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.

What Scares Me Most

wpid-writing-101-june-2014-class-badge-2-1.png.pngToday’s challenge may actually require a bit of thought and planning, because as I’ve mentioned before I have little trouble writing in my own voice, but today I’m going to be doing the exact opposite.

We all have anxieties, worries, and fears. What are you scared of? Address one of your worst fears. Today’s twist: Write this post in a style distinct from your own.


Spiders, creepy-crawling on my skin. Ugly moths and millers flying ’round my head. Wild creatures with sharp teeth and long claws.

But these don’t scare me most.

House fires. Burglaries. Hearing strange noises at night when I’m home alone.

But these don’t scare me most.

Starting a new job with new people. Lots of turbulence on a flight. Having stomach trouble during a long trip.

But these don’t scare me most.

What scares me the most, the fear that I keep deep inside, is the all-encompassing fear that every parent lives with from the moment their child is born: the fear of anything bad ever happening to this precious creature who means more than anything else in the world.

That is what scares me most.

To Whom it May Concern


Today’s Writing 101 challenge is a little weird and random, but it’s my personal belief that the best writing is a little weird and random, so let’s get down to it!

Pick up the nearest book and flip it to page 29. What’s the first word that jumps off the page? Use this word as your springboard for inspiration. If you need a boost, Google the word and see what images appear, and then go from there. Today’s twist: write the post in the form of a letter.


(My word is “hydraulic”.)

To the Creators of Hydraulic Equipment:

Could you have possibly created a more frightening method of moving machinery? To the untrained eye the hydraulic system seems pretty innocuous: you get some fluid oil, you put it under pressure, and that pressure moves the equipment by “pushing” back. Pretty cool, right? Wrong!

If a hydraulic hose bursts it’s not just a huge mess: it’s a death trap. Hydraulic oil at high pressure will escape from a hose almost too fast for you to react, and if that pressure was, for instance, holding up an aerial work platform? Well, let’s just say that things are going to go south real fast.

And have you ever seen someone get hydraulic oil blasted throuh their skin at high pressure? It can only take a tiny drop, and it may only feel like a small pinch at first, but then all of a sudden your skin is turning strange colors and your muscles begin to be poisoned. The next thing you know you’re on an operating table with your skin peeled back and pinned down while doctors cut open your muscle tissue to try to chase down the oil and remove every last drop from your body. And even after all that, there’s no guarantee that the damage that was caused will be totally reversed.

Look, I know that forthe most part hydraulics are safe and very useful, and that statistically these kinds of accidents don’t happen very often. I’m just saying that hydraulic systems hold a special place in my nightmares and I can’t stand next to one without feeling like I’m going to pass out from the accompanying panic attack.

So yeah. Thanks for that.

Sincerely, Your Friendly Neighborhood Hydrauliphobe

Points of View: Three Tales in One


** In case you noticed that this is the second post today and that things seem to have gotten temporarily out of order, yeah, this post was meant for Tuesday but somehow didn’t get scheduled. Oops! Let’s continue on with our lives now…**

Point of view is something I struggle with as a writer, mainly because of personal preference. I can understand that first-person narrative has it’s place, but I much prefer third-person. When you write in third-person, however, changing point of view can be tricky to accomplish. The narrative “voice” begins to emulate the main character, and thus if you change views to another character suddenly that “voice” doesn’t sound right anymore. That’s my experience anyway.

Today’s assignment aims to help us get used to switching points of view.

A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene. Today’s twist: Write the scene from three different points of view: from the perspective of the man, then the woman, and finally the old woman.


The Man

Roger looked up at the trees as he walked, wondering what kind they were and whether one would look good in his front yard. He felt a hand snake into his and turned to smile down at Emily. She gave him a playful little wink and swung his hand as they continued down the path. They walked in silence. That was one of the many things Roger loved about Emily – she didn’t feel the need to fill the air with idle chatter.

A little further down the path there was an open area with a duck pond and a semi-circle of wooden benches. The only current occupant of the benches was a woman of about sixty, lazily knitting with bright red wool. Roger’s eye was drawn to the red knit creation. It was a very small sweater. A child’s sweater.

Roger stopped dead in his tracks, almost pulling Emily down in his abruptness. He felt a burning sensation rise in his throat, and before he could stop himself there were tears springing to the corners of his eyes.

“Honey, what’s wrong?” Emily asked. She looked in the direction Roger was staring, and it was clear she didn’t understand.

“The sweater,” Roger croaked. Embarrassed, he swiped at his eyes to chase away the treacherous tears. “The red sweater.”

Emily’s eyebrows knitted together. She looked at the old woman and back to Roger again.

“It’s stupid,” Roger grumbled. He had no idea how he was going to redeem his manliness after this. “It’s just that… My mom… She was knitting a red sweater for the baby. She never got to finish.” Unable to look Emily in the eye, he reached out and placed both his hands on her bulging belly.”

