Fiction Fragment Fridays: Heat

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Continuing on with my series of drabbles today. A reminder that if anyone would like to use any of these drabbles as a prompt, feel free but please thank me by giving a shout-out to the blog if you post the results anywhere. To check out past drabbles click on the “Categories” drop-down on my sidebar and select “Drabbles”.

For today’s drabble I thought I’d take a break from all the creepy, scary, and just plain weird stuff that I usually go in for, and try out some good old fashioned romance.

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Eric’s fingers trailed along the back of Sylvia’s hand. The light touch sent shivers down her spine.

“You’re gorgeous,” Eric said. “You know that, right?”

Sylvia began to shake her head, but the movement was cut short as Eric pulled her close and leaned down to press his lips to hers. The kiss was exactly as she’d imagined it would be. Her whole body flushed as she leaned her chest into his and wrapped her arms around his neck.

A long, wonderful moment later, they pulled apart. Sylvia looked up, a powerful burn in her stomach.

“Your place or mine?”

Fiction Fragment Fridays: The Bus

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How would you like another drabble today? Yeah, you know you want one. As a side note, I’d like to mention that if anyone would like to use any of my drabbles as a prompt, feel free! I only ask that if you post the result anywhere you give a shout-out to my blog. And if you’d like to check out previous drabbles, use the “Categories” drop-down on my sidebar and choose “Drabbles”.

The following drabble came to me as a result of a desperate attempt to get some sleep on the bus to and from work, and the weird little snippets of dreams that ensued.


I knew something was wrong when I realized that the bus wasn’t moving. We hadn’t been driving for more than ten minutes; I was sure of it because I hadn’t even managed to drift off yet. I opened my eyes.

The bus was completely empty – even the driver and her backpack were missing – and it was stopped in the middle of a dark highway that seemed to go on for miles in either direction.

Tentative, I leaned forward into the aisle and called, “Hello?”

And from right behind my ear, too close to be possible, came the reply: “Hello, sweetie.”

Fiction Fragment Fridays: Buried

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As I mentioned last week, I’m giving myself a little bit of neccesary relief by way of drabbles on Fridays for a little while. This one is something I whipped up while telling drinking stories with the boys at work (don’t worry…this exact story did not actually happen to any of us!)

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The first thing I noticed was the pounding headache. The second was that the air I was breathing was awfully stale and dusty-tasting. I tried to sit up, but my head immediately cracked off of something extremely solid.

Frustrated, and hungover as hell, I shifted around in the pitch-black, tight space in order to wiggle my BIC lighter out of my jeans pocket and into my hand. Lacking back and holding the BIC near my face, I flicked the little wheel to bring forth a flame.

I was inside a cheap wooden coffin.

“Ah shit. Not this again.”

Fiction Fragment Fridays: What Will You Write? Ed. 5

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The most recent “What Will You Write?” over at I Read Encyclopedias was put on hold shortly after being announced to allow for the fact that a lot of people are pretty busy during the month of July with things like Camp NaNo. However, July is almost over, so in anticipation of the challenge reopening I decided to share my entry a little early.

This prompt, offered up by former winner Tara Southwell is a little different than the previous ones. Instead of writing the beginning of a scene and having us finish it, Tara has offered up this concept:

Just write a story, 1000 words or less, which includes one character taking a small object out of their pocket and saying, “It’s time to shake things up a bit.” Any genre, any character, as long as they have pockets.

So with that strange and wonderful idea in mind, I present my entry for the 5th “What Will You Write?”

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Jeremy yanked hard on the stiff collar of his brand new black and white suit. He glared at his mother out of the corner of his eye, and although she couldn’t possibly have seen him with her eyes fixed on the road in front of her, she immediately clicked her tongue in disapproval.

“Don’t you give me that look, young man,” she said in her frustratingly high-and-mighty tone. She removed one hand from the steering wheel to smooth her silk floral dress, and then glanced in the rearview mirror to make certain that her perfectly coiffed blond hair was still in place. The look she gave herself indicated that she saw perfection in the mirror. Jeremy saw only a cruel devil woman.

