prompts, writing

Story Prompt #9

Today is your first time in a hot air balloon. The operator looks young and a bit nervous. As you rise, you see police cars pull in below. The operator turns to you, eyes wide.

“I’m on the run. Either you’re coming with or you can hop out now.”

 

Any stories from this prompt submitted using my contacts page have a chance to be published on my site with a link to your page. Have fun writing!

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WordSmith Musings, writing

Learning to Write Again

I’ve been writing for years, so the idea of teaching myself the habit of writing seemed ridiculous. But, that is currently the dilemma I’m facing. As any author knows, writing changes over your lifetime. There are times where you can sit down and write for eight hours straight. And then there’s times where you fit in five minutes every week.

I’m getting off a season of life that was the latter. I went from stealing away time to having almost two hours every day and more to write.

And suddenly, my fingers froze.

Do you know that feeling? It’s not quite writer’s block. I know what I want to write and even, shockingly, how to start. But diving in, immersing myself, feeling the keys beneath my fingers and letting myself sit in the world I create is intimidating.

So I’ve been slowly learning to write again. It starts with just a little bit. A page, a paragraph. I even reread the last few pages I wrote just to ground myself, whatever helps ease me in. I sit down, limit my distractions, and write. Write even when my brain is jumping to the list of chores I still need to do or what I want to pack for lunch or how loud the neighbor’s lawn mower is this morning (which is very, in case you’re wondering). I write even when it’s hard. Because deep down, I know that writing is my passion. My husband can attest, I will go on and on about my characters and my world. I love it.

And yet, I’m relearning it. Teaching myself to put in the time, put the effort in. I have a cup of coffee, some wordless music, and I write. And, word by word, I’m learning how to write again.

Have any of you felt like this? Do you have any tips or tricks that help when writing becomes hard or it’s just too easy to get distracted? Let me know in the comments, I would love to try them out!

Thanks for reading!

Tips and Tricks, writing

Quick Tip #1

Beware “turning” words, a word or phrase that helps shift your story to go in a new direction usually by telling rather than showing. A heavy reliance on them lends towards less action and less engagement with the reader. 

Turning words to avoid: suddenly; then; out of nowhere; surprisingly; shockingly; seemed

Examples: 

Turning words: Suddenly, Kevin threw a punch at Ben.

Action words: Kevin’s fingers tightened into a ball and took a deep breath. He swung quickly and Ben’s eyes widened as he jerked backwards.

Turning words: It seemed to me like Alicia had no idea he would be here.

Action words: I watched Alicia’s mouth form a tiny ‘o’ and the color slowly started to drain from her cheeks as her eyes locked onto his.

Original Work, writing

Diamonds (Flash Fiction)

Dedicated to every young girl who was ever afraid to say how they felt. Be brave, ladies.

They slipped out. Those simple words that were never meant to see daylight, let alone parade out in to it. Like a wet glass in a soapy hand, they slipped and shattered into a million pieces. There was no way to ever undo it and there was no way I could ever piece it back together the same as before.

Those words had been hidden inside, locked and under key for years. ‘I love you’ was not something you could say to your best friend. Maybe it was just the heat of this warm spring day that made me unaware of what I was saying. The lulling of the whirring fan, the disillusioned words of years gone past spilling from our history books, or how turquoise blue his eyes were as they smiled at me over our now disregarded school books must have put me at such an ease that words came with no accord to what I actually wanted to say. Now, those bright blue eyes had widened in shock.

He stared at me with an expression I couldn’t read. I had never been good at reading his facial expressions, even though I had known his face my whole life. I didn’t even avert my eyes as he stared in amazement, something that was profoundly unlike me. I was the shy girl that had always blended into the background. Steady and reliable, but never bold. Not the kind of girl who would tell a boy that they loved them like that. Or at all. We had played in the sandbox between our yards together and he was in every way the boy next door. He was the person I could always talk to and was never hesitant around like I was with others. Though our lives had diverged along different paths, we had always stayed close friends. He went on to be the star quarterback and class president. I was the straight A girl who hung out in the library and quoted corny movies.

He slowly opened his mouth to say something. My courage failed and I took to the door with a speed that would have made an Olympian proud. I stopped on the front porch and took a deep breath.

