prompt, Writing

November 2022 Prompt

It’s NANOWRIMO! You should be writing! (Just kidding. Only be writing if you want to).

Well, it’s only the third day of NANO and things are going well for me. This year, I’m writing something I’ve never written before–a mystery novel!

It’s fun to be trying something new, but also daunting. I’m enjoying it so far. Unlike fantasy writing though, I’ve had to look stuff up. (Gasp). I’m not world building or creating my own magic. This time, it’s about solving a crime (and a little bit of magic).

Anywho… whatever you’re working on this month, I hope it’s going well for you.

If you’re here for the short story prompt of the month, you’ve finally found it!

November’s short story prompt:

It was just ridiculous enough to be true. Then again, she could be making the whole thing up. It was just so hard to imagine Diane’s father, the respectable banker who never left the house without a suit and tie, actually…

Complete the Story

This one sounds like it might be leading somewhere salacious…

Happy reading and writing today and every day!

Life, Writing

Current Status…

How is every one this month? I hope you all are doing great. I am super busy.

In exciting news, I have finished editing my fourth novel!!! Now, I am finalizing some other things (synopsis and query letter) before I start querying next week. I’m super excited and nervous! Wish me luck!

In other news, I am prepping and doing all the things I try to get done before NANOWRIMO starts. I don’t write extensive outlines, but I write out a very rough outline of the book from start to finish. I try to create the names for the main characters too (otherwise I get hung up on naming people and can’t seem to write).

As you can see, once again, I am participating in NANO, and this means next month is basically all booked for me.

I am a little behind at this point in the year as far as writing and some other personal goals go but I should be able to get caught up soon. Gotta keep trying, right?

Anyway, if you are participating in NANO, good luck!

Happy reading and writing today and every day!

Life, prompt, Writing

October 2022 Prompt

How is everyone doing? I’m once again trying to play catch up. I went on vacation the last week of September, and then when I arrived home, I was sick within two days. Since then, I’ve been in bed, watching tv, blowing my nose, and wishing I was writing. My head has been too foggy for editing though.

In happy news, I’m feeling much better today. Yesterday I made myself work on editing a bit. I’m a little behind on my list, but hopefully in the next few days I can catch up. And hopefully then I’ll also have time to get caught up on my short stories.

Anyway, I hope whatever you are working on is going well! If you are here for the prompt, look no further:

The doctors had never seen anything like it. She was a perfectly healthy little girl who just happened to have two hearts. The only explanation they could offer was…

Complete the Story

Happy reading and writing today and every day!

Life, Writing

Here are a few of my favorite (writing) things…

Writing and editing is a long, tough process, and I’m sure many of you know that as a writer, there is always room for improvement. And there is always room to learn a new skill. And sometimes you need to brush up on old ones.

Even though, I studied literature in college, that doesn’t mean my writing is anywhere near perfect. It just means I can analyze fiction (a mostly useless talent outside of academia).

Here are three things to keep in mind when you’re working on your own writing:

  • 1. Practice makes perfect.
  • 2. Sometimes you need to go back and review things you thought you knew.
  • 3. Have someone else read your work!!!! I cannot stress how important this is.
  • 4. Take some time to learn or study the craft of writing. Every year I read one or two books about writing. It’s nice to read what other writers have learned throughout their careers too.

In addition to practice being the best method of improvement, there are some other things that I use to help with my writing and editing process.

Here are a few of my writing/editing tools:

  1. Autocrit.com
    • This website allows you to submit your writing and it checks it for everything! It’s nice, but it’s still just a program. It doesn’t make up for reading and editing by humans.
  2. Understanding Show Don’t Tell
    • This book by Janice Hardy is a great resource for understanding the show don’t tell concept. When I first edited my own work, it was something I struggled with. It’s a challenging concept if you don’t know how to recognize it.
  3. Ready, Set, Novel!
    • This book was created for NANOWRIMO. I love it! I like to use it when I’m brainstorming a new project. The exercises are practical and build on each other. You can go from something very basic to a detailed outline in no time.
  4. Complete the Story
    • This book is page after page of story ideas. I use it to write my short story every month. It’s also where the original Unicorns Are Really Vampires (my first novel) idea started.

As always, happy reading and writing today and every day!

Life, prompt, Writing

September 2022 Prompt

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.

Happy reading and writing today and every day!

short story, Writing

Flying Bison aka Blimpies

August 2022’s short story of the month

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.  

Life, Writing

Trying Something New

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.

Anywho, hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Happy reading and writing today and every day!

prompt, Writing

August 2022 Prompt

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:

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…

Complete the Story

Now get to writing!

Happy reading and writing every day!

short story, Writing

Sally’s Sadness

July 2022’s short story of the month!

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.

She winced.

“You don’t know him.” She stood up from the table and went toward the patio door. “Leave me alone.”

Those were the last words she’d said to me.

short story, Writing

Just Breathe

(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?

Live.

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.