A-to-Z Challenge 2016 Theme Reveal

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I love the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. For those of you who don’t know what it is, it’s a challenge to write a blog post every day (except Sunday) for the entire month of April. That works out to 26 days, and so each day of the challenge requires the use the the next letter in the alphabet.

The Challenge isn’t without it’s difficulties…some letters such as Q and X are things of pure evil that have many a challenger struggling to come up with the most half-hearted of post ideas. But it’s also a ton of fun, and it has the advantage of allowing me – a rampant procrastinator – to plan out and schedule an entire month’s worth of blog posts in advance. Woo-hoo!

There’s another aspect to the challenge though: the theme. You don’t have to have a theme to participate – you can just write off the cuff about whatever you think of for each particular letter, if you want – but a lot of people find it easier to figure out what they’re going to write if they’ve got something specific to focus on. I, personally, agree, which is why I’ve stuck to themes each year so far. Last year I did a month talking about video games; the year before it was my favorite pop culture characters (from books, movies, TV shows, or games). Both themes were tons of fun, but also required a fair level of research (finding pictures for the posts, tracking down important dates, fact-checking stuff to make sure I didn’t misspeak on anything). This year I don’t really want to get into something like that because these days I spend a lot more of my previously-free time on YouTube, and last year at this time I wasn’t working, whereas now I’m one of my weird-and-exhausting out-West shifts. So I decided to focus on something a little closer to home, a little easier for me to write about right from the cuff, and something that also definitely belongs on this blog, the blog of a writer.

This year, for the 2016 A-to-Z Challenge, I’m going to spend my 26 days talking about my current work-in-progress, a 4-book series that I’ve tentatively titled “The Other World”. I’ll be talking about my characters, the world, the creatures, and whatever else I can think about that will suit the letter requirements of the day. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll get some people excited for the eventual release of Book One. 🙂

So that’s the big reveal…is anyone excited? I sure hope someone is!

NaNo Ahoy! (And a Reminder for November’s Posts and “Goals Review”)

NaNo-2015-Participant-BannerAhoy fellow writers (and lovely readers)! It’s November 2nd, which means that NaNoWriMo 2015 is on it’s way! November 1st is always a bit difficult for me because we do Halloween pretty big in my family, and we also usually go out shopping and scouring for discounted Halloween stuff the next day… BUT, I did managed to write almost 1700 words last night, which puts me right on track for the beginning of the challenge! Hopefully I can get a little bit ahead today and we’ll really be rolling!

But the real reason for this post is to remind you all that I plan to take it easy on the blog this month. The point, of course, is mainly to be able to focus on NaNo, because life is busy and I do hope to actually complete the challenge this year. So the first post I’ll be skipping is my monthly goals review post. I’ll just tell you quickly that I haven’t been taking very good care of myself, and that I wrote 11,161 words in October. BAM, you’re updated. XD

There won’t, however, be NO activity on the blog this month. I do still plan to do the Insecure Writers Support Group post this Wednesday, and I will be doing “unboxing and review” posts throughout the month to coordinate with YouTube videos that I’ll hopefully be posting over the next couple of weeks…I have a ton of unboxings to do this month, so I can’t possibly let those slide while I’m doing NaNo.

But that’s it! Other than that it’s all about the writing! So with that in mind, leave me alone you guys! I need to be writing! D:

Ready, Set, Write!

It’s very nearly that time of the year, ladies and gentlemen. No, not Christmas, although that has been sneaking up on me like a predator ready to pounce. I’m actually talking about National Novel Writing Month, better known as NaNoWriMo.


If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, at its core it is a challenge: a challenge to write (at least) 50,000 words in one month, starting November 1st and ending November 30th. The unwritten rules are that you start a brand new story on that first day and that by the end of it you aim to have a complete novel, even if it’s so bad it would take holy fire to properly edit and revise it and make it readable. The reality is that lots of people also write multiple short stories, or continue on with stories they’ve already been working on; some people even write things like autobiographies, scripts, or collections of poems. There are really no hard-and-fast rules, other than the goal: write 50,000 words in 30 days.