After a moment, Emily wrapped her arms around Roger’s waist, and together they stood and worked through the moment. “It’s okay, honey. It’ll be okay.”

The Woman

Emily took a deep breath of fresh air and reveled in being amongst nature for the first time in days. She understood why Roger had wanted to stay sequestered away inside for a while, but she’d begun to get a little shack-wacky herself.

Speaking of Roger, he’d been staring quite studiously at the trees for quite some time now. She sidled up next to him and twisted her fingers into his. He turned at the touch and gave her a sweet, but sad, smile. She winked and pulled him along with a playful swing of the arm. She longed to ask him what he was thinking about, but she bit her tongue instead. She didn’t want to tormet him.

She rubbed her belly with her free hand as they walked. It was getting close. Any day now.

All of a sudden Roger stopped dead and Emily – still holding his hand – nearly went toppling over backward from her own momentum. She almost admonished him for stopping so abruptly, but when she turned to look at him she saw tears in his eyes.

“Honey, what’s wrong?” she asked. She followed his haunted gaze, but all she saw was an old woman knitting on a bench.

“The sweater,” Roger replied in a hoarse voice while wiping tears from his face. “The red sweater.”

Emily frowned a little and looked back at the old woman. Sure enough, she seemed to be fashioning a small red sweater.

“It’s stupid,” Roger grumbled. He sounded like he was trying his very hardest not to burst into sobs. “It’s just that… My mom… She was knitting a red sweater for the baby. She never got to finish it.” His glassy eyes fell to the ground and his hands reached out to caress Emily’s belly.

She felt her heart break for him. It was going to be like this for a while, she told herself. He was going to keep being reminded of her by every little thing.

After a moment she wrapped her arms around her dear Roger and held him close. One day at a time, she told herself. One day at a time. Aloud she cooed quietly, “It’s okay, honey. It’ll be okay.”

The Old Woman

Ester chose her bench in front of the duck pond and gingerly lowered her old body down onto the seat. She observed the playful ducklings for a little while before pulling her purse onto her lap. She rummaged through the mess that was in the large bag. One by one she pulled out her two knitting needles, her ball of red yarn, and her most recent project.

As she readied herself to put the final touches on the little red sweater, the senior nurse thought about the reason she had decided to take on this particular project.

She should have retired ages ago, but she just enjoyed her work at the hospital so much. Taking care of people was important to her, especially at this stage in life in which she had no one of her own to take care of. So she stayed, and it was because she stayed that she had come across the Anderson lady.

Ester had only spoken to Mrs Anderson once, when she’d been covering a shift for one of her coworkers. The chart outside Mrs Anderson’s door had indicated that she was terminal, and that it would be any day now, but when Ester entered the room she was surprised to find the dying woman sitting up in her bed, hands busy knitting what appeared to be a little red sweater. She told Ester that the sweater was for her grandchild, whom they were all still waiting for. She said it all with a smile on her face.

Ester cried when she found out that the lovely, high-spirited lady had passed on before that grandchild arrived. She cried again when she cleaned out the hospital room and found the unfinished red sweater sitting in a drawer next to the bed. She decided right then and there that she had to finish the sweater. She would worry about tracking down the family later…when she had the finished product ready to give to them.

She was sure that having this last present from their matriarch would make them so happy. She smiled at that thought as the knitting needles clicked and clacked away.

Blogging 101, Day Thirty: Pat Yourselves on the Back!


You know what’s awesome? You, you glorious blogger you! And you know what else is awesome? Giving kudos where kudos are due.

Day thirty, the last day of the challenge, assigns you to visit and congratulate five other Blogging 101 bloggers, and set a goal for the next thirty days.

Finishing a blogging challenge or event is a sign of committment and dedication (and, apparently, redundancy), and that deserves a bit of recognition. So once you’re finished patting yourself on the back, give a pat to some of the fellow blogging challenge participants who completed the journey alongside you.

As for setting a new goal for the next thirty days, I challenge you to go farther. Set yourself a goal for the next thirty days, and then for the three months after that, and then for the year after that. Never stop setting goals for yourself because that’s when you start to stagnate. Push forward, and try to have fun doing it!

My next blogging goal? Well, you’ll just have to stick around and find out!

Blogging 101, Day Twenty-Nine: Plan the Next Thirty


It humors me that I should be writing about this particular topic at this particular time. Did you know that at this moment you are reading words that were written over thirty days ago? Yes, at this precise moment (over thirty days in the past), I was planning out over a month’s worth of blog posts to give myself some breathing room for other projects and goals.

Planning is super important if you want to keep your blog regularly updated and your brain functioning stress-free. Therefore, today’s assignment is to sketch out an editorial calendar to cover your next thirty days of blogging.

