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Prompt Group: Snowboarders and Sunrises

12 Feb

Hello readers!

This is the first time in a while that I’ve written a post only hours before it’s posted and I’m nervous about it. I don’t have a night to sleep on it and fix everything in the morning so my feet are sweating. Ahh!

Last night my prompt group met and we did three prompts. I’ll share what we did, but I’m not going to share my first prompt, I’m not overly proud of it. If you want to do these prompts as well, please pingback so I can read them. I love seeing the different directions people take a prompt.

  1. The cars killed the trains and the buses died of depression (3 minutes)
  2. The ice skater that dated the snowboarder learned of an unexpected secret. (5 minutes)
  3. Blueberry sunrise (4 minutes)

My Responses

Prompt #2

There are things you just don’t want to know about people. Like take for example when people found out that the actor who plays Chandler from Friends went through weight fluctuations because of a drug addiction. Did you want to know that? No, but now you can never forget it. It was in this sense that I learned Shawn White picked his nose and wiped it on the bottom of competitors’ boards when they weren’t looking.

“You’re serious? Like, that’s a thing?”

“Well, yeah. It’s his power trip. You remember the swimmer who spit in the other lanes? Well, it’s kinda like that.”

“Did he do it to you?”

James shuddered. “It’s better not to think about it.”

The next time I went to one of his competitions, I was determined to catch Shawn in the act. I hovered near the team equipment areas, pretending I was watching over James’s things while he warmed up, but, well, you know what I was really looking for.

And it’s true! I saw it. He walked around while everyone else was warming up, wiping his green gold all over the undersides of the boards. What was I supposed to do?

“Hey!” I yelled out as he walked toward James’s board. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

He stopped, staring at me wide-eyed. I guess no one had stopped him in the act before, only watched to report out to unsuspecting strangers later.

“I, um…” He only faltered for a second. “What are you doing here? Only participants and coaches are allowed.”

“My boyfriend’s a rider.”

He eyed me slyly. “You’re Jamie’s girl, aren’t you? You look like a little figure skater. Is it true what they say about figure skaters? About how flexible you can be?”

My face flushed. This damned tomato was not going to make me feel like a fool. “Is it true what they say about you, wiping your nose on other people’s boards?”

Prompt #3

It’s that time of the morning when the sun is just about to breast the horizon but is still thinking about not coming up at all. That split second when it’s the brightest you’ve ever seen and the sun isn’t even up yet. It has a way of affecting the sky around it, bringing the baby blue of the morning sky and the dark black of night together, blending them into a deep, rich blueberry. This isn’t a time of the morning I normally experience.

It’s beautiful to see it stretched in front of me on the long, lonely highway of Nebraska. The car is humming steadily under me and I tap my thumb on the steering wheel to a song that doesn’t exist. ‘Happy,’ I think to myself. ‘This is what other people call happy.’

A smile creeps across my face the way the blueberry sunrise steaks across the horizon as I chase the sun to South Carolina. Before I’m done I’ll seen another sunset but before the sun rises again, I’ll be home. Maybe this time I can see some sunrises instead of always leaving them behind. Maybe I can stop driving away.

 

Until next time, Reader, write on.

Prompt Group: Book Plot, Gangs, and Disney Villains

17 Jan

I went to my prompt group last night for the first time in almost a month. It’s crazy how awesome it was to see everyone. It was only Sonia and I from the Novel Girls and by the way, you can check out Sonia’s blog here. I’ll give you the prompts first and then give you my responses. If you want to do the prompts, please link back here so I can read what you wrote!

Prompts:

1. Write the title of a hypothetical book and the synopsis that goes with it (2 minutes)

  • Most of us thought this would be good practice to do during October to prepare for NaNoWriMo next year.