I’ve taken part in NaNoWriMo every year since I first discovered it, even the years during which I knew I had little to no chance of completing the task, and it’s been worth it every time.

November 2010
This is the year I first stumbled across a blogger talking about NaNoWriMo. I looked into it, found the website, and immediately fell in love with the idea. Even though I was almost late to the game (it was late October when I found out about it) I decided that I just had to take part. I’d been thinking about playing my hand at writing a zombie story, so that’s what I did, and the first draft of “Nowhere to Hide” was born. That year was my first NaNoWriMo win, with approximately 50,700 words. I came in right under the wire, and although my story was a bit messy and uncoordinated I was very proud because it was the first time I’d ever written a full-length novel start-to-finish. It was my first ever completed manuscript.

November 2011
After the fun I’d had the previous year of course I was going to try NaNoWriMo out again! This time I decided to go for something completely different from what I’m used to: sci-fi. The story was “Erased”, and it featured a cast of strange characters who find themselves abandoned in what appears to be a medical facility on a planet with two moons. I had fun in the beginning, but around the middle of NaNo I was beginning to wear, with no idea of where the story was going and a lack of faith in myself to properly write a technologically-advanced world. Eventually I wound up cheating by putting “Erased” aside and writing new scenes for other stories I was working on. Though I technically rebelled against the “rules”, I did still manage to write 57,300 words that year, so I still call it a win!

November 2012
My third NaNo was my first loss in the challenge, which is funny since what I was actually doing was a rewrite of a story I’d been writing on and off for years, “Parallels”. The fact that I already had a great deal of the story ingrained into my brain didn’t help; I was simply too busy that year and didn’t have enough motivation. Still, I enjoyed taking part in the challenge and managed to write about 37,200 words that month.

November 2013
On the fourth year I tried something different yet again. While I’d already taken a shot at horror, this would be my first time writing about vampires. I wanted to write something fun that was aimed at teens and young adults, but that was actually frightening. “Bloodlust” was the story of a girl and her friends seeking out vampires because the world’s literature had lead them to believe that they were wonderful creatures, when in fact they are the monsters people once took them to be. I had high-hopes for this story, but it never really worked out in my head and I ended up abandoning it, though not before I won another NaNo with just over 50,100 words.

November 2014
Last year I didn’t have a whole lot of hope for my chances with NaNo, but I wanted to take part anyway because hey, I didn’t want to break the streak! It was my fifth year and I had a plan. I’d still been writing “Parallels” on and off throughout the years, but I’d recently decided that the story would make a much better mini-series…say, three-to-four shorter books instead of one insufferably long one. So for NaNo ’14 I decided to write that first book: “The Other World: Book One”. I ended up experiencing my worst NaNo failure yet with only about 31,900 words, but it was a huge start toward that first book (which I’m now in the process of revising) and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that!

So that leads us back here, to the impending NaNo 2015. I’m excited to participate again, although I know there’s a fair chance that it will be another loss to add to the board, because even when things don’t go my way I still gain something out of NaNo. It’s always my most productive writing month of the year, and I feel that has a lot to do with the community and the fun atmosphere that the challenge provides. It’s not just buckling down and forcing yourself to write…it’s almost a sort of game that you’re playing with thousands of people all over the world.

This year I’m trying something way out in left-field from what I’ve done previously. I’m going to be “cheating” by writing a number of shorter stories, and they’re all going to be of the erotic variety. I’ve been toying with the idea of trying my hand at the genre for a while, and I figured what better time than NaNo, when you’re forced to write quickly and without thinking too hard or looking back? If absolutely nothing else I should get a good laugh out of the whole thing, especially since I’ve decided to base my little erotica series on fairy tales (the #1 rule of erotica, apparently, is to find a kink – or theme – and stick to it, and I figured this was something I know enough about to be able to handle).

