Vital Fluids, Photo Flash

I’m very excited, not only, to have recently finished a story and entered it in Enchanted Spark’s Photo Flash contest. I also won! Yay! These are generally fun short stories prompted by, or based on, a photo and are under 1,000 words. In the case of Vital Fluids, it was also inspired by the lack of air conditioning in my car.

Click here to read Vital Fluids.

Visit the rest of the beautiful EnchantedSpark.com website too. There are some really helpful tips for writers of fiction and super nice people. They have recipes, book reviews, and other fun and excellent short stories too!

Rustic Picnic, Reviving Bricks

The Daily Post’s daily prompt for July 8 is, Revivng Bricks:

You just inherited a dilapidated, crumbling-down grand mansion in the countryside. Assuming money is no issue, what do you do with it?

My schedule is fairly packed today, so my response will be short. I’ll fill out my ten-minutes of writing and be out.

With a dilapidated, crumbling-down grand mansion in the countryside, I would first get out my camera gear and tripod so that I may take extensive photos of the decaying building. The picture I’ve already formed in my head is full if texture – crumbling paint, splintered wood, patina on door knobs and sheet metal. I’d try to go at dawn and dusk to allow dreamy light to permeate interesting nooks and crannies. Capture the long stretch of light through dusty, curtainless windows.

I believe I’d pack a picnic lunch and large blanket or towel so I could relax nearby.

If the building is bad enough one my see it fall at any moment. I’ll set up my tripod and ready my camera before I eat.

If the building was somewhat more stable, I’ll see about what, if anything, could be salvaged. Could the mansion be repaired and renovated? At the very least is there an old wooden table standing strong in the vast kitchen? A little care and wood oil might reveal something stunning.

My home is being repaired now so repairs can and do happen on troubled structures. I would need to weigh the options.

In the case of abandoned buildings, I’ve heard they can stand for years. It is only when the roof goes very bad or collapses that inside rapidly falls to rot. Water returns all to dirt and soil.

In Your Face, Roaring Laughter

The Daily Prompt from the Daily Post for July 7, 2014 is Roaring Laughter:

What was the last thing that gave you a real, authentic, tearful, hearty belly laugh? Why was it so funny?

The last time I had a real, authentic, tearful, hearty belly laugh? That’s easy! It was Friday, July 4th. My daughter and I were invited to a friend’s house to try out some new games. We like games and we like our friends, so it’s already a good start.

One of the games they had was the Electronic Catch Phrase Decades Game. You can select from five decades — 1970s through 2010s. The liquid crystal display gives a set of “catch phrases” from that decade. These include expressions, songs, bands, famous people, etc. One person holds the machine and she or he gives clues so that the others can guess the “catch phrase.”

It was fun for the kids. They know the most recent decade or two. I discovered I’ve been living under a rock for the past thirty years.

I scored well for the 70s and 80s, but start to get pretty foggy around the 90s. I didn’t recognize many of the items from 2000s and 2010s at all. Forget about guessing! I can’t even provide clues. If they had catch phrases that focused on science fiction instead of pop culture from the 90s, 00s, and 10s, I may have faired a bit better.

So 70s and 80s I can manage! There were many belly laughs. I am totally uncoordinated when under timed pressure and playing guessing games.

One “catch phrase” was “In Your Face.” So I literally “got in” the other mom’s face. Inches away, I made some kind of grunting noise because I couldn’t think of any words. The other mom had no idea what to make of it. I think she thought I was just nuts. So then I came up with better clues and she worked it out. Then we laughed even harder because yeah.

I about died laughing when the other mom gave clues for me to guess “Berry White.” She imitated him excellently. “Can’t get enough of your love, baby.” It was as if he was being channelled right through a forty-something mom. I was laughing so hard I almost couldn’t say “Berry White.”

The kids lost interest in the 70s and 80s and were jumping on the trampoline by then.

Good times.

The Simplest Writing Advice

I very much like this post from Fiction All Day. In fact, I think I’ll use this opportunity to try to “reblog.” This is my first attempt at reblogging, so apologies in advance if I somehow manage to break WordPress.