“You’ll be the model son tonight,” she commanded in what only she thought was an authoritative voice. “Or else.”

Jeremy glowered at her and yanked at his collar again. “It would have been easier on everyone if you’d just let me stay home,” he whined. “No one is going to give a damn if I’m there or not.”

“You watch your mouth,” mother hissed as she pulled the car into the hotel’s front parking lot. “This discussion is over. I’ve already told you, this is a very important business party and my boss insisted that families attend.” She chose a parking spot, turned off the ignition, and turned to give Jeremy the meanest glare she could muster. “So you will smile, and you will be polite, and you will prove yourself to be the most well-behaved child here, or so help me!” Here she whipped around with a huff and exited the vehicle, having apparently made what she thought was a point.

Jeremy moved as slowly as he could while still technically following. He frowned as they entered the huge old hotel with its twin lion statues on either side of the front doors. He frowned as the desk attendant greated them cheerfully and directed them to the confererence room where the party was being held. He frowned all the way down the long hall with the super-fancy, super-ugly old antique rug. He smiled as they entered the party, smiled as his mother proudly introduced him to her stuffy, grotesquely overweight boss, and then frowned all the way over to the table that had been set aside for the children in the far corner of the hideously-decorated room.

Jeremy was the fourth child to join the table, alongside a pretty dark-haired girl about his age, and two younger twin boys who were fighting over what appeared to be a parent’s cellphone. Jeremy sat next to the girl and together they stared grumpily out at the room full of adults in their fanciest clothes, talking and laughing quietly while sipping wine and listening to horribly boring music.

“I’m Jeremy,” he offered to the girl.

“Stephanie,” she answered back.

“You bored yet?”

“Dear God, yes.”

Stephanie turned to Jeremy with an expectant look and he couldn’t help but smile. He reached into his pocket – the bulging one that he had been careful to keep out of his mother’s line of site since she’d hustled him into the car. Inside was something coiled into a tight little ball.

“What is it?” Stephanie asked, excited, seeing the look on his face.

Jeremy grinned, and his gaze landed on his mother, chatting it up with her hideous boss. These were the two women whose fault it was that he was sitting here in this ridiculous party instead of playing street hockey with his friends. With a look of elation on his face, Jeremy pulled the object from his pocket and showed Stephanie the snake as it uncoiled and flicked out its tongue.

“It’s time to shake things up a bit.”

Blogging 101, Day Sixteen: Making a Prompt Personal

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Prompts can be a blogger’s best friend. When you’ve found yourself with a monster case of writer’s block and it seems as though there is simply nothing worth saying, doing a quick search for some prompts can save your blog’s posting schedule. But it doesn’t have to just be about answering a question that another blogger has asked, or finishing a scene that someone else started; you can make a prompt personal.

Today’s assignment is to publish a post based on your own, personalized take on today’s Daily Prompt.

The Daily Post has prompts every day to keep us writing (thanks guys!), and while many of them could easily be answered with a simple sentence, or else a completely fictional response, most of them can also be used as a way to get personal and share something about yourself that your readers may not have known.

Now, as you know, I tend to schedule posts in advance, and as such “Today’s Daily Prompt” on The Daily Post was actually the prompt from a couple of weeks ago. But bear with me as I show the concept of personalizing a prompt with an old one.

The prompt: Today is Summer Solstice, the longer day of the year (in the Northern hemisphere). How are you taking advantage of the extra hours of sunlight this time of year? Do you like it, or do you already miss earlier sunsets?

The response: I kinda hate this time of year. Don’t get me wrong, I love the summer, the warm weather, and the sunshine, but longer days are a curse for me. Why? Well for one thing I spent all winter convincing my daughter that she had to go to bed because the sun was asleep, so now she suddenly has an argument for staying awake several hours later. For another thing, summer in the Albertan oil sands is maddening because the sun practically never sets. When I get up at 3 am it is as bright out as midday, and when I’m trying to sleep at night it’s just as bright. At the worst, the sun is actually only completely down for about an hour (around midnight). It might sound lovely to someone who loves the sun, but when you’re dead tired from a 12-hour shift and you can’t get to sleep because even the slightest crack in your curtains is like a spotlight in your room, you learn to hate the sun pretty quickly.

