Cooler Warming 2

working-template-for-ff-challenges20.pngI have added a second 99 word installment to my first response to the Carrot Ranch challenge. I included the first here along with it, save you some clicking or scrolling perhaps. The May 23, 2019, prompt? In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story without ice. It can be a world without ice or a summer camp that runs out of cubes for lemonade. What does the lack mean to the story? Go where the prompt leads!

 

“Marge, any ice cubes left in the cooler for my beer margarita*?”

“Outta ice, we’ll have to finish framing the shed under less than ideal conditions, though there’s still beer, thank goodness.”

“It’s a cycle, Ilene, we run out of ice sometimes, but it’ll come back, like I told my nephew when he said the polar icecaps are melting.”

“Nard, you didn’t spread lies to that boy about climate change!”

“Told him things work in cycles, Marge, told him not to worry, then took him fishing.”

Kristof whispered, “Leave it, Marge, he knows; Nard cried so hard that night.”

***

Both muttering about needing something, Marge stomped stage left up the steps into the singlewide, Nard stalked stage right off to his truck leaving the others in the glare of the halogen work lamps.

“What just happened?”

“Anger flashes bright burning flame, reduce to ashes smoldering blame.”

“What Lloyd’s trying to say, Ernest, is our beloveds have been spoiling for a fight. They’d rather feel anger than grief or fear.”

“Oh. Thanks Kristof. You deal with yours, I’ll go see about mine.”

 

“Marge?”

“Just seeing if the ice trays are frozen yet.”

Ernest hugged her. “I’m afraid too, Marge.”

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Spin

this poem is a summer meadow

steep grassy slope overlooking

but these childish words look up

swim through a blue that has no terrestrial simile

blue sky white clouds green grass

the memory spins dizzied

by cloud dancing

twirling whirling

down drift the apple blossoms

soft in the breeze

blushed petals caress a child’s skyward face

and that blue sky returning the child’s gaze

saw the blossoms as white clouds on a child’s face amongst green grass

the memory spins and drifts into that green meadow

when the apple blossoms are spent.

 

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Cooler Warming

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six sentence story.jpgWell, I’m compacting curriculum here, hitting two prompts with one response, in 99 words and six sentences. If you read the extended version of  “Arch Way” on the Ernest/ Marge page you’ll know that the gang is in the yard behind the two bay garage building a Japanese pagoda-like she-shed and a Zen rock garden. Charli’s prompt this week is to write a story without ice in 99 words (no more, no less),while Denise at GirlieontheEdge would have us write a story with the word “frame” in six sentences, no more, no less. As an added bonus I am sharing Ilene’s beer margarita recipe at the end. It is tasty and refreshing and not as dangerous as you might drink. Think responsibly.

 

Cooler Warming

“Marge, any ice cubes left in the cooler for my beer margarita?”

“Outta ice, we’ll have to finish framing the shed under less than ideal conditions, though there’s still beer, thank goodness.”

“It’s a cycle, Ilene, we run out of ice sometimes, but it’ll come back, like I told my nephew when he said the polar icecaps are melting.”

“Nard, you didn’t spread lies to that boy about climate change!”

“Told him things work in cycles, Marge, told him not to worry, then took him fishing.”

Kris whispered, “Leave it, Marge, he knows; Nard cried so hard that night.”

 

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 Ilene Higginbottom’s Beer Margaritas

In a large pitcher combine a bottle of light beer, like Corona, a bottle of Mike’s Hard cherry lemonade, and a bottle of a fruity light beer or shandy. Or at least three bottles of something like that. Combine those three bottles with a half a can or so of frozen limeade concentrate and a half pint or so of tequila. Stir, add ice if you have it, and enjoy.

Earthenware (d’Verse quadrille # 80)

Earthenware

unearthed vessel

chalky white, fine-lined fissures

a potter’s art?

 

shake out the friable soil, rich

to see it is an artifact of little value

 

pictures no longer held

tattered, ashen

canvas rotted

 

all that’s left two empty frames

hollow sockets in an unearthed skull.

 

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Kim is our host at d’Verse Poets Pub today. She wants us  “to take any meaning, form or compound of the prompt word, rich, and write a poem of exactly 44 words (not counting your title).”

(I’m also consideringing a possible mashup with Six Sentence Stories prompt word “frame”)

Twofer Trees

working-template-for-ff-challenges-1.pngThe May 16, 2019, Carrot Ranch prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that goes in search of trees. It can be one particular tree, a grove, woods, or forest. What makes the tree worth seeking? Go where the prompt leads!

Trees we have written about before. A year ago they cropped up in my flash on property values. More recently the colonnade prompt led many to trees, with my three sisters turning into trees. But Charli’s daughter needs more trees. Here are two unrelated stories for her and there are many more growing at the Ranch. See more of Ernest and Marge, including an extension of this scene, HERE.