Story Life

Writers are an incredibly insecure group of people.  It’s true.  I’m even insecure about writing about our insecurities – what if people get upset about it?  (If you did, sorry).  But the fact is that we are very insecure, and an extension of that fact is that it isn’t an insult. In many way it actually makes a lot of sense. Fiction is hard to judge (people are entitled to their own opinion, unless, of course, it’s just plain wrong), it’s often difficult for writers to tell if they’re getting better, and each piece of writing takes so long to finish and is so time consuming that it’s not easy to finish it on faith alone.  And while each book you write might make you a better writer, it might take two or three (read: a ton) of them for your improvement to be noticeable.  Because of all this, confidence is something that…

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Love, Generous Genies

Today’s July 6 prompt from the Daily Post is, Generous Genies.

Remember those lovely genies who grant wishes? Well, you’re one and you’ve just been emancipated from your restrictive lamp. You can give your three wishes to whomever you want. Who do you give your three wishes to, and why?

I always have questions on these assignments. I suppose it’s to keep them vague enough that bloggers may interpret them as we see fit. These are for inspiration, not strict classroom assignments.

With that in mind, I’ll give these three wishes to multiple people. Let’s say they find the lamp together freeing me, the genie.

So I’d grant three wishes to my daughter, my super guy, and that leaves one more. That’s trickier.

I’d pick my daughter because after she gets over the initial shock of finding that her mom is a genie in a bottle who can grant wishes, I trust that she’ll make a good choice. She has a good heart. I’d instruct her to give the wish careful consideration, and to wait quite a few years before actually using it. I trust that she would follow these instructions. Oh sure, she’ll think about all the cool stuff she could wish for, but she’ll be discerning in the end.

My guy for pretty much the same reasons as our daughter, and he better like my genie costume because my daughter will probably think I look a little silly.

That leaves one more. I’m leaning toward giving a second wish to my daughter, just because. I would instruct her to seek good council on using this wish. But then it’s her wish, not mine.

I keep trying to think of some other person upon whom I might grant a wish. Perhaps a scientist who would fix the ills of our physical world or peer into the mysteries of the universe to ensure the survival of humankind. A peacemaker who would grant world peace. A humanitarian who would feed the hungry. A doctor who wold cure our diseases. A religious leader who might ensure all souls of the world feel love in their hearts and thus are not lost in the eyes of God?

But I don’t personally know most of these humans. I’d be taking my chances on what they might actually do with their wish.

It’s easy to want to fix many things. I’d want the wishes to leave the world in a better place, but there are many good intentions that didn’t go so well in the end. Whom to trust? People I know and love. Hopefully I would do them no harm by giving them this power,

Cat Soup and Towels, An Odd Trio, But Only for Some

The Daily Post’s prompt for July 5 is, An Odd Trio

Today, you can write about whatever you what — but your post must include, in whatever role you see fit, a cat, a bowl of soup, and a beach towel.

I’m happy to have these daily posts and how exactly I’ll work a cat, a bowl of soup, and a beach towel into these post remains to be seen as I type.

Looking around our home, it’s not that hard to see these three things. I don’t even need much in the way of imagination for these seemingly unconnected items.

I suppose that by owning two cats, it gives me a bit of a head start on cat-less bloggers. I like our cats. I like dogs too, but I don’t really know how dog owners manage without a larger home and a yard. Yet, we have neighbors who somehow manage just that.

We like soup and it can be quick and easy for humans with a busy schedule. It’s a light meal by itself, but pair it with a quick sandwich and you’ve got yourself a full-fledge meal. Yum! Our soup often awaits mealtime in a cupboard sitting in cans, not bowls until we’re actually eating it. By coincidence our cats await mealtime by the same cupboard when they’re not staring at us or yelping at us to feed them.

The cats are like clocks as far as mealtime goes. Even with hardly any daylight coming inside, the cats somehow still manage to tell time.

In the soup category. Get it, CAT-egory? We also like Ramen. To be fair, it’s not the healthiest option, but quick, easy, inexpensive. And we can doctor it up for added nutrition by adding frozen veggies and egg. If you don’t add the full seasoning packet, you’ll cut back on the amount of salt. There are lots of other ways to add flavor — garlic power, hot peppers, herbs.

Sometimes I even make homemade soup and freeze it. We have a Crock-pot type of slow cooker that makes fantastic broth. There’s something to be said for the benefits of slow cooking. Put it on in the morning before I leave for work, and there’s a meal when I get home.