As it has been for the past few years, this NaNo will not be an easy go for me (not that it ever is). I have a few days at home during the first week of the challenge, but then I travel out West and am tortured with 12-hour work days for 14 days straight before returning home again. For this reason I’ve decided to take a bit of a break from my blog during November so that I can focus my writing exclusively on the challenge. I’ll still write something for “Insecure Writer’s Support Group” day, and I’ll still whip up the “unboxing and review” posts for the subscription boxes I have waiting for me at home as we speak, but that will be it. I’ve been meaning to take a break from the blog for a while, so I figure this is definitely the right time, don’t you think? I’ll mention this again once or twice so no one thinks I’ve disappeared or anything. 🙂

So, I guess that’s it! I’m anxiously awaiting the beginning of the challenge and curious to know how I’m going to make out this year. Is anyone else taking the plunge into NaNo-World this year? What are you writing about? What are you planning to do with your novel after you write it? Want to be writing buddies? My username is Toreshi! Hope to see you there! ❤

NYC Midnight’s “Flash Fiction Challenge”

You guys know that I’m a writer (hopefully, otherwise you haven’t been paying attention at all), and a published novelist at that. No, I’m not what you might call “successful”, but for better or worse writing is the thing I love, and I fully plan to spend the rest of my days publishing more and more novels.

So it might surprise you to find out that in all my “career” of writing since the third grade, I’ve never entered any writing competitions. Now, there may have been a school thing or two back in the day, and I once had a poem published in the local newspaper back when they had such a lighthearted feature as that, but I’ve never actually sat down and committed myself to an actual contest, of the type that involves competing against other writers for a prize.

Today I decided to change that. After months of getting emails from NYC Midnight about their “Flash Fiction Challenge“, I finally decided to bite with only a couple of days left until the entry deadline. The idea is this: competitors are divided into groups, and each group is given a genre, a location, and an object that they must use to create their piece of fiction. This is a flash fiction competition, so your creation must be less than 1000 words. Each group gets to write two stories, and are awarded points and get feedback on their pieces from the judges. The top five scorers from each group then move on to the next round.

The fact of the matter is, I don’t expect to actually win anything from this competition, as it is actually quite popular and thus there are lots of other (presumably talented) writers to hold up against. But I think it would be fun, and sometimes you’ve just got to put yourself out there and take a chance or two. Since my current manuscript isn’t nearly ready for submission to publishers, I think this will be a fun way to do just that.

So what do you think, fellow writers? Want to join me? ^_~

Why write? Well since you asked…


Note: Today’s post is courtesy of a prompt from “642 Things to Write About“. Today’s prompt is: “Why you write.”

I was flipping through the “642 Things” book this morning when I realized I’d forgotten to write today’s post, and this was the prompt that I randomly flipped to. It made me chuckle a little because of all the 642 prompts in this book, this is probably the easiest one for me to answer.

It all started (she said, ceremoniously) when I was in the third grade, and it started in an odd kind of way. You see, one night I was having trouble sleeping. I must have gotten out of bed and been playing with my toys or something, because I woke up my father. He came in my room to tuck me back into bed and I complained to him that I couldn’t get to sleep. I can remember, plain as day, he told me to close my eyes and just think about my day, play it in my head like a movie, and eventually I’d drift to sleep. I nodded and he went back to his room, and I closed my eyes. But I didn’t think about my day. I thought about more fantastical things. I imagined myself in a crazy story, with monsters and heroes and lots of fun and danger. And eventually, I fell asleep.

That became my nighttime routine. Every night I would imagine myself in a “movie” in my head. Sometimes I’d be fighting alongside my favorite superheroes, sometimes I’d be the damsel in distress, and sometimes I’d just think of the craziest thing I could imagine. I enjoyed making up these stories in my head so much that sometimes I’d wake up in the morning actually excited to get to bed that night.

Then I found a better outlet, thanks to a school assignment. We were to write an original short story, paste it on construction paper, draw a cover, and bind it all together. I nailed that assignment, let me tell you. I couldn’t tell you for the life of me what the story was about, but I can tell you that I called it, “The Mystery of the Emerald-Eyed Cat”, and I drew two creepy green cat eyes on my cover, and I got an excellent grade.