The conclusion: See what I did there? I could have responded to that prompt with cold hard facts, stating that I don’t have any plans and am not a fan of long days, but instead I used the opportunity to reveal a couple of little tidbits about my life. Keep this in mind when writing a post based on a prompt; a few personal details can really make the post pop!

Blogging 101, Day Eleven: Be a Good Neighbor

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I’ve mentioned it several times before, but networking is a huge, huge part of successful blogging. It took me a while to figure that one out – as I’m sure it does for many newbie bloggers – because when we first start blogging we don’t think that there is anything more to it than writing. We imagine that we’ll write these amazing, thought-provoking posts, and people will just appear out of the woodwork to read and comment and praise how wonderful we are. But it doesn’t happen like that because, honestly, how do we expect people to find us? Michelle W. knows this as well, and that’s why day eleven’s assignment is to leave comments on at least four blogs that you’ve never commented on before.

Don’t quote me on this, but I’d be willing to bet that the majority of people who read blogs are people who have their own blogs. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Think about it: Facebook users are much more likely to come across your Facebook Fan Page than people who don’t use Facebook. Similarly, people who are already hanging out on WordPress/Blogger/etc because that’s where their blog is are more likely to read your blog. That’s why you want to engage. Make friends with bloggers who have similar interests as you have. Participate in blog hops, contests, challenges, and prompts. Become a part of the community. And be sure to comment on blog posts that you enjoy, because how can you expect people to do the same for you if you’re not willing to put in at least that much effort?

When I first started this blog I was the typical newbie. I was just writing posts and wondering why no one was reading them. The better part of the first year of my blog’s life was pretty much a waste, as far as building a readership because I was doing nothing to entice people to my blog. It wasn’t until I started interacting with the blogging community that things began to take off for me. Bloggers whose posts I commented on dropped by to see if they were interested in what I had to say. I took part in challenges and prompts and people found me through those. A few bloggers who liked me a lot shared my stuff on their websites and/or linked to me so that their readers might find their way to my blog. My blog is not an enormous success by any stretch of the imagination, but my readership has quadrupled since this time last year, and I’ve got a hell of a lot more followers than I once had. And it’s all because of networking, or in other words, “being a good neighbor”.

I’m writing this post and scheduling it in advance, but rest assured that I have commented on many new blogs this day and will comment on many more in the future. After all, we want to keep the neighborhood friendly, am I right?

Fiction Fragment Fridays: What Will You Write? Edition #3

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Today’s “fragment” is another entry for Jay Dee Archer’s ongoing “What Will You Write?” series of writing challenges. I have to admit that I almost skipped this one because I’ve been really busy lately and I didn’t think I could spare the time required to actually put thought into writing something (me brain tired), but in the end I was reluctant to miss the challenge. For one thing, I’ve already participated in the first two and I kinda want to keep going because I like accomplishing these kinds of challenges, and for another thing I realized that it would probably take me just as much time to hunt down something else to post for today. So, here we are.

As always, the beginning of the story (in bold) is Jay’s prompt, and what follows is my entry to the challenge. As a fun side note, since I won the first challenge, I’ve been invited to write the prompt for next week’s edition. Look forward to it!


The pride of lions stalked us.  Their hungry eyes focused on my little one, my only daughter.  She didn’t understand the danger.

I warned her, three infrasonic grunts.  “Come close to me,” I said.

She shook her head and stumbled.  The largest lioness crept closer to my daughter.  I couldn’t wait any longer.  I charged at the group and they scattered.  But there were too many of them, I realized.

