Tag Archives: Prompt

Writers Retreat: Prompts prompts prompts prompts prompts!

14 Mar

Hello and happy Monday! Last weekend, my book club met to give a warm send-off to one of our long-time members who is moving to New York with his wife later this month. We’ll miss him tons and it seemed fitting to give him a send-off in the form of a writing weekend.

This was a very prompt-heavy session for us. I brought a copy of the lit mag that published me to give my friend Marybeth and she had the idea of using first lines from the stories in there to start our stories. It was fun for me because I’d already read the stories and I remembered some of them. I liked seeing where the original author took the story and how that differed from what my friends did. We did this twice and the second time, my first line was an option, but no one chose it. Darn!

The second set of prompts we did in teams of 2-3. Everyone would have four categories and in our teams, we’d come up with objects for those categories that had to make it into our story (unless you’re me and completely forget about this). The first one we did was a time period (1920-1935), object of importance (bike), a name (Dory) and a color (red). I really liked the story I started for this one and it would be great to continue it some day when I have the time. The second time we did an age (70s), social trend or political view (skinny jeans), a genre (thriller), and a quirk (dressing out of character). That one was hard for me and I don’t like my story much. It’s more of a cozy mystery than anything else, a genre I’ve never tried before. The last one was food (banana cream pie), weather (tornado warning), a topic of conversation (ailing relatives), and a murder weapon (crossbow). I liked this story a bit better, but with the time we had, I didn’t have time to get far enough into it for anyone there to know what was going on. I had someone say, “I’m intrigued but what the heck are they doing?” I guess I need to learn to type even faster. Prompts like this are a good practice for NaNo!

We’re going to focus our next meeting on author platforms. Do any of my Readers have any suggestions around this? I use my blog to talk about my writing some, but without anything published yet, I don’t have too much here. I like to talk about when I am writing or my writing community but that’s about it. What’s the best piece of writer advice you can give me?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Prompt Group: Frenimies and Thunderstorms

17 Jul

I actually went to my prompt group! Yep, that’s right. I haven’t been going a lot lately because life has been super crazy but I went on July 1 (and took forever to post this).

Our fearless leader was absent so our friend John bravely took over. We did four prompts, which I’ll share here along with my response for two of them. I’ll list the prompts first and if you want to do them yourself, please pingback here so I can read them.

Prompts:

  1. Think of your favorite antagonist and the trait that makes him/her/it an interesting character. Write a scene with a character who has that trait (7 minutes)
  2. Last minute disappointment (3 minutes)
  3. An interrupting thunderstorm (5 minutes)
  4. How did it/he/she get that name? (3 minutes)

My Responses:

Prompt 1

“Caitlin, you can’t play with her at recess.”

I looked around, confused. The only person I was playing with was Ashley and as far as I knew, Hannah and Ashley were friends.

“With Ashley?” I asked, understanding that I wasn’t going to figure this out in my own.

Hannah glared at Ashley who shrunk under the glare. “Yes, with Ashley and her perfect baby-cut top.”

I looked at Ashley again; I hadn’t noticed her new shirt. It was a blue-green that matched her eyes and had a really nice cut.

“I don’t get it,” I said, really not understanding.

“She went out and bought the same shirt as me!” Hannah was mad, pointing her finger at the offending article. “She’s trying to copy me, to be just like me. How sad.” Hannah crossed her arms, continuing to glare at Ashley who was kicking the ground with her toes and tugging at the hem of her shirt as if she could change it.

“That’s not true, Hannah, you don’t know that.”

“My mom bought it for me,” Ashley pipped up in a weak voice.

“Shut up, Ashley. Don’t lie to me.” Hannah was glaring at us both; at Ashley for stealing her style and me for not choosing her side. What’s a girl to do?

“Hannah, it’s just a shirt; we can still play together.”

“I’m not going to be seen with someone who’s copying me. And I won’t be seen with someone who’s obviously not my friend!”

I knew the last bit was directed at me and I took a step toward Hannah. Hannah started to smirk and Ashley looked on the verge of tears.