That was the first real story I ever wrote, and it started one hell of a lifelong desire. In those early days, and for many years afterward, I mostly wrote stories featuring myself and my friends, because I was basically writing down my nighttime “movies”, but as time went on I moved on to fan-fiction and more professional fiction as well, and the rest is pretty much history.

So why exactly do I write? Because, to be honest, I’m still that little girl laying in bed trying to get to sleep. It may sound funny to people who have trouble sleeping because they think too much, but I still lull myself to sleep by telling myself stories in my head, and these days those stories are the scenes for the books that I write. Playing those thoughts and ideas through my head every night is something that I think I’ll always do, and as a result I think that I’ll always write because since that first story I’ve always felt the need to get the thoughts out of my head and onto the paper. ❤

Accountability Wednesdays: Week 45


Ladies and gentlement, we are a week and a half into National Novel Writing Month, and I am exhibiting signs of writing insanity and breakdown! I am getting constant comments from coworkers on how I can possibly write so much by hand and not be in horrible pain. And then, on “Double Up” day (when you are encouraged to double your word count for the day), I wrote so much that I genuinely was in a great deal of pain (luckily it felt better by the next morning). Today my pen started to act up, and upon examination I had run it completely dry…the same pen that I had pulled fresh from the pack less than five days prior! And now I’m getting into the giddy multiple-personality stage of the game, wherein one voice is screaming at me about how horrible the story is, and the other is screaming that editing is for December. My GOD, do I love NaNoWriMo!

But I digress. Let’s get this accountability nonsense out of the way, shall we?

Goal #1. Lose ten pounds and become healthier overall.

Let’s not mince words here, people. This goal means nothing to me at the moment. How can I think about weight loss when I’m trying to HANDwrite almost 2000 words per day (whilst simultaneously working 12 hours a day)? I can’t, that’s how! Then again, all this writing has been distracting me from eating maybe there’s something to be had there…

Anyway, the real important thing is that the meds my doctor gave me seem to be helping quite a bit. There’s still an anxiousness factor that I can’t seem to get past, but hopefully as time goes on and I have fewer issues, the anxiousness will abate. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Goal #2: Be more active on social media, and work harder on my author platform.

Man, I have been ALL over Twitter this week. I’m just sayin’. Mostly that’s been because I’ve been hanging out and chatting with the #NaNoWriMo crowd, but that’s all good. It’s been keeping me (somewhat) sane through all the writing sprints.

In future news, I have my first ever Influenster Vox Box waiting for me when I get home next week, and I should also have my second ever BzzAgent campaign box waiting for me by then as well, so look forward to some fun! The Vox Box has a game for my daughter to play, so that should be tons of fun!

Goal #3: COMPLETE my zombie apocalypse novel, Nowhere to Hide.

Nope, still not tired of reporting the completion of this goal. Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

On an unrelated note, buy my book! 😀

Goal #4: Write 500,000 words.

Obviously I’ve gone a little wacky this week, and it’s mostly the symptom of this goal, exaccerbated by NaNoWriMo. I have been writing like the wind, killing my wrist, and putting together a manuscript that I really hope I will be able to make something off in the months following NaNoWriMo. If I were able to write by laptop (since I’m out at work I am severely limited in what I can accomplish) I would probably have twice the word count, but I am happy to report that as of your reading this I have already written 18,598 words for NaNoWriMo so far. Now, not all of those words were this week, but if you tack on the words I wrote for recent blog posts it makes this week’s total 16,723. And remember, the overwhelming majority of that was BY HAND. I’m going to be crippled by the time I get home to my laptop, but I’ll have one hell of a notebook to bring with me.

And with that all said, I need to lay my head down for a moment and “rest my eyes”. If you hear snoring, don’t worry, it’s just, um…the gears in my head turning. Yeah, let’s go with that.

An Altered Course


Note: Today’s post is courtesy of a prompt from “642 Things to Write About“. Today’s prompt is: “What could have happened to you in high school that would have altered the course of your life?”