2. Write a short justification of the thought process of a Disney villain (5 minutes).

My Responses

  1. Penguins, Pot, and Paraguas
    John has always wanted to touch a penguin. It’s a childhood ambition that drove him to study zoology and take an internship on an Antarctic expedition. Finally within the reach of his un-flying aviary dreams, he meets Tomas, a Swedish sea-captain who befriends him and invites John to long sessions of ‘just hanging out’ in the hull of the boat. When his internship supervisor dispels him from the expedition days before they set off for the final leg, John is stranded in Johannesburg without a way to get back to his home in North Carolina. He has two months to kill and gets a job working for a Spanish immigrant in a tourist shop that only sells umbrellas.
  2. Cruella de Vil. (Written as a transcript of her civil suit trial)
    I think this case is focusing less on the issue of if stealing was wrong and more on the moral side of if killing 101 puppies for their fur is wrong. I want to redirect the jury’s attention to the decision of the law at hand and not the subject of my client’s moral fiber. She is no worse than yourself or your mother. Let’s be honest, Miss de Vil motivated by the same thing must humans are: money. She’s not seeing cute little Dalmatian puppies; she’s seeing dollar signs in their spots. We’ve all heard of puppy mills and seen ASPCA commercials that make us want to cry but the true reason they still exist is because someone can make a buck off of little Fido. So Miss de Vil is no worse than those men at the pound who you called to take away the scared little kitty you found in your back yard and though you think it’s cute, you’re still afraid it has rabies. In a culture that values entrepreneurship, why are Americans passing judgment on one of their own; a capitalist trying to pick herself up by her bootstraps and make a decent living. Shame on those who shun her. They can go have fair trade coffee at Starbucks while wearing Tom’s shoes and talking about volunteering in Namibia while secretly swearing to themselves they will never go to Namibia. Look at yourselves and think; wouldn’t you do the same?

I hope you enjoy, let me know how your prompts go. Happy writing!

Prompt Group: Character Development Exercise

5 Dec

After a hiatus for NaNoWriMo, I finally returned to my prompt writing group. We did an exercise about character development that I liked. I might be able to turn this into a short story? I’m not sure I want to? Is it obvious I’m hesitant?

Here’s the exercise for you all if you want to try it. I’ll include my answers and writing at the end. If you give this a go, please let me know if it worked for you and if so, how it went.

Step 1: Take five minutes and write descriptions of two characters. What’s their name, age, occupation, hair color, eye color, quick personality traits, etc. Probably about four lines each.

Step 2: In three minutes, write down what each person wants, either long or short-term, that they will work for. What’s their motivation?

Step 3: Answer the following questions about each character.

  • What is their greatest virtue?
  • What is their greatest weakness?
  • What angers him/her the most?
  • What is he/she afraid of?
  • What is his/her secret?
  • What is his/her biggest regret?
  • What is his/her attitude toward:
    • Love?
    • Death?
    • Religion?
    • Money?
    • Politics?

Step 4: Once you’ve done this for both characters, take fifteen minutes to write a scene between the two characters.

Got it? Now do it. My answers are below.

Character 1
Jamie. 32-year-old, lives alone, Engineer. Sandy blonde hair, average height. Brown eyes. One solid friend, Aaron. Bachelor-pad apartment. Clean-ish. Likes music, especially 80s rock.
Goal: Save enough money to move to Ireland. wants to quit to work at a recording studio there.

  • Greatest virtue? Truthfulness
  • Greatest weakness? Single-minded
  • Angers him? Interrupted music
  • Afraid of? Being an engineer forever
  • His secret? Afraid to commit to anything
  • His biggest regret? Not majoring in music
  • His attitude toward:
    • Love? Blaise. If it happens, okay. Not actively seeking it.
    • Death? Only after a long life
    • Religion? Be a good person
    • Money? Saving it, he’s cheap
    • Politics? No opinion as long as it doesn’t interfere with his travel plans.

Character 2
Tom. 59-year-old Banker. Divorced, 25-year-old daughter lives in town. Male pattern baldness, wears grey suits to work
Goal: Retire to Florida and be alone.

