what I liked to eat, when I wasn’t at school. I told her about my favorite movie, and retold it scene for scene. Just before the bell, I cleared my tray and went to English.

As I sat down in English, Tracie tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around to see what she wanted. She rarely spoke to me because she was part of the more popular crowd.

“Yes?” I asked.

“Why do you keep sitting alone at the first table and talking to yourself during lunch?” she asked.

“What are you talking? I’ve been sitting with the new girl.” I thought maybe they hadn’t seen her. But she had sat alone for a week before I’d joined her.

“There is no new girl,” Tracie just stared at me.

I turned around but all through class I sat there wondering if she was just messing with me. At the end of the day, I went to the office. I knew how I could learn the new girl’s name. I asked the secretary but she told me there hadn’t been any new students this school year.

********

The next day at lunch, I sat with the new girl again. I didn’t speak this time. I just watched her as we ate. She watched me back. I didn’t smile at her this time. When I stood up to go to English, she winked at me.