When I was in high school we had two guidance councillors, and as graduation approached we we’re required to meet with one of them to discuss what we wanted to do with the rest of our lives. One of the councillors was pretty damn useless, but I was lucky enough to get to speak with the good one. This guy genuinely cared about each individual student’s hopes and aspirations. If you told him that you wanted to be a Hollywood actor he would gather whatever information he could locate on the best course of action to get you there. He would be sure to inform you if your aspirations were the kind that are extremely difficult to achieve, but he would never try to talk someone out of their dreams.

The day I spoke to this councillor, I had the chance to tell him about what I really, truly wanted to do: write fiction. But at the time I was scared; scared that I wasn’t clever enough, scare that I wouldn’t be successful, scared that I would become financially destitute as a result of failure. So I copped out and told him that I wanted to do something with technology, and that decision that day lead to my eventually becoming a tradesperson…quite possibly the exact opposite of creative writing.

Now, I can’t really say that it was a poor decision. After all, thanks to being a tradesperson my husband and I are in a position to be completely debt free by the time we’re in our mid 30’s. I can give my daughter everything I want to and we don’t have to worry about childcare. And my current working situation affords me large chunks of time off all at once so that we can go wherever and do whatever we wish during my days off. It is a surprisingly wonderful setup, and we have a pretty good life because of it.

But if I had made a different decision that day my life might be a lot different in many other ways. I may have taken important writing courses and gone to convetions that would helped cement my place in the writing world. I may have published much sooner, and perhaps even the traditional way. I may have an entire library of published books by now, and I might even be making some money from them. Or maybe I would have failed miserably, become destitute. Maybe I would have failed at writing fiction but found a calling in journalism or scriptwriting.

And then, I wonder, what else might have changed? If I had gone away to take part in a writing course, would I have still started dating and fallen in love with my husband? If not my life would be completely different, and I might not even be the same person at all.

In the end, the way I look at it, is that there’s no sense even thinking about it. My life may have been very different, and maybe even better, if I had made a different decision that day, but I love my life the way it turned out, and that’s all that really matters.

The Most Prized of Possessions


The last day of the Writing 101 challenge could be very simple or very difficult, depending on the person and the object chosen. I think it’s an excellent way to end the challenge, myself, so let’s get down to it.

For our final assignment, tell the tale of your most prized possession. If you’re up for a twist, go long – experiment with longform and push yourself to write more than usual.


Christmas 2007 was like any other Christmas with J and I. We’d spent too much money on each other, as usual, even though we weren’t exactly swimming in funds at the time. We’d crammed as many decorations as humanly possible into our duplex rental because we’re strangely festive for non-religious folk. We’d done all the usual traditions, like watching Chevy Chase’s “Christmas Vacation” and “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas”. And my parents had driven up the night before so they could spend the day opening presents with us.

I honestly can’t remember a great deal about the present-opening of that year. I think that J’s parents gave him an air-hockey table, but I’m not positive. There were probably a lot of video games and movies, but again, I can’t say that for sure. The only thing that I truly remember is the last present of the day.

It had been hidden in the spare bedroom upstairs until all the other presents were opened. My father helped J take it downstairs, each of them holding an end of the almost-five-foot-long box. They placed it gently down in the middle of the living room floor, and then my parents left. I remember wondering why they didn’t stick around a little while longer, but at the time they had some excuse about having to get back home in time to have dinner with the rest of the family.

So there we were, just me and J and this enormous present, and I didn’t have the slightest clue what it could be. As soon as I began opening it I knew that something was amiss because despite its size the giant box shifted as though it had barely anything in it. As I ripped the paper away I found the box from the TV we had purchased several months prior. And inside that box? Another box.

Now I knew the game, but it was far from over. The first box had been stuffed with loose cardboard to keep the second box from shifting around. The second box was stuffed with loose wrapping paper to keep a third box from shifting around. And it went on like that…and on…and on…until finally, more than a little confused, I pulled a white envelope out of the last box. From inside the envelope I pulled a plastic sheath, in which was contained a beige-and-red pamphlet that read the words “Charm Diamonds” and “Warranty Plan”.