I did not forget about that beach towel. While we don’t have a beach nearby we’ve actually managed a pool membership this year. Finally! And with the dark interior of our home, it could not have come at a better time. We enjoy our sunshine. And we’re making full use of all our beach towels. So I feel like the washing machine is going close to 24/7 keeping up with washing and drying ’em. OK, maybe not really 24/7, more like 3/3. Three hours, three days a week. Maybe four depending on our schedule.

The cats rather like the beach towels too. Without fail if I leave out a freshly laundered beach towel, there’s sure to be a cat on it soon unless I quickly move it out of harms way. They’re happy to add to the fluffy softness and warm ’em up for us when they’re done licking our soup bowls.

Friends, Family, Yummy Food: It’s Your Party

The Daily Post’s prompt for July 4th is:

Since many are marking their country’s “birthday” in the US today, we wanted to ask: How do you celebrate yours? Are you all for a big bash, or more of a low-key birthday boy/girl?

I’m not 100% sure if they mean how do I celebrate the 4th of July, the birthday of my country, or how do I celebrate my birthday. Since there are bloggers from all over the world, who probably don’t celebrate the fourth unless it also happens to be their birthday, I think they mean how do I celebrate my birthday.

I wish I had a more interesting answer, but I usually celebrate without huge fanfare. We have busy schedules, so instead of stressing ourselves by trying to go out for dinner on my actual birthday, we tend to celebrate a birthday week or, sometimes, month. A day close to our actual day that will work with our schedule is free game. We pick a yummy restaurant with food we like – sushi, fusion, Chinese, contemporary salads, seafood casserole, something spicy … I’m making myself hungry just thinking about it. We dine with family and sometimes friends. If it’s a big milestone birthday, then we dine with more friends. I’d dine with friends all the time if I had my druthers. I don’t mind going out multiple times for a birthday week or month, but it’s usually just once. I like to indulge in something extra yummy like a decadent dessert with caramel or extra chocolate (or both). And I’ve been known to eat ice cream or birthday cake for breakfast. Yum! Happy taste buds!

Strike a Chord: A Yellow Cello

The Daily Post’s prompt is, “Strike a Chord.”

Do you play an instrument? Is there a musical instrument which you find particularly pleasing? Tell us a story about your experience or relationship with an instrument of your choice.

If I could add another thing to the post from two days ago, “Something New, Back of the Queue,” it would be to learn an instrument. Playing music on something other than a record, cassette, CD, or MP3 player is something I never learned.

When I was in fourth grade, I started clarinet at school, but one squeak too many, and I was done. I purchased a plastic ocarina, and managed “Happy Birthday” following the instructions on the back of the packaging. I’m sure I just need more practice.

So when my daughter came home from the “instrument petting zoo” at school and told us she like to play the cello, I was pleased. I really enjoy the sound of the cello. It’s easier on the ears than violin when kids are just learning, and I didn’t have to worry that she’d inherit my talent for squeaking on a woodwind instrument. We have neighbors to think about. So, cello!

I love the meditative sound it can produce. It’s as if it can pick up the hum of the earth and play a tune with it. Even for beginners, it’s not at all unpleasant, and I truly enjoy hearing my daughter practice.

We’re renting a 1/2 cello, and somehow ended up with one that’s more a lovely shade of yellow than the amber brown of most. We should really get a larger size, but the 1/2 has been easier for taking on a school bus. And we’ve grown very fond of the yellow.

My daughter has been playing at school for three years now. And I’m looking forward to what the next will bring.

Exits and Wrong Turns

Today’s Yesterday’s Daily Prompt is Wrong Turns.

When was the last time you got lost? Was it an enjoyable experience, or a stressful one? Tell us about it.

Somehow by getting up early, I’m a day late with The Daily Posts. As I start this, today’s post is not yet up. Here goes yesterday’s.

I’m not fond of getting lost. It feels too close to senility. Where am I? How did I get here? Oddly enough sometimes it’s not all that bad and maybe a little fun.

My daughter and I attended the Science & Engineering Festival at the DC Convention Center earlier this year. Parking downtown is a challenge and expensive. We took the Metro. Normally I’m fairly confident with my Metro skills. Look at a map, have a Trip Card, hop on, hop off. Boom, we’re there. Easy, right?