  • Greatest virtue? Hard-working
  • Greatest weakness? Cynical
  • Angers him? His own failure.
  • Afraid of? His daughter not loving him.
  • His secret? Goes to visit prostitutes because he’s lonely
  • His biggest regret? Daughter having to live through his divorce.
  • His attitude toward:
    • Love? It doesn’t exist.
    • Death? “He who dies with the most toys wins.”
    • Religion? Strongly against. Ex-Christian.
    • Money? It’s his job. It comes easily to him so he spends liberally.
    • Politics? ‘Angry Republican’

And finally, my scene:

Jamie felt his car jolt from behind. He groaned aloud, already summing up how much this would put him behind in his savings. He put on his blinker and pulled onto the next side street. The road was slick and he’d been dreading being rear-ended all winter and his bitterness was already stored up, waiting for this moment.

The car that pulled up behind him was a nice, slick BMW. He rationed to himself that someone with such a nice car was sure to have insurance as he reached into the glovebox for his own. The man who stepped out had a sour look on his face as he marched to his front fender to inspect the damage. Jamie got out of his Mazda and joined him to stare at their collision.

“It’s not terrible,” the man said, looking at Jamie’s bumper.

“It’s hanging off of the car!”

“But at least it’s only your car. Mine’s fine.” It was true, his bumper had buckled, but it would pop out and with some touch-up paint no one would ever know.

“Can I have your insurance? I’ll have to replace the bumper and I need to have it covered.”

“On that piece of junk?” the man looked the Mazda over, taking in its rust stains and dingy cloth seats inside. “Couldn’t you just replace it?”

Jamie shook his head. He didn’t want to explain that the car was only needed for another two years before he left the US for good. “I don’t need a new car, I just need a new bumper.” He offered up his own insurance card as a sort of peace-offering. “I can give you my information if you need it.”

“Is everything alright, dad?”

Jamie looked up and for the first time realized there was a passenger in the BMW. The girl had raven black hair and she looked frustrated.

“Just stay in the car, Katherine.” He shot her an annoyed glance before she rolled her eyes and closed the door, shivering at the outside cold. “Here’s my card,” he extended it toward Jamie. “Can you take down my information in your phone?” Jamie nodded and pulled his phone out of his pocket, flipping it open and finding the notes app. “Jesus Christ, son, you still have a flip phone? Are you stuck in the stone age?”

“It gets me through,” Jamie said, starting to grit his teeth. “What’s your name?”

 

How did yours turn out? Was this exercise helpful? Leave a comment and let me know.

I hate to ask, but if you could spare the seconds to click over to my Facebook Fan Page (link on the right) I’d appreciate it. I’m three people away from being able to see analytics! Thanks, guys.

Until next time, write on.

Prompt Group: Vessel of Place, Using Other Senses, and a few Tips

10 Oct

Time for my prompt group yet again!  We did some exercises this time that were not exactly prompts, but were designed to teach us to write better.  The first was one my friend MB did at a writer’s conference.  It was: Imagine a situation with a strong emotion attached to it and pick an object to describe it.  This is called Vessel of Place, a way of saying that an object can have more emotional memory attached to it than the memory of an event.  (I hope that makes sense.)

The second one was a two part exercise.  We first were instructed to describe a place we had recently visited.    The second part was to use other senses.  Specifically, we had to take out all references to sight.  Mine didn’t have that much, so I worked instead to add more senses into the prose.  I’m including only the second here.  Please criticize me if I used too many visual references.

The final prompt was to take an object from the second prompt and do another vessel of place exercise with it.

Please post your exercises as well!  I’d love to see them.  I’m posting my responses below and then will end this post with some brief writing tips we went over.

Prompt 1

The wine glass was half filled so by default it was half emptied.  I stared at it and saw the reflections of the lights from around the dining room glaring back at me and hurting my eyes.  Looking through it, I could see him sitting on the other side of the table, his own glass of wine in his hand.  He swirled it around and around, mixing the sweet wine with a bitter bite to it.  I took a drink myself and what had previously seemed sweet and aromatic now seemed bitter and ashen.  It was funny how a few words could change the taste of a vintage wine.

I’m not certain but I’m pretty sure I lost more than my taste for wine that night.  The glass slowly drained in the same way the life slowly drained out of him.  What was before savory had turned ashen.  Link the life blood draining out of him as he left this world, the red wine into my mouth and disappeared forever.  The reflections in the glass faded as the night ended and the light in his eyes slowly went out over months of illness.