I hadn’t noticed when I was examining the envelope, but J had gotten down on one knee, so when I looked up from the warranty papers in bewilderment it was to see him kneeling there with a ring box in his hands. Yes, that was the day my husband asked me to be his wife, and presented me with the most beautiful ring I’d ever seen; a white gold band with a single oval-shaped diamond with an X cut into the top…a “princessa” cut.

At the time, of course, my mind was pretty firmly locked on the fact that I’d just been proposed to, but the choice of ring became a lot sweeter once I’d heard about the purchase of it. It seems that when relentlessly confronted with square diamonds (which he knew I don’t like) and bands with multiple small diamonds (which he doesn’t like), he eventually wound up telling a store clerk that he wanted me to have something unique, something that not every other girl we knew had.

It just seemed like a super-sweet gesture, and knowing that he’d picked out the ring himself (with minimal input from his mother) made it somehow that much more special.

I’ve never been a huge jewelry person, usually only wearing any on special occasions, but the only times this ring has left my finger in the past seven years has been when there was a chance of losing it, or getting it disgustingly dirty, or when my job required it (you don’t wear rings when you’re dealing with electricity and moving machinery). I still think it’s the most beautiful ring I’ve ever seen, and it helps remind me (especially when I’m at work, 3000 miles from home) that I have someone who loves me and wanted to spend the rest of his life with me.

Yeah, I think that qualifies as a “most prized” possession.

Act the Age You Want to Feel

wpid-writing-101-june-2014-class-badge-2-1.png.pngI’m not entirely sure whether the Writing 101 crew genuinely believe in the importance of free writing, or if they just ran out of ideas for assignments at this point. Either way, they start the assignment off with a very true quote from author Anne Lamatt: “I don’t think you have time to waste not writing because you are afraid you won’t be good at it.”

Today is a free-writing day. Write at least four-hundred words, and once you start typing, don’t stop. No self-editing, no trash-talking, and no second-guessing: just go. Bonus points if you tackle an idea you’ve been playing with but think is too silly to post about.


I’ve mentioned before that I think a little bit of childishness in life is a good thing. After all, you never want to grow up too much, and adulthood is stressful, so why not do fun, silly things to relieve some of that clenched-jaw-ed-ness? So today, for my free-write, I’m going to provide you with a few ideas for things to do to break out that inner, significantly-less-stressed-out, child. Side note: I have personally done every one of these things myself.

Get yourself a pack of crayons and a coloring book and have at it. Bonus points if you get the mega-pack of crayons and the book features characters you loved as a child.

I suggested this once before, a few years ago, and it still tops my list of fun, childish things to do. There’s something very cathartic about putting crayons to paper, especially if you let yourself get wacky with your color choices. Plus it’s such a mindless kind of activity that you can hardly help feeling calmer and more zen-like once you’ve created a few Crayola masterpieces.

Curl up and watch a few episodes of one of your favorite childhood cartoons.

Thanks to the internet it’s not terribly difficult to track down downloadable files of the shows you once watched as a kid, even if those shows haven’t been available on a physical media for years. So go download some Tiny Toons or Ren and Stimpy and give this suggestion a try! You might be surprised by the smiles that creep onto your face when those old friends appear on the screen. You may also find yourself groaning and cringing as you realize how lame some of your childhood favorites seem these days, but that’s actually half of the fun.

Curl up and watch a few episodes of a modern-day cartoon.

I’m gonna let you in on a secret that really isn’t very much of a secret, depending on how much attention you pay to this blog: I watch a lot of cartoons. Shocking, right? But also pretty understandable considering that I have a young kid. But what if I told you that I don’t watch cartoons with my daughter just because I don’t feel like fighting over the remote, but because I genuinely enjoy watching cartoons with her? Sure, some of them are painful (*cough*Dora*cough*), but there are lots that are genuinely fun, clever, and entertaining. Or, at least, a lot more fun, clever, and entertaining than the things adults are expected to watch, like the news and reality TV. So curl up with some Spongebob, Ninja Turtles, or a Disney flick and just enjoy the little guilty pleasure smiles that sneak up on you while you’re watching.

Go for a swing.