I turned back around and opened the door.

Standing in the doorway with his hand out to grab the knob was my blue eyed boy. He was wearing an expression that even I could read clearly. Did you ever notice that shattered glass looks like a million diamonds?

Book Review, writing

Book Review: Everless by Sara Holland

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Sara Holland takes the old saying “time is money” and creates an entire intriguing and complex world based off this idea in her novel, Everless. In Holland’s world, a person’s blood and time are able to be magically bound with iron which has become the currency of the realm.
We first meet Jules, a young girl struggling to survive with her father on the outskirts of a small town. Having left Everless, the large and prosperous city of her childhood, Jules and her father have traveled and survived, though not without the cost of Jules’ father selling his time to make ends meet. The story takes off as Jules, trying to earn time for her father, is forced to head to Everless again where mystery and danger run rampant.
I loved Jules as a character. While she was strong and courageous, she also felt very grounded. She knew what she wanted and she went after that, even if it didn’t always work out as she planned. Her bravery is also impressive as she stands up to some of the most dangerous people in the country.
But Jules is not perfect, which is what makes her a great character. She makes mistakes, she is wrong on a few major things, and she leads us on some twists and turns that will have you hanging onto each sentence.
Her cast of supporting characters also kept me on my toes. The Gerling family, the ruling family of Everless, provided us with a glimpse into what it would be like to live for hundreds of years without fear of not having enough time. Certainly we’ve all wondered what that would be like. I have and it was intriguing to see how people reacted to this abundance of time given to them.
Unsurprisingly, corruption and greed seem to thrive within the walls of Everless, but we see bright spots of compassion and kindness as well. Some of the main reasons for such compassion are the fellow servants of Everless who add entertaining shenanigans but also heartbreak to Jules’ story.
I highly recommend this book to any reader who enjoys a tale that weaves a vibrant world around our characters and surprises us over and over again.

Get the book here!

Sunday Story Segment, writing

Asena 10: Plans

Rejoin Asena as she scrambles to save both Emmett and Marlene from a possibly lethal plan to uncover the truth about Francis’ murder. Comment below to add your thoughts and ideas! Thanks!

 

This was a terrible plan. I wasn’t usually the type of person to get swept up in a grand idea without weighing the options. I had learned the hard way that that was the quickest path to destruction. Harold had been a great at selling the idea but the follow-through had always been terrible.

I prayed that Emmett was able to see this through and not get caught. Marlene had promised up and down that she would trash whatever she bought the moment she got it. I still hated the idea that either of them would spend time with an illegal substance in their possession. I shivered despite the heat in my apartment.  

But I hadn’t come up with a better idea. After another half hour in the cafe and my entire walk home, I was still blank. I had no idea who might be able to sell something like that and I didn’t have any contacts who might know. I knew Danny, but I wasn’t sure how happy he’d be if I came asking for a list of anyone who could possibly be selling cocaine.

I groaned inwardly again. Danny had called me back an hour ago but I had let the call go to voicemail. I needed a few more hours to figure out how to explain this whole situation to him and maybe to find a way around our crazy plan.

Emmett had promised he would do nothing for a few days, giving the killer time to cool down. If the very next day someone started asking questions about the uncommon type of cocaine that killed Francis, Emmett would be dead before he got out of whatever sleazy place he was in.

I racked my brain. I had thought about posing as the person searching for drugs, as either a buyer or the middle man. But I didn’t know the business well enough to fake being the middle man and I couldn’t let anyone dig up info on me to make sure I was a legit buyer. Marlene was in the clear, as both rich and spoiled. No one would question that.

I yanked my laptop on to my lap. My apartment was cozy, though I hated whenever Danny used that word. It had a big poofy couch and a recliner all facing the TV hanging on the wall. On the far side of the living room was a large floor to ceiling window with reflective glass. The kitchen wasn’t huge but I kept my mom’s old canister set on the counter and a few of her pie plates that some of her friends had gifted me when they learned I was back in town.

The kitchen counter was a brown marble top that had a cutting board built in next to the sink. I had convinced my maintenance super to replace my tiny faucet with a long goose neck that made cooking so much easier. I thought about heading over there and losing myself for an hour trying out a new recipe.