“Is there a problem girls?” The tall shadow of the recess monitor, Miss Molly, loomed over us all.

“No, Miss Molly,” we all said in unison as if it was rehearsed.

“Just deciding what to do on this beautiful day,” Hannah said with a smile.

“Well, no need for the yelling. Run along.” She turned and walked away to take care of some boys pushing each other really high on the swings.

Hannah’s eyes turned dark again. “Let me know when you decide who your real friends are,” she said to me and turned away from us. I looked at Ashley, still not knowing what to do. I took a step toward Hannah and paused again. I wanted to be her friend, but I didn’t want to follow her.

Prompt 3

“What was that? Was that a gunshot?”

“No, baby, come back to bed.”

“But what if someone’s dead out there? Bleeding?”

“It was a thunderstorm; come back to bed. This was just about to get good.”

“How can you be thinking of anything besides the fact that there might be a dead dog out there?”

“Because of what you were just doing to me. Can we get back to that?”

“Not until you go look for the blood trail the poor animal is probably leaving through the parking lot.”

“There’s no dead dog, Jill.”

“You don’t know that!”

“I think you’re trying to get out of doing something.”

“How can you think of yourself right now?”

“You’re working yourself into a panic.”

“You’re working yourself into apathy!”

“Coma back to bed, Jill. What are you doing?”

“Looking for my shoes. I’ve got to get out there.”

“It’s pouring.”

“Then I’ll need to find my shirt, too.”

“If you didn’t want to, you could have said something.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Yes you do.”

“Well, maybe I do and maybe I didn’t know how to tell you but now I’m worried about this dog. So, I’ll be seeing you later because I’m about to storm out of here looking for that dog and I’ll probably jump in my car and go home after. Good night.”

 

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Library Writers Group: Good Critique and Ice Cream

16 Jun

The writers’ group at my library met a few weeks back and I wanted to put together a short summary of what we talked about. We didn’t have anything to discuss this week so we talked about good critique. First, how to give critique.

Even if a piece is not for you and you would not read another world if your life depended on it, there’s a way to say that without being a jerk. “Your main character sucks” sounds better as “I didn’t believe your main character.” “Your writing is so choppy I couldn’t read it” could be “I found your sentence structures distracting.” Boom; done. It’s that easy. This kind of comes from some feelings I expressed in my Negativity #2 post a few weeks back. I don’t want to repeat that again. When something in the book really upsets you, recognize that it’s the circumstances and characters that have upset you, not the writer. Maybe the writer wanted to upset you and make you think and they’ve accomplished their goal. Direct critique at the story and characters, not the writer. As writers, we’re voluntarily putting ourselves into an industry that will perpetually tell us we’re not good enough and we’ll never make a living off of it. Why would we do that to each other when there are agents to do it? We should be a support system for each other and build each other up.

Taking critique is much harder. There’s no doubt you’ll get critique you don’t like or don’t agree with. Think about it for a few days before you disregard it. Maybe some thought will tell you it’s not such a bad idea to kill off the protagonist’s dad. However, not everything you get is useful and you can choose not to make some changes if it’s best for your story.

We read the article Shitty First Drafts by Anne Lamott taken from her book Bird by Bird. This book is sitting on my shelf and I will read it soon…. I hope. The article talks about how Anne goes about getting her first draft on paper because you can’t edit what’s not there. We all found this really relieving to hear. If you haven’t read the essay yet, please try to find a copy.

To end, we did a prompt. Mine was, “Takes place in an ice cream shop, one character is a doctor, involves new shoes.” Enjoy.

 

An ice cream to celebrate another test done. Sprinkles to celebrate the end of the semester. Hot fudge to prepare myself for a residency I’m not sure I’m ready for.