Go do this right now. Find yourself a swing set, whether it be the one you set up in the backyard for the kids, or the one at the local park, and start swinging. Pump your legs hard to go high and fast, and then just let yourself coast down until you slow to a gentle rock. Then try and tell me that you don’t feel at least a little better about life.

Act like a monkey.

I don’t mean literally act like a monkey, but take a cue from the way kids refuse to sit still and just climb and roll around like a fool. It helps kids expend energy, but it can actually help adults to gain energy. When I’m tired and cranky, one thing that perks me up is flipping around on the couch, hanging my head over the side, and throwing my legs up in the air. It looks goofy, but it gets the blood moving and gives me that little rush of energy. Climbing a tree would be even better, but since I don’t have any good climbing trees nearby I’ll just have to stick with my couch for now.

Think like a kid.

Some of these suggestions might require a little bit of time, planning, and working around other responsibilities, because after all, you are an adult and you have lots of things to deal with on a day-to-day basis. But there’s one thing you can do anywhere, any time of day that will immediately make you a little more carefree: think like a kid. See the world through a kid’s eyes and you can’t help but cheer up. Stuck in a boring, pointless meeting? Make up stupid songs in your head to get you through the boredom. Walking to work down a busy public street? Pretend that the cracks in the sidewalk are electrocuted and take care to avoid them. Customer in line in front of you at the fast food joint pitching a fit and holding you up? Imagine them as a big, ugly, drooling ogre and try to keep your chuckles to yourself.

Because, ultimately, what makes kids amazing is their ability to let their minds wander to happier, more amusing things, and to turn the whole world around them into an adventure. And if adults could harness that ability to just let the real world melt away every now and then…well, I think we’d all be a lot happier and a lot more stress-free.

Tween Justice

wpid-writing-101-june-2014-class-badge-2-1.png.pngAnother truly challenging assignment for today, one that may take me some time to work out in my head. It involves writing from the perspective of a child, which is actually something I’ve never done since I was a child, so this should be interesting.

The challenge also begins with a prompt, so please keep in mind that the italicized bit at the beginning is the prompt, and what comes after is what I wrote.

Today’s prompt: Write this story in first person, told by the twelve-year-old sitting on the stoop across the street. Today’s twist: For those of you who want an extra challenge, think about more than simply writing in the first-person point of view – build this twelve-year-old as a character. Reveal at least one personality quirk, for example, either through spoken dialogue or inner monologue.


The neighborhood has seen better days, but Mrs Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all grown up and moved away. Since Mr Pauley died three months ago, she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind on the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, have come to evict Mrs Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years.

I always stick my tongue out when I’m concentrating. It looks dumb, I know, but I can’t help it. My dad does it too, and mom makes fun of both of us for it, but the joke’s on her; she wiggles her nose like a bunny when she’s concentrating.

I was sticking my tongue out this time because I was trying to paint my toenails with mom’s bright red polish while my baby brother pulled on my ponytail.

“Anna! Play!” he begged me.

“In a minute, Sam,” I told him for the hundredth time. Two-year-olds are cute, but annoying.

I was just finishing my last pinkie toe when two cars pulled up in front of Mrs Pauley’s hosue across the road. At first I didn’t even really notice because I was admiring my toes, but when Sam said, “Po-wease!” I looked up. Sure enough, the first car was a cop. The second car was the ugly green one that had been showing up at Mrs Pauley’s house a lot lately.

The man who drove the green car came out first. I’d seen him a couple of times in the past few weeks. He was a creepy-looking guy with more hair in his mustache than on his head, and his clothes looked like he never washed them. Whenever he showed up at Mrs Pauley’s he would bang on the door and shout a lot, and his face was always as red as my newly-painted toes. But today he was smiling. It actually made him look creepier.

The cop who stepped out of the police car looked a lot nicer, but he didn’t have a smile on his face. In fact, he didn’t look very happy at all, and that gave me a bad feeling in my stomach.

Mr Green Car smiled all the way up to Mrs Pauley’s front porch.