The pattern on the tablecloth that night reflected strangely in the base of my wine glass and looked like a cross.  I now believe it was a plus sign.  It was telling me, “It’s a plus that you’re with him now.  It’s a plus that you get to see this happen to him before it happens to you.”  But it was a plus for HIV positive, which is always a negative.

Prompt 2, Part 2

The ground was soft and muddy.  Most of the sites had ground the consistency of a baby’s diaper and the ones that weren’t were none too common.  When we finally found a place, the rain let up just enough to make us brave enough to venture out of the car.  Only one site had both a grille and a fireplace, both critical things in our opinion that the site director didn’t seem to find important.  A square of flat land had a few sticks that we threw into the woods so that they wouldn’t poke us in the back all night.  We should have considered that we’d want them later for firewood.  My husband opened the trunk and we got out the small tent, only then realizing that I’d forgotten the big tent at home.  This isn’t exactly what you want to realize 3.5 hours from home when you’re on a budget camping trip.

$106 later we were back with the roomiest tent in the site and were happily setting up for our other friends to arrive.  The sun was finally coming through the clouds and the humidity started to dip below 100%.

Prompt 3

The car smelled like a wet dog.  The carpets had mud rubbed into them from the college friends who didn’t bother to wipe their boots after hiking.  I found an entire McDonalds meal under the passenger’s seat.  It seems someone didn’t listen when I asked them to take their trash out when we left the car.

The squished bug on the inside of the back windshield will still be there six months later and the smell of spilt beer will never really leave the trunk.  The back seat still smells like river and the driver’s seat will always feel like shiver exasperation at the follies of men and boys.  I saw the ‘emergency tent’ we bought when I went to put my summer beach bag away for the winter.  It reminded me that even if you forget the shelter, you can remember to bring over 5 gallons of beer, as long as you have your priorities straight.  That’s enough return money to buy another 12 pack, in case you’re interested.

 

A Few Tips

I won’t be too long winded here, but we discussed a few tips and techniques for writers to utilize.  The first tip was to start with a list of names so that it’s easy to grab a name for a throw-away character while writing and you don’t have to stop and look around for one.  One member of our group suggested BehindtheName.com to look for names based on origin and meaning.  I’ve used this site for a piece I’m working on and it’s very helpful, I highly recommend it as well.

The second is something most writers know already; that every detail about your character and the words they say should give meaning to the character.  For example, I can say that Joe ate breakfast.  All that says is that Joe’s hungry.  If I say Joe ate a cold Poptart, you might think “Joe’s in a hurry and a bachelor.”  If I say that Joe had bacon and eggs you will probably think “Joe’s a family man with a wife who wakes up really early.”  Either way, the detail of what he ate tells you who Joe is.  All details should tell us about the character.

The third trick might sound like my earlier post about strong language, but it’s not to use ‘lazy’ words.  For example, everyone wears shoes.  ‘Shoe’ is a lazy word.  A woman wears stilettos or boots.  A child wears tennis shoes, a grandpa wears Oxfords.  ‘Shoe’ is a lazy word that doesn’t give us much description.  Someone can be ‘nice,’ but it’s better if they’re friendly or pleasant.  Try to stay away from very general words when a stronger noun would do better.

The last is one that I think is critical for good characterization and it’s to use a ‘language bank’ for each character.  We each have a vocabulary that’s uniquely our own and when we speak we say something differently than someone else would say it.  Also, individuals have phrases that they use a lot that another person might never use.  My example of this is Jay Gatsby who always says ‘old sport.’  Once it’s established that Gatsby is the one saying this, Fitzgerald could even leave off dialogue tags because the reader knew that was part of Gatsby’s vernacular.  I plan to do this with my WIP characters.  I want to take any scene in which a character talks and put the dialogue into one document.  It should read almost like a stream of consciousness from that character and individual quirks about how the person talks should be evident in each one.

I hope these tips are useful to you.  Please leave a comment and let me know or leave a comment with your own tip.  Thanks for reading. 🙂

Prompt Group: Wyoming and a picture

27 Sep

Every other Tuesday is my prompt group!  This time around, I liked what I did for the prompts.  Instead of posting what I wrote, I’m going to post the prompts first.  If you want to, write them!  You can leave a comment or do a pingback so I know to go read your writing.