It’s all fine until you miss your stop on a crowded train. Trains do that to tourists so often, I almost think it’s on purpose. I feel sorry for them when a large group is trying to detrain together. I know there’s no way they’ll all exit before the doors close. Those doors stop for no one, so you better be out of the way. When it happened to us, I felt embarrassed. The doors seemed to close extra quickly that day. Really.

I thought it would be a simple matter of hopping off the train, crossing to the other side, and getting on a train going back to our desired station. But when we ran to the other side, we found it completely closed off. At this point I felt doomed. No train going back? We’re trapped!

Turns out they were doing repair work to the tracks on one side of the station. A commuter more familiar with this particular station told us we needed to go to the other side. “But that’s the side we just came from!” I explained to her as if that would fix everything. Was that panic that just spewed from my mouth?

Back we plodded. As we stood on the platform I realized that if we’d only stayed on our original train, it would have reversed directions from that very spot thus returning us to our desired destination with no effort at all on our part.

My daughter and I laughed as we realized how much panic and running around we’d done only to find that doing absolutely nothing would have been more efficient. Sometimes it’s the journey, not the destination.

Destinations aren’t bad either. The Convention Center was a short ride further. Once at the center, we were supposed to call friends so that we might meet up with each other. If you’ve never been, the Science & Engineering Festival is humungous. This year it took up the entire Convention Center — the area of several city blocks and two floors. How will we find our friends?

We called only to discover our friends were standing within a few yards of us. We saw each other and waved. Yay! Yay! And serious yay.

This was a day of things turning around — one we won’t quickly forget. And the Festival was fun too.

Something New, Back of the Queue

With June’s Writing 101 ending, I like the idea of a daily prompt even if I don’t finish an actual post every time. I’m still trying to finish some of those I started for Writing 101. In the meantime, I really like this daily stuff and want to stick to my ten minute pledge. So seeing as The Daily Post has good ol’ daily prompts too, I’m going to give that a whirl.

I think this is actually yesterday’s prompt and that today’s is not yet up. The prompt is:

Back of the Queue

Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, but never got around to starting (an activity, a hobby, or anything else, really)? Tell us about it — and tell us about what’s keeping you from doing it.

This seems like a really appropriate prompt because I would say that I always wanted to write and hadn’t gotten around to doing it regularly for a long time. It’s not that I never did it. I’ve done it in some form since I was a kid. But I would often start and not keep up or not finish. I’ve started many more short stories than finished — all those poor characters just hanging there in unfinished lives! Unfinished worlds. I’d probably make a sucky god.

Before I knew what “blogs” were, I had a little website on the original AOL back when they actually offered web space. I’d try to update with little bits of thought and a few pictures. It was fine, but didn’t happen on a regular basis. Uploading to AOL was a bear! Blogs, actual blogs, make that easier. I started a blog on Blogspot, but it seemed kludgey too. Then I turned to WordPress. I like it better. But it’s hard to juggle writing with everything else when you’re a busy working mom with an active kiddo. So writing tended to get pushed to the back burner — a lot. I finally realized that time’s not going to just plop itself in my lap and say “lets go for a ride.” I’m going to have to grab it by the nape of the neck and make time even if it’s just little bits of time.

Last year I started to actually finish some stories. And now I’ve been updating my blog more regularly. My New Years resolution for 2014 was to blog daily, but I quickly realized that that wasn’t very realistic. I could manage several times a week, though, and then not beat myself up if I don’t get it done. So again, I like these daily prompts and just writing every day makes it much easier to continue writing when I want to work on a story. I still need to work on actually finishing them. My endings, the few of them I have, need work.

Wait, does this technically count for “something I always wanted to do but didn’t?” I’m actually doing it now, right? Kind of?

Well I’ve never been to Disneyland or Disney World either. I’d like to go. My parents never took me, and I’ve pass the practice on to  my daughter. We do hope to go! Maybe next year. Time and money have been an issue. Not that we’ve never been to amusement parks. Just not anything Disney. This year it’s even trickier to find the time. With repairs still going strong on our home, this summer is a bad time to leave for more than a few days. So I’m trying to look at next year as a very solid maybe. Go us!

P.S. I really like the word, “queue.” Who would have thought of putting all those vowels in a row and adding a ‘q’ to the front? It looks so complicated and sounds so simple.

 

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