Instead, I buried myself deeper in the couch and clicked on to Marlene’s Facebook. Research had become so much easier with social media. I scrolled through her most recent photos. I was happy to see there were no selfies from any of our time together, the last one from a party about a week ago. She looked happy, smiling at the camera while dancing in a flouncy red dress. She looked the like the perfect crazy heiress, with her hair curly and messy, dark eyeliner rimming her eyes, and other brightly clad twenty-somethings dancing around her with neon cocktails in hand.

I sighed. She looked like she was having fun. Why did she feel the need to butt into my investigation and to get my approval on her actions?

I moved on, scrolling past pictures of her posing with a cup of hot chocolate, flinging a snowball at some guy, catching snowflakes till I hit fall photos with flannels and pumpkin patches. I shook my head. This girl was my opposite in so many ways.

I frowned at a photo of her family at some gala, dressed in long evening gowns and a tux. Her hair was tamed for once, slicked so it gently curled and the emerald dress popped against the bright red. And while she easily stole the attention, I stared at her parents.

Her father’s face was familiar. I had seen him in the newspaper periodically, either because of his business or his charitable work. His bushy beard always surprised me as a business man but his beefy build pulled it off. He stood a few inches over his daughter and wife, smiling over their heads at the camera.

His wife had red hair as well, though it was chopped into a short straight bob. She had a strong face, with sharp cheekbones and large eyes. Her blue dress offset her coloring well and she was smiling but looking off in another direction. I wondered why Marlene posted that one, with her mother gazing off into space.

I sucked in a breath, jealousy biting at me. What I wouldn’t give for that to be me, for that woman to be my mother, smiling and laughing and hugging me close. Moira was so full of life and so strong. I wished sometimes I was more like her or even more like Marlene. Too often, I could see Harold reflecting back out of my eyes and it terrified me.

I shuddered and clicked away.

My phone buzzed and I looked down. A message from Danny had popped up. “Pizza later? Working late.”

It had been a while since we had gotten pizza together, but it used to be common for both of us to grab a few slices at a local place down the road whenever we worked late. I smiled, glad to see the tradition would survive my freeze out.

I sent back a thumbs up and drug my hand through my hair. I could always ask Danny and get his advice without explaining the drug deal. I knew I had to tell him later tonight that I was still investigating but I couldn’t tell him everything. I was sure he could get me the info I needed but if I brought him in, he could easily be implicated if we got caught.

I needed him to have plausible deniability.

I sat up straight. My fingers flew over the keyboard as I cursed my slow brain. I hated to use the password twice in a week in case it red flagged it in a system and I lost access, but if I could figure out what the police knew, I could maybe convince Marlene and Emmett that there was another way.

It didn’t take long before I was scrolling past mugshots of anyone arrested for dealing highgrade. Most of them were still in prison and I could feel my frustration growing. If I couldn’t figure it out this way, I wasn’t sure my next step. Let Emmett go through with it. Disguise myself as an heiress and go with him despite the risk?

I stopped at a mugshot, blinking in surprise. I recognized that face. I scanned his information and smiled. He had been released for a lack of evidence on the drug charge but I had a feeling he would have my information.

I clicked on him and found the most recent arrest. I minimized that box, happy to see he was still in lock-up for another two nights. Next I pulled up the case file from a few years ago, hoping my suspicion was correct.

I stopped, rereading the sentence I was hoping would be there. “Suspects were in a public library when they made the phone call that led to Linda wiring them $10,000 but the surveillance tape was stolen.”

Harold was sly. He had this whole explanation of using a public place because it’s harder to trace, but it’s so much more than that. He had done this to every partner he’d ever had, usually without them knowing. He would find a place that had easy security, used an older system, and steal the tape as an insurance policy. If his partner tried to screw him over, he had a tape that would put them both in jail. Mutual destruction.

Now I simply had to convince Danny to let me see the man who attempted to attack me at a bar without explaining exactly why. I shut my laptop, happy to know that Bernie’s drunkenness was going to help me make sure my friends didn’t get themselves killed or arrested.