  1. The stark, bleak wastelands of Wyoming (3 minutes)
  2. This image:
Prompt picture

Picture provided by Suleman, I’m not sure where it came from.

All right, now that you’ve done that, here’s what I wrote.  I hope we came up with some completely different stuff.

  1. Well, this is where the buffalo roam and the deer and antelope play.  If only a discouraging word could be heard seldom.  Instead, my mother keeps telling my baby brother to calm down and we’re bound to find a bathroom soon.  Though, it seems unlikely since we haven’t seen a person in an hour and then it was some uber-psyco cyclist with seven gallons of water in her saddlebags and a ham radio strapped on the back.
  2. No matter how low I crouch, there are always those smaller than me.  No matter how small I feel, there will always be those lower.  It’s a funny thing in life, that you are never the bottom of the barrel.  There’s always someone lower down, someone looking up to you thinking “Dang, i wish I was where that guy is.”
    This time, they were physically shorter than me.  Their whole lives, the twins had wished they were taller, were able to see over lunch counters, could sit on a bench without jumping first.  And myself?  Well, I despised my height.  Always looking down on people from a height I didn’t want.  I had to duck through doorways, pretend I wanted to wear shorts all year long, and hope the celing was high enough in a hotel shower.
    No matter how low I got, I was never lower than them, figuratively and literally.  Their height brought them down the way mine did.  It’s funny when you’re at extremes of the spectrum, you see the middle in the same light.

How did these prompts go for you?

Daily Prompt: Service

19 Sep

I haven’t been inspired by a Daily Prompt for a while, but this one is getting some creative juices flowing!  Like yesterday, please comment!  Let me know if my dreams are hopeless or at least what I can do to be a better writer.  I’m going to be out of town for the weekend but when I get back I’ll have a Novel Girls post and a book review to post.  Something to look forward to.

This snippet is based on a character from my first WIP, June.

Daily Prompt: Service

June’s favorite part of the day was after the food was cooked and simmering in the industrial sized pots.  She was sweating and covered in grime, but she usually got a five minute break before the workers started coming to her kitchen.  She had timed it right that day and was sitting on a small stool, giving her feet a break from her weight, when the first children raced to get in line.

The children always came first, racing from the fields and competing to be the first in line.  June usually gave the winner a little something extra, like the biggest slice of bread, but she would also give it to the last child to arrive.  She wanted the children to know they were all worth a little something special.

They called her Miss June and she loved to hear their voices singing to her as they made the mad dash to get in line.  “Miss June!  Miss June!  Did you make soda bread, Miss June?  Is there meat in the soup today, Miss June?  I’m first, Miss June, give me some extra cornbread!”

After the children, the elderly workers showed up.  The supervisors in the field usually let them go first because they walked so slowly, but the children were fast enough to pass them on their way to the kitchen.  After two years, June knew her regular customers and what they would eat.  Mr. O’Conner had no teeth so he got extra soup and no bread.  Mrs. Williamson couldn’t eat anything hot, so June set her soup aside early to cool.  They each smiled and thanked her warmly, nowhere near as pleading as the children.

The women were next, out of courtesy.  June saw the defeat of their position written in the faces.  Many of them were like her; having grown up middle class, their lives were reduced to nothing after the stock market crashed.  She didn’t degrade them with a smile and a pep-talk; they knew as well as she did that these were the worst of times and were only getting worse.  Many of them saved their bread to feed to their children before bed when their stomachs started to grumble again.  June wished she could make more and send them back to work full but it was out of her control.

The men came last, quiet and somber.  They took their hats off to her and she could see the line the sun drew across their foreheads.  Of course, there were a few that were friendly and talkative.

“Afternoon, Miss June,” Jim Boyle always said.  She answered with a polite “Afternoon,” and a smile every day.

“Thank you, ma’am,” Mr. Gambo always said.  June gave him a larger piece of bread because his wife was at home, sick with child and didn’t get fed while she didn’t work.