I cried out to the herd – a single long, loud blat – but I couldn’t tell if they’d heard me because suddenly I was knocked to the ground as clouds of sand and dirt flew up into the air all around me. I heard my daughter cry out and I squealed for her to run, but it didn’t really matter. The pride had a new prey now, and my body would feed a lot more hungry lions than my daughter’s would.

A part of me wanted to just let them take me down, if it meant that my daughter would be safe, but survival instinct is a very powerful thing. I simply could not ignore it. I began to kick and thrash with all of my strength. I felt my hind leg connect with one of the lion’s jaw and heard it snap. With my trunk I managed to grip one of the smaller beasts around one leg and I used all my strength to throw it as hard and far as I could. I heard it cry out as it hit the ground and I couldn’t help but feel a morbid sense of accomplishment.

My small victory was short-lived. A pair of jaws found their way to my throat. The pain was immeasurable. I cried out again, and I thought I heard a reply but I couldn’t focus. I was weakening, covered in a blanket of teeth and claws. I was going to die, I realized, and I didn’t have the strength left to do anything about it. I could feel the darkness coming. There was a thrumming in my ears that was surely the rushing of blood from my body.

No…no, this sound was something else. It was getting louder.

The ground was vibrating against my skin, I realized. So that meant that the sound I was hearing was actually…

Trumpeting cries filled the air, barely audible above the sound of a hundred feet pounding the ground. One lion went flying from my body in a wide arc as a trunk caught it full on the side of it’s body. Two more roared angrily and ran off of their own accord. The world around me was noise, noise, noise. It was beautiful.

I felt as though I’d fallen asleep. The next thing I knew I was looking at my daughter’s face through moist eyes. She was nudging me with her trunk, making sad little squeaky noises. For a moment I thought that she was hurt and I almost panicked, but I then I realized that she was crying for me.

There were a few others from the herd standing around me. I could hardly make them out through the haze in my eyes. One of them trumpeted at me: “Can you get up?”

I felt suddenly very old, very tired, and very sad. But I couldn’t help looking into my daughter’s eyes then. I reached out with my trunk and wiped the moisture from her eyes.

“I’ll try.”

 

Snapshot Stories: Puppy Tales!

It is unprecedented for me to post on one – never mind both – days of the weekend, but when I saw The Daily Post’s prompt for today I couldn’t resist:

Open the first photo album you can find – real or virtual, your call – and stop at the first picture of yourself that you see there. Tell us the story of that picture.

Most of my photos are on my computer, so I opened the folder and picked a completely random spot to stop. The first picture of myself that I came across was this one, which I combined together with another because it’s better if you can see all three dogs:


These photos were taken several years ago when my hubby and I were visiting a friend who lives in another province. At the time that friend was living in the basement of his friends, and those friends are great animal lovers. Aside from a few reptiles – and was there a huge spider? I think there may have been a huge spider… – they had these three dogs. I can’t remember their names now, but the little fella is a mini-pinscher who also happened to be the runt of his litter, the brown one with the pink collar was a mutt of some kind, and the horse, er, big fella was a boxer-rottweiler mix, if I’m remembering correctly. When I first saw the big guy it was because someone had opened the basement stairs and he came barreling down to see who the strangers he was smelling were. I very nearly had a heart attack. Believe me, this picture does not do him justice. The friend we were visiting is about 6’2″, and when this beast of a dog stood on his hind legs he was almost looking the friend right in the eyes. Luckily he was about the gentlest thing you’ve ever seen. He would even chase the mini-pinscher, literally scoop it up in his mouth, then spit it out and go chasing again.

But the best part of these three dogs was the tricks. Each of them had their own. The little one, when told to “Go crazy” would bounce around in circles and do little flips. The medium-sized one would leap into your arms if you patted your chest (they didn’t warn me about that one and I almost dropped the poor thing). The big fella would “fight”, which is to say that if you lifted your fists and asked him “Wanna fight?” he’d jump up on his hind legs and bat his pays at you like he was boxing.