I’m sitting at the high bar stool because it makes me feel ready to run out of the door. I allow myself to half-slip off the seat as a test and only succeed in dropping my napkin. I need a new one to fight the fudge monster who’s trying in vain to drown the sprinkle villagers as they escape down Vanilla Mountain. I rescue a few perishing souls with my spook and look down again at my proximity to the floor. My toes almost graze the mound of books and notebooks in my backpack and I notice an almost hole on the left toe of my blue Keds. My mouth crews up in the same way I imagine the sprinkle-men did while evaluating their escape from hot fudge. Med school budgets don’t account for new shoes before a residency. They don’t consider Vanilla Mountain either. I sigh, knowing I’m facing another month of American cheese sandwiches for lunch and bananas for breakfast. Doctors really are the least healthy people.

 

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Prompt Group: It could have been deported parachute pants.

20 May

Wow, it’s been a while since I posted prompts. I guess that’s because it’s been a while since I visited my prompt group! Nicole and I grabbed dinner before heading to a very crowded group. I haven’t been in a while and there were some new people I was excited to meet.

We did three prompts. I’ll list them below and if you want to try them, please do and post the results! Link here so I can read them. I’ll put my responses below that. (NOTE: There is some cursing in these prompts and responses. Please be warned and do not read if it offends you.)

  1. But it could have been worse. (3 minutes)
  2. Imagine you are part of a different ethnic group. Write something from that POV. (8 minutes)
  3. Parachute Pants. Fuck Yeah. (2 minutes)

 

And my responses:

  1. It was raining and my car broke down.
    But it could have been worse.
    My jack wouldn’t fit under the body
    And I had to break down and call AAA
    Even though I made fun of my brother for calling them last week
    But it could have been worse.
    AAA gave me a wait time of two hours
    And showed up with the same car jack I already tried
    So they had to send another guy who took another hour.
    But it could have been worse.
    Because while I was waiting for a jack
    And then the right jack,
    I escaped.
    A world where fathers are shot by their own daughters
    A world where a thought can span an entire generation
    And memories can slowly be restored.
    It was a world with mysterious messages
    And prison mines underground.
    So yes, I lost four hours of my life because AAA is incompetent
    And I’ll never get it back.
    But I had a book, so it could have been worse.
  2. Mamá pulls the empanadas off the stove and puts them in front of me. I stare at them but I’m not even able to pick one up.

    Se regresarán,” she says, trying to comfort me. “No te preocupes.”

    I nod, but I don’t feel like being cheered up. So I reach out and grab an empanada and don’t flinch much when it burns my fingers.

    My mother does this. She tries to comfort me with food all the time. When I was younger, I let her but now I’m trying to take care of myself; to forge my own path. I’m doing well in school and I thought I’d be more than a kid from the barrio. I’d been so sure of it.

    José and Manuel always gave me people to look up to. They were set to graduate first in their class and had dreams of going to college. They wanted to go to TCU and Manuel was going to be an engineer. Not that it mattered any more.

    I can’t eat the empanadas. I only picture Jose eating empanadas off the stove in Mexico. His mamá, crying as hard as ever and her tears dripping onto the hot surface of them. His papá, sitting quietly at the table like I was, trying to keep his head up. But he can’t. And José can’t meet his own father’s eye. There’s no good way to tell your son that his college dreams have been dashed because you were speeding and gotten pulled over. When you failed to produce a driver’s license and blew numbers, even .09, citizenship and residency started to be called into question. And when those questions started being asked, there was no way to take it back. There was no way to slow down the car or find your license in your wallet when you’d left it at work or to have filed for residency properly. There was no way to stay after that.

    And if José and Manuel couldn’t stay, couldn’t earn their diplomas and move their tassel from the right to the left, why would I ever think that I can? Why would I ever think that I’m better than that?

    Mamá lays her hand on my elbow and I realize that the empanada had not yet made its way into my mouth.  “Come.” I put it in my mouth but don’t chew. “No eres lo mismo que ellos.”

    I shake my head.

    Estudia su matemáticas. Será bien.”

    I go to my room and open my computer but I don’t do math homework. Instead I Google how an illegal immigrant can avoid being deported if his parents are. I Google if I could be different or if I am the same as them.