Marco Amato never said anything; he stared with deep blue eyes that reminded her of Tony.  It made her look away to see those eyes, ones she thought she knew so well, staring at her every day.  Hearing his voice for the first time startled her.  He had a thick Italian accent and she almost didn’t understand him.

“Why you look sad at me, Miss June?”

She cast her eyes down.  “You remind me of someone.”

“A lover?”  Thinking of Tony as her lover made June blush.  “I think that I spoke bad,” he recovered.  “A man that you loved?”

“Yes,” she said with a sad smile.  “Please don’t be offended.  You have the same eyes.”

He grinned.  “You loved an Italian man?”

“Yes, very much.”  She didn’t bother to tell him she still loved an Italian man.  That night, June wrote Tony a letter, explaining why she was sad whenever she saw Marco, but it was a letter she could never send.

Marco continued to talk to her every day, his English becoming clearer and his sentences better formed.  Over time she forgot to be sad when she saw him coming.  But if she looked him in the eye, she could only see Tony staring back at her.

Write Now Prompt: Clouds

18 Sep

I’m going to take some liberties with the Write Now Prompt from yesterday.  It made me think of my NaNo novel in a roundabout way.

I’ve noticed, dear reader(s) that you aren’t much on commenting when I do prompts.  Are you too afraid to tell me I’m terrible and should give up my aspirations of being published?  Nonsense, I’m waiting for the trolling!  Please tell me what you think of this character and this sample.  This is not from my NaNo story necessarily, but is based on it.  Enjoy!

Prompt: The dark clouds rolled in quickly, casting strange shadows across the landscape.

Melissa stared absentmindedly out of the bus window.  The sun set earlier and earlier this time of year.  It was almost that fabled time all Alaskans talk about when the days are shorter than the nights, all leading up to days with no daylight.  Melissa could not say she looked forward to that with any anticipation.

As the sun set quickly, the shadows danced across the lawns on the side of the road.  She watched them become longer and longer until the sun was behind the horizon and it was pointless to look out of the window: she could only see her reflection.

There was only one other person left on the bus when Melissa got off at her stop.  The two had never exchanged words, but had an unspoken relationship as the two who took the same bus every Wednesday.  They exchanged friendly nods in passing and Melissa missed his smile when she was alone on the pavement heading to her grandma’s house.

She’d been in Fairbanks for about two months and was still not used to the bone chilling wind that came after the sun set.  Wrapping her scarf around her nose, Melissa leaned into the wind to offset the weight of her grocery-filled backpack.  The walk wasn’t long, but it gave her enough time to think over all the things that had to happen before her child was born.  She could feel the life inside her and instead of evoking excitement, it felt like a ticking time bomb getting ready to explode.  There were cribs to buy, diapers to learn how to change, and a house to baby-proof without moving things around too much.

The small ranch house came into view as Melissa rounded the corner and walked past her neighbor Julie’s house.  She could see the glow of the TV inside and the shadow of Julie on her treadmill walking in step to the beat of a reality singing show.  Seeing the show reminded her of her parents back in Georgia and how they would always rope her into watching with them.  She had disliked how viewers were encouraged to place so much hope in singers who had only the thinnest chances of ever selling a song in iTunes.  Melissa didn’t like having her emotions toyed with by a host in a sparkling suit.

She put the key in the lock and opened the door slowly, wondering what her grandma would call her.  The day before she had been Melissa, but just that morning she had been Janine, her mother’s name.

“You’re late, Melissa!” her grandma called from the kitchen.  “You’re never this late on Mondays.”

“It’s Wednesday.”

Her grandma didn’t respond.  She got embarrassed when her memory failed her.  Melissa knew that things were only going to get worse.

Melissa found her grandma sitting in front of the TV in the living room watching the same reality show Julie was sweating to.  It made her smile to see her grandma watching the same shows as her daughter.  Or was it the other way around?

“I’ll make dinner,” Melissa called over her shoulder as she headed into her bedroom to change, dropping her shopping by the kitchen door.

“Thanks, Janine,” her grandma said.  Melissa was too happy to correct her.