The three of them were extremely cute, friendly, and funny, and it made my day when I managed to get all three sitting with me at the same time. 🙂

Great Expectations: A Published Novel

I’ve been meaning to participate in one of The Daily Post‘s daily prompts for a while now, and this one seemed like an excellent one to start on. The prompt is as follows:

Tell us about one thing (or more) that you promised yourself you’d accomplish by the end of the year. How would you feel once you do? What if you don’t?

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, or if you’ve ever seen any of my “Accountability Wednesday” posts, you probably already know the answer. I have four goals for the year 2014, and of those four the most important one is to completely finish and publish my zombie apocalypse novel, Nowhere to Hide.

Look! I've already got the cover made up!
Look! I’ve already got the cover made up!

My other goals are are important to me as well, but this is the one that I feel I must accomplish, even when I don’t feel at all like working on it. A little while back I officially decided (if only in my own mind) that I am going to self-publish this, my first ever novel. I did a lot of research and weighed a lot of pros and cons, and what really brought me to a decision was the timing. For the past few years zombies have been kind of a big thing – there are tons of movies, books, TV shows, and video games that have taken advantage of that trend. But that zombie love is on the downward trend. If you want to jump on the zombie bandwagon, the time to do so is fading, and fast. And that’s why traditional publishing isn’t really an option. Even if I did manage to snag a contract with one of the big publishers, it could take months or years to do so (since many publishers insist that they be given exclusive chance to check out your manuscript before ultimately rejecting it), and even after all of that the traditional publishing market is extremely slow. If even half of the sources that I’ve read are telling a quarter of the truth, even after scoring a contract you can expect to wait years for an actual physical copy of your book to be printed. In all that time, zombies could easily become the last thing in the world that people care to read about.

Thus, it’s self-publishing for me, at least this time. But even with that decision made, I still have to, you know…finish the manuscript. I’ll give myself a few props: the story is written, edited, and beta-read. What I’m currently struggling with is the last set of edits, which includes a couple of small revisions that I’ve been struggling to get myself to work on. The problem, I think, is that while I believe these changes will make the story better overall, I also dread actually having to make them because I’ve never done such a thing before. In the past, when I’ve decided that something in one of my stories required changing, I would – though it’s outrageously counter-productive – re-write the entire thing. I’m not sure why, but I find it extremely difficult to change something in the middle of the story. I can change it as I approach it, via a complete rewrite, but actually going into a chapter in the middle of a story and taking stuff out in order to put other stuff in…somehow the process eludes me. It’s like novel surgery, and I haven’t been properly trained.

And yet, I’ve sworn to myself that it is going to be done, and while I’ve given myself the year, I would really like to see it done by October so that I can promote sales for Halloween.

How will I feel once I’ve done it? Outrageously good. Productive. Like an entrepreneur. Accomplished. I’ll feel like a real author.

If I don’t get it done? Well, let’s just go ahead and not find out, okay? Okay.

Prompts

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

10. Creative prompts for other writers

Now here’s a twist. Usually I’m the one searching for prompts, not the one giving them. I’m concerned about my ability to come up with a prompt that is actually useful, so if you come across this list and decide to use one of the prompts I’ve given, please let me know if it was any good! 🙂

– Your character wakes up on a perfectly normal day, has breakfast, gets ready for the day, and walks out of their home to find…silence. Every other human (or if you’re really keen, every other creature) on the planet has mysteriously vanished overnight, with no signs as to what may have happened to them…

– Your character is vacationing on a sunny resort, perhaps taking a walk on the beach, when all of a sudden they are grabbed from behind and dosed with chloroform…

– Your character is a futuristic astronaut, exploring new worlds for breathable atmospheres and signs of life. On a newly discovered planet, on which your character is supposed to have been the first person to set foot, your character stumbles across a small human child, playing all alone in a field…

– Your character finds his/herself standing alone on a busy city street with no recollection of how they got there or who they are. All they have is their wallet, full of credit cards and store membership cards, but their ID has been stolen…

Hope these help someone! 😀