  3. Of course they have different pants for skydiving. They have different versions of everything to skydive. There are skydiving glasses, skydiving hair ties, and skydiving shoes. So yes, of course, they have skydiving pants. And yes, thank you for asking, they make my ass look A-Mazing. So don’t go asking me where I got my ‘awesome running pants’ because I’ll slap your ignorant little face out of a jet flying over a bad drop zone. These are my skydiving, parachute-safe, no drag, no snag pants. Fuck yeah.

Thanks for reading, all! Take care and until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Prompt Group: Sobriety, a Way of Life, Celebrities, and Water

11 Mar

My prompt group met last Tuesday and I wanted to share with you what we did. As always, I’ll give you the prompts first and if you want to do them as well, please link back so I can see what your responses were. I really liked all of them this week and I hope you enjoy as well!

  1. Use this quote for inspiration: “You can’t tell me not to come to work because roads are bad and then ask me an hour later to come in and expect me to be sober.” (5 minutes)
  2. Include these three elements: A way of life comes to an end, a snake, and a character going clothes shopping. (8 minutes)
  3. Describe your experience meeting a celebrity. Then, write the scene from the celebrity’s point of view. (5 minutes for each)
  4. Include the quote “I only asked for water,” and a white elephant.

My Responses:

Prompt #1

My wife is standing there, dressed in only the lingerie I gave her for Valentine’s Day and my boss is on the phone, telling me I have to come in. My computer’s on, I did some work this morning, what else did he want? I’m only taking a short break. I was being more productive today than I had been in weeks at the office. And yes, the vodka helped, thank you. So it wasn’t just that I didn’t want to come in, it was that I couldn’t come in.

“I can’t, man.” I glance up at my wife, her chest heaving as she stood over me. “My wife took my car; I don’t have a way to get in.”

“Mike, you better call a cab and get in here right now. That client of yours, the big one? Yeah, he got the wrong week for the meeting and he’s standing in your office right now and he won’t talk to anyone except you. You understand my dilemma right now?”

I understand it alright, but I don’t think he understands mine. My wife is staring down at my dick which is hanging out from where she just finished a little something, if you get my meaning. So yeah, I’m in a bind in more ways than one.

“She’ll be back in a half hour and I can get the car then. I can see you in an hour, but no sooner.”

“You better call that bitch and tell her to get her ass home as soon as she can.” His voice is so loud Sharon can hear his every word and she frowns.

“Hey man, that’s my wife. Watch your tongue.”

You better watch your tongue, you idiot. How could you tell the client the wrong week? Something as basic as a week and you can’t even get it right. Jesus Christ, are you stupid, man?”

I throw the phone on the couch next to me and look at Sharon. “Fuck him, he doesn’t matter. Come here and let’s do this. Then you can drive my drunk ass into work so I can fix his shit. Jesus Christ I need a new job. These assholes.”

She smirks and walks over to me, starting just where we’d left off.

Prompt #2

I look at dresses and bras in a completely different way now. I’m not looking at the prices or the cut or the style, I’m looking at which will hide a boyish frame with no curves, which has the best coverage for stuffed, fake boobs, and which will still look good on a fourteen-year-old boy. Girl; I have to say girl now. I have to say Jessica instead of Jason and I have to say ‘she’ instead of ‘he.’ I was the proud mother of a son and now I’m the mother of a daughter. I’m not sure I can say proud yet, because I’m still not sure how I feel about it.

I walk through the aisles, touching fabrics, the way I shop for myself, by touch. But now… it all seems so different but he, sorry, she keeps telling me nothing has changed. I’m trying to believe him. Her.

I see a shirt across the aisle, there’s a cobra printed along the bottom seam which will distract from Jessica’s flat chest. It comes up high on the neck and is red, a color that always looked good on Jason and I have to assume will look good on Jessica. I finger the fabric and feel the soft cotton slip through my fingers. I shop with my hands for myself, why wouldn’t I for my daughter?

I find her size, holding it up to make sure the cut is straight. There’s a rack of sun dresses next to it, gingham print in a soft blue that will go great with black flats. I sigh, knowing I’ll never fit in it and grab one in Jessica’s size, walking back to the dressing rooms.