 

So now it’s time to interact, reader(s).  What could I have done better?  What did you like?  Please leave a comment and let me know.

Daily Inspiration: Acrobatics

15 Sep

I didn’t care much for the Daily Prompt today, but luckily I found Daily Inspiration and their prompt helped me think of a scene.  It was a rather simple one, “Describe an acrobatic scene.”  This takes from the female protagonist in my first WIP after the main action of the novel.  Enjoy!

There wasn’t much else to do the weekend the circus came to town.  Everyone else was going and David begged and begged for June to take him.  She wasn’t one to deny her nephew what he wanted, especially when it sparked her curiosity as well.  One day when John and Dot were at work, she gold David to put his shoes on because they were going to the circus.

His little eyes were wide the second the big top came into sight.  He wanted to see, touch, taste, and smell everything within the circus’s fence: the bearded woman, the tigers, the small stand selling popcorn.  June was afraid his little heart would stop when the ringmaster walked past them.

“Say, young man, are you enjoying yourself today?” he asked David, even though it must have been clear he was with how big the young boy’s smile was.

David nodded, too excited to reply.

“And have you seen the acrobats yet?  They’re the best part of the circus.”

The small boy looked up at his aunt, his eyes wide, pleading to be taken to the circus.  The ringmaster had a twinkle in his eye as he tipped his hat at June.  He had roped her into spending another nickle for the two of them to get into the acrobats tent and he must have known it.

“The show starts in fifteen minutes in the big top,” the ringmaster said and walked away with a smile.

David started jumping up and down with excitement.  “I want to see the acrobats, Aunt June!  I want to see them fly!”

June gave in easily; she loved to spoil her nephew.  They found their way to the big top and found seats in the second row.  David was bouncing up and down as he waited for the show to begin.  When the ringmaster walked to the center of the sawdust-covered ring, David went rigid.

“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to the greatest show on Earth!”  His mustache was moving wildly with the gusto of his speaking and the whole audience was entrapped.  “You are about to see amazing feats of strength, grace, and beauty that will astound and amaze you!  I ask that you please keep silent and let our performers concentrate on their act.  Four people walked into the big top and lined up behind the ringmaster.  “Coming all the way from Europe,” he said with a sweep of his arm, “we have four of the finest performers here for you today.  Please, give them a warm welcome!”

The crowd clapped wildly as the four acrobats gave a friendly wave to the crowd.  Two dashed out of the circle and the remaining two began their routine.  The executed cartwheels, back flips and handstands that left David clapping happily next to June.  She smiled, reminded of her own childhood and the excitement she felt when something new came into her life.

The spotlight turned off on the performers and shone on the two who had run off.  They were standing high above the crowd’s head on small wooden platforms.  The man of the pair held a trapeze in one hand as he waved.  With a leap, he left the platform and sailed through the big top.  On his back swing, he looped his knees over the bar and reached for his partner, who he grabbed easily from the platform.  The two of them flew as one through the air.

June’s heart was caught in her throat out of fear.  She didn’t want to be a witness to the death of one of the performers.  David was clapping while June tried to remember to breath.

The two performers from the ground had made their way up to another platform and one of them struck out on a second trapeze.  The swing of the two timed up and with a might grunt, the first man threw his partner into the air.

The second she spent in mid-air made June tense with nerves.  What if the second performer’s grip slipped?  What if the timing of the act was wrong?  What would happen if she wasn’t thrown hard enough?  The danger of the moment made her heart stop.

When the flying woman’s hands connected with the second performer’s wrists, the crowd broke into a roaring round of applause.  As the crowd around her rose to their feet, June realized she was already standing.  The action had swept her up and she was ready to rush to the acrobat’s aid if she should fall.

The crowd slowly began to sit back down and June joined in.  She distracted herself for the rest of the performance by watching David’s reactions.  She couldn’t bring herself to watch the performers fly though the air.  It was a dangerous performance and June had had her fill of dangerous professions when she was in Chicago.  Thinking of the voluntary risk only made her think of one person and how his career path had cost him everything he loved.