One of the best things I’ve done for myself in a while was to buy a little personal organizer notebook to help keep track of my blog scheduling. It helps so much to have a visual of what I’ve got planned, or to keep notes on ideas that I have for future posts. I can’t tell you how confused I would be trying to plan stuff ahead of time without being able to easily visualize what I’ve already done and what is left to do.

So do yourself a favor: grab an organizer, a calendar, or find a smartphone app that you like, and get planning. You’ll thank yourself later, I promise.

Blogging 101, Day Twenty-Eight: Create a New Feature


Regular posting (three days a week, five days a week, or whatever you choose) is very important to maintaining readership because people won’t stick around your blog if there’s extended periods of nothing new for them to read. A helpful trick to help achieve this is to have a “feature” on your blog – that is, something that you do every week so that people keep coming back to check it out.

Today’s assignment is to develop a regular feature for your blog.

An example of a feature would be my would be my “Fiction Fragment Friday’s”. Every Friday I post an excerpt, short story, or drabble of fiction writing of my own design. It gives readers who enjoy my writing something to look forward to each week.

Another example would be Jay D Archer’s “What Will You Write?” challenges. Readers look forward to seeing what the next prompt will be, participating in the challenge, and returning later to see who won and what the other participants have written. The key is that it keeps people coming back for more.

So think about your blog, your readers, and try to work out something that you can feature on a regular basis. Your stats page will thank you.

Blogging 101, Day Twenty-Seven: Build on the Popular


On day twenty-five, when talking about saving drafts and scheduling ahead of time, we mentioned looking to your most popular posts for further ideas. Today we’ll carry on with that concept viathe day twenty-seven assignment, which is to find the post that has recieved the most views, likes, or comments, and write a related follow-up post.

Now, I’m not actually going to complete this assignment today, but I’ll explain how I’ve already done so before and how it worked out.

When I first began traveling out West for work, my blog was still in its infancy. One day I decided to write a post – mostly for my friends and family – describing a common day for me out at Kearl Lake, where I was working. That post, to this day, is my most visited post for a variety of reasons. Now here’s where the follow-up part comes in. That first post recieved a lot of traffic from wives and girlfriends of Kearl Lake workers, nervous about the possibility of their significant others cheating on them while working away from home and living on a work camp. I began to get a lot of comments from these women, asking me loads of questions, and eventually I was prompted to write another post, both as a follow-up to the Kearl Lake post, and as a stand-alone post on the importance of trust in a relationship. That post is currently my second most viewed post ever.

The moral is that success begets success, so don’t be afraid to return to something that has already proven itself to be a popular, traffic-grabbing topic.

Blogging 101, Day Twenty-Six: Extend Your Brand


It may seem like a strange concept, but once you decide to become a public blogger, you’ve essentially branded yourself as an online good for consumption. And if you want to be regularly consumed by lots and lots of people (get your minds out of the gutter!) You have to market that brand.

Today’s assignment is to extend your brand with one of the following: a custom Blavatar, a custom image widget, or a Facebook Fan Page.

Advertising tends to be a foreign world to many artistic types (writers, for example), and personally I think that’s okay, because we live in a world where traditionally advertising methods have become so intrusive and annoying that most of us just ignore them completely. Be honest: how often do you actually click on the frustrating pop-up that appears right in front of the website you’re trying to check out? No, these days we have to do our advertising in a more polite, user-friendly way, by working it into the things that people are already enjoying.

Example: the Facebook Fan Page. Creating one for yourself gives Facebook users the opportunity to “follow” you, even if they’re peoplewho wouldn’t normally visit a blog on a day-to-day basis. I myself created my Fan Page (i.e. Author Page) a few months ago, and now I have 91 non-blog-following-people who check out my posts just as often as my actual WordPress followers.

Give a Fan Page a try! You might actually enjoy it!

Blogging 101, Day Twenty-Five: Save a Few Drafts


Planning blog posts ahead of time is something that I became intimately familiar with when I first started working out West. For most of us blogging is something that we have to work in around family, work, and other parts of everyday life, so planning ahead and collecting ideas for future posts becomes a very helpful habit to help keep your sanity.

Today’s assignment is to look back over what you’ve published. What have you been most proud of? What are the common threads? Which are most popular? Create and save two draft posts with ideas that come from those.

Looking at what readers have enjoyed reading in the past is an excellent way to decide what sorts of topics to keep blogging about. For instance, I regularly get a lot of feedback when I write about kids and memories from childhood that most people can relate to, so I make an effort to blog about those kinds of things as often as I can.

Going back over your old work can also give you lots of ideas for new posts by making you rethink what you’ve previously written. Nothing is ever written in stone, so you should feel free to go back and rewrite posts, or change your mind about a previous statement, or write a response to yourself. Bring the past into the future.

And always try to keep ahead of yourself, as I’ve learned time and time again. Getting some ideas down and scheduling a few posts in advance really takes the pressure off when real life smacks you in the face.