She’s standing there in front of the mirror, looking at her reflection in a pair of jeans, girl’s jeans. Jason had a pair before, but they were cheap, bought at the second-hand store behind our backs. These were nice jeans, the quality I bought for Jason, I mean for Jessica, before Jessica was Jessica.

“They look good,” I tell her. She doesn’t look at me and spins in front of the mirror, seeing how they look from behind. “Maybe a little tight in the… well…” I gesture toward the front of his jeans. Woman’s jeans don’t hide a male anatomy well.

“I know,” she says in a soft voice. “I’m thinking a size bigger might help. The stitching’s cute.” She sticks her hands in the back pockets and looks at me.

I smile. The stitching does look cute. I wish Jason had talked to me about these things instead of hiding them in the back of his closet. I’m glad that I can talk to Jessica about them. These are things I enjoy; feminine hemlines and make-up, doing my hair just to go to the grocery. These are things that were mine in a house with two men. Now, I realize, they can be ours in a house with two women; my daughter and me. I can’t stop smiling.

Prompt #3

“Excuse me, where’s the bar?”

I shrug my shoulder in the direction of the club house. “Up the stairs and to the left.”

“Thanks, mate.” He sidles away and I finally look up, watching his broad back saunter away toward the club house. It was the accent that made me look up. You don’t get a lot of Australians in Ohio and I studied him critically. It was like he felt my eyes on his back and turned around, grinning at me. My jaw dropped as Chris Hemsworth winked at me, the sun shining off his blonde hair. I gulped and swallowed, not wanting to be caught gaping and returned to the boat I was cleaning, finishing off the knot to connect it to the dock. Then I stood, eyes trained on the club house and waiting for him to come back. His friend’s boat was docked farther down in a slip I couldn’t see. When he reemerged, I moved behind a big sailboat so he couldn’t see me and started scrubbing the deck. I didn’t want to be caught staring again. He walked to his friends with a beer in each hand, giving one to a blonde girl in a bikini. Typical.

She was short with dark hair and, boy, was she cleaning out that boat. I’d never seen someone care so much about another person’s things and I instantly respected her for it. The T-shirt with an anchor on it identified her as a marina employee so I cleared my throat, trying to get her attention. She only brushed the carpet harder.

“Uh, excuse me, I’m looking for the bar?” Everything I said sounded like a question. I didn’t know what to say when I didn’t have lines.

She pointed to a big white building with her elbow. “Club house, up the stairs and on your left.” She didn’t look up, still concentrating on the grey carpet and a stain next to the driver’s seat. I shuddered to think what it was.

“Thanks, mate.”

That was when people would always stare at me. I think if I didn’t have the damn accent I’d have half a shot of staying anonymous in the United States, but these American’s can’t deal with the friendly ways of the Aussies. I walked away and knew that she’d looked up, knew that she was watching me walk away and wondering why an Australian was in Ohio. I would only come to this hell hole to film a movie. There is no other reason: ever.

I couldn’t help looking back. I hated and loved the lost look on people’s faces when they recognize me. If I was incapable of remaining anonymous, why not flaunt it? She was staring of course, and not subtly. I turned back to the club house, sent to get my wife the beer she wanted so badly that we had to dock.

Prompt #4

It was the worst Christmas Party ever. No one understood the fun of a white elephant exchange, no one. I got a candle and a year subscription to People. Who gives these things? I was starting to sweat, my gift still sitting in the pile. It was supposed to be funny, it was supposed to make people laugh, but I think they were all going to be uncomfortable. And damn it if I would tell them it was my gift.

My boss of all people reached for the box and I flinched. He unwrapped it carefully and pulled out the peppermint schnapps and chocolate syrup. The card fell into his lap. I knew what it said: For fun, mix in mouth and swallow. He read it slowly and looked up with a surprising smile on his face.

“Anyone want a try?” He held the bottles up and my heart started beating at a normal rate again. “Michelle? Adam?”

Michelle, the admin put her hands up in protest. “I only asked for water. I have to drive home.” I rolled my eyes. Admins were always the party poopers of a group.

I hope you have fun with these prompts! Until next time, write on.

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: 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.