Prompt Group: Statue

11 Sep

Every other Tuesday is my writers’ group that focuses on prompts.  We did two as a group last night and I wasn’t happy with either of them.  The first was “I’m feeling hot, hot, hot” to which I wrote a short account of someone who’s sick going through the overheating/freezing stages, but it was noting special.  The second was to write an overly fictionalized account of someone in the room going to a museum of natural history.  While Nicole and KK found what I wrote amusing, I don’t think it would appeal to the wider audience of WordPress.

So, Nicole and I stayed after and did an ‘Extra Credit’ prompt which, I can happily say, I am pleased with.  In the spirit of NaNoWriMo prep, I used my main character from my NaNo.

I’d love to hear what you think in the comments, as well as how you are preparing for NaNo.  Enjoy!

There was a statue of the founder of Fairbanks in the middle of town, E.T. Barnette.  Unfortunately for him, the person who made the statue didn’t think about the climate of Fairbanks.  The statue was porous and water could sneak under his skin. E.T. defrosted every spring and parts of his body fell off over time.  By now, his left hand, left ear, right toes, and his entire forehead were missing.  As Melissa sat there in the spring, there were bird feces covering the gouge in his head, dripping out like a boiled stew.

She sat down on the pedestal, breathing deeply and feeling the rise and fall of her stomach, knowing that soon enough, it would be mostly rise and not as much fall.

In only a month, the place she was sitting would be buried under a foot of snow and in just the thin sweater Melissa was wearing she would catch frost bite on 90% of her extremities.

Melissa realized that she didn’t know a thing about Fairbanks, Alaska, or harsh winters in general.  In fact, she had never even seen a movie that took place in Alaska or bothered to read Jack London books about surviving winters north of Minneapolis.  She was drastically unprepared for the Land of the Midnight Sun.

On top of surviving an Arctic winter, she had her grandmother to care for.  Taking care of someone couldn’t be that hard, Melissa reasoned.  People take care of old people and babies all the time.  Granted, most of them probably don’t do both at once during one of the harshest winter in the United States.  But somewhere, someone’s got to be doing it as well.

She heard her mom calling her from the hospital.  “Grandma’s ready to go.  You have to sign the release papers.”

Melissa got up: not excited, not dreading, but not quite hopeful.

Daily Prompt: Excitement

8 Sep

So, I realized that that the post I wanted to be published tonight went up last night instead.  Oh well.  I guess I’ll just have to write up another post for tonight.  Am I right?!

I liked doing the Daily Prompt yesterday, so I’m going to do it again today.  Again, these are my characters from a scene not (yet) in my novel.  I’m just getting to know them better.  Here, we’re visiting June, my female protagonist.

The Daily Prompt: Excitement

June was shaking with anticipation.  She hadn’t been to this barber shop since Donny’s father was shot there.  The bullet holes that Benny’s guys had fired were still in the back wall.  The distillery that had been there was gone and the owners were new.  The blood of Donny’s father was long since cleaned up, but the memory was permanently etched in the plaster.

“All of it, ma’am?” the barber asked.

“All of it,” June replied, her voice revealing that she wasn’t quite as sure as her words implied.

The snip snip snip of the scissors was all she heard for a time.

“You need to stop shaking, ma’am.  You want a straight line and I can’t guarantee that with all your shaking.”

“I’m sorry,” June said.  “I’m just so excited.”

The big man smiled.  “Lots of ladies are excited to finally get their hair bobbed.  Though, most of them did it years ago!  What made you finally change your mind?”

June thought a moment on what the best response would be.  Was it that she knew her brother would be mad?  Was it that she finally felt like the flapper mentality was creeping into the crevices of her brain?  Or was it that she wanted to impress a certain blonde who she knew would be enthralled?

“I got a new hat and I just knew that it needed some short hair to make it look like the bee’s knees.  It just had to be time for a bob!”

The barber let out a chuckle and made his final snips.  It hadn’t taken long and there was no going back.  June fingered the ends of her hair as she gazed in the mirror.  The long flowing red locks were short and came to an abrupt end like a sentence cut off by a whining child.

“It looks wonderful, ma’am.  I’m sure you’ll be quite the sheeba in your new hat.”

June grinned.  That was the plan, after all.