By this time I was curious, so I took Sam’s hand and led him across the lawn to the side of the street so I could hear better. He was looking very interested in the police car, so he didn’t complain.

Mr Green Car stood to the side with that creepy smile on his face while the police officer straightened his hat and knocked on the door three times. There was no answer, so after a few moments he cleared his throat, knocked again, and called, “Mrs Pauley, this is the police. Could you please come to the door.”

For a while I didn’t think she was going to answer, even though I was pretty sure she was home, but then all of a sudden the door opened a crack. The police man looked like he was going to say something, but before he got a chance Mr Green Car jumped in front of the door and pushed it open with a shout. I could see the white bun on the top of Mrs Pauley’s head as she stumbled back. I found myself crying out, but Sam was the only one who heard me.

“Your time is up!” Mr Green Car was shouting. “Thought you could just avoid me forever, eh? Well it’s the LAW, Janice, and the law is on MY side today!”

The police man looked very much like he wanted to punch Mr Green Car in the face, and I wished he would. Instead he nudged the shouting man out of the way and took off his hat before speaking to Mrs Pauley. “I’m sorry, ma’am,” he told her in a quiet voice, “but he is correct. All the paperwork is in order and he is fully within his rights to evict you. Do you have anywhere else to stay?”

“Who cares?” Mr Green Car shouted. “It’s not my problem where she goes, just that she goes!”

Before I knew what I’d done I had Sam up in my arms and I was across the road. I pulled back one red-toed foot and slammed it into the back of Mr Green Car’s knee as hard as I could. He almost went right down to the ground, and the next thing I knew the police man was holding him back as he tried to lunge at me. “Why you little-!” he screamed.

“Now you listen here!” I shouted back, and suddenly all eyes were on me. “You’re a rotten, disgusting, pathetic piece of crap and you should be ashamed of yourself!”

Mr Green Car’s face turned a sickly kind of purple. The police man looked like he kinda wanted to laugh. “I understand how you feel, sweetie,” he told me, “but he does technically own the house, so it’s his right to evict Mrs Pauley if she hasn’t been paying her rent.”

I set my jaw. “That doesn’t make him any less of an ass.”

Now the police man did laugh out loud, and Mr Green Car was starting to look more pink than purple.

A hand touched my shoulder. I looked up to see Mrs Pauley’s wrinkled face looking down at me. Her eyes were wet. “Thank you, sweetie,” she whispered. “Thank you for caring.”

“She’s a very caring girl,” a voice said from behind.

I hadn’t noticed my mother come walking up behind me. She was still wearing her apron and hand a dish rag in her hand. I thought at first that she might be mad, but she had a strange smile on her face and she kissed me on the head before taking Sam out of my arms.

“Is this brat yours?” Mr Green Car growled, wriggling out of the police man’s arms.

I’d never seen my mother’s face go so red so quick. “This ‘little brat’,” she hissed, “has more human compassion in her little finger than you have in your entire body, you sniveling little monkey.” She raised a hand and pointed a finger right into Mr Green Car’s face. “I’ve been watching you, harassing this poor woman every week. What, you’ve never fallen on hard times before? You’ve never lost a loved one and had a hard time recovering?” And then my mom did something that I never in a million years would have expected her to do. She spit at Mr Green Car’s feet. Mr Green Car looked like his head was going to explode. He looked at the police man like he was expecting him to arrest her or something, but he just gave Mr Green Car a raised eyebrow. I think he agreed with my mom, even if he wasn’t really allowed to say so.

“Come on, Janice,” my mom said more gently. She extracted one arm from Sam – who was starting to squirm – and put it around Mrs Pauley’s shoulder. “I’ve got a beautiful pie baking in the oven and you’re going to come over and have some tea with us.”

Mrs Pauley was crying as they began to walk away, back across the street. I started to follow them, but I had to do one more thing first. I turned around, pushed past Mr Green Car and the police man, and pulled Mrs Pauley’s door shut, making sure that it was firmly locked. And then I stuck my tongue out at Mr Green Car and ran for my house with the police man laughing behind me as Mr Green Car’s face turned red again.