***

Arch Way

Marge supervised. The guys had come by to plant two Japanese maples, their gift to her and Ernest.

“Nuptials. Epic.”

“Lloyd, get outta the way. No guys, turn it just a bit more. There!”

“Look out Nick, she’s got a knife!”

“Shut up, Nard. Spot me.”

Standing in the wheelbarrow, Marge sliced the branches of the two maples that crossed each other over the foot worn path. Then she bound them together with cloth.

“Spliced for life, husband and wife trees. Epic.”

“We can’t get married until you finish the Zen garden Lloyd.”

“Zen what will your excuse be?”

****

Knowledge of Tree

He’d gone to her, as most did, as a last resort.

“The peace you seek is held by a special tree.”

And so he wandered. He’d crossed desert landscapes and alpine heights but none of the few trees encountered were the one. Deep in the forests he searched among the many trees, seeking the special one.

After many seasons he knew well the different tribes of trees, recognized their many gifts. Resting now, back against a sturdy trunk, cooled by the leafy whispering shade, he realized he had long ago ceased to search for the one. He sighed, content.

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Anne Goodwin, How D’ya Do?

IMG_2270.jpgAnne Goodwin does not run a writing prompt challenge from her blog but her prolific and thoughtful book reviews do challenge her readers to think and to think about what books they might like to read next.

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What part of the world do you live in and what should the rest of the world know about your place?

I live in a small town in near enough smack in the centre of England, not far from the birthplace of DH Lawrence and the supposed setting for Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

I’m a forty-minute drive from the Peak District National Park, and drew on one of my favourite walks for a scene of parent-child tension in my debut novel, Sugar and Snails. Nottingham is my nearest city and the main setting for second novel, Underneath. The region’s history of coal mining, and the legacy of the pit closures of the 1980s, inspired the final story in my collection, Becoming Someone.

What I hope will be my fourth book, and third novel, Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home, about a brother and sister separated for fifty years against the backdrop of the longstay psychiatric hospital closures, is set in Cumbria where I grew up.

Tell who you are, your blog(s) and other social media.

Given the theme of my short story collection is identity, I’d better sum myself up with an extract from the bio at the back of the book:

Alongside her identity as a writer, she’ll admit to being a sociable introvert; recovering psychologist; voracious reader; slug slayer; struggling soprano; and tramper of moors.

Website: Annethology

Blog: Annecdotal

Twitter: @Annecdotist

YouTube: Anne Goodwin’s YouTube channel

How did you come to be such a prolific reviewer of books? How do these books come to be read by you?

Although I read a lot, I hadn’t considered book blogging until I happened to win a prepublication copy of a novel on Twitter. Until then, I didn’t know that publishers would be willing to send books to ordinary people, not just for the review pages of newspapers and magazines. Childishly, I loved having books in my hands in advance of publication and still do.

In my first year of book blogging, I read about sixty books. Now it’s more than doubled. That’s partly because the books keep on coming, partly because I don’t have a social life and can read most evenings until my eyes begin to close!

Most of the books I review are novels and I receive the majority from the publishers for free. A few publishers contact me directly to ask if I’d be interested in a particular title, but mostly I request them myself after perusing the catalogues or seeing them promoted on Twitter or another blog.

If I have copies in time, I try to post my review in publication week, but I don’t always manage. That might be because I’ve overcommitted myself – a.k.a. being too greedy – or, because I’ve given myself the additional constraint of putting two reviews in one post, I haven’t yet found a suitable partner to pair it with.

Are you a reader who writes or a writer who reads?

Love your chicken-and-egg question but I doubt I’ll find as many inventive ways to answer it as you did in your witty poetry collection!

Ha! 

I’ve been an avid reader and writer since childhood, although there have been periods when writing has been side-lined, so I suppose I’m a reader first. While most readers don’t write, I find it hard to envisage a writer who doesn’t read. There’s so much we can learn from other writers and how can we ask people to read our words if we can’t make time for other people’s?

You are an accomplished and prolific writer of short stories, in addition to your novels, but I first met you at Carrot Ranch where we all write 99 word stories. Do you incorporate the exercise of that flash fiction writing into your work? Do you have an ideal word count for a short story, or a count that just seems to happen?

Initially sceptical about the possibility of writing a satisfying story in only 99 words, I’m now an addict. While I’ve developed some of those stories into longer pieces of flash fiction, most never travel farther than my blog and Charli’s online compilations. I’ve also used the prompts to rework scenes from my published and yet-to-be-published fiction; sometimes that leads to tighter writing in my longer works.

Nowadays, after lots of practice, I do have a sense of the likely length when I start playing with a story idea. A number of my stories are around 1800 words which is a reasonable length for belting out a first draft in a day or weekend. My stories have generally become shorter as I’ve honed my editing skills, although in the last few months I’ve written a couple – and have ideas for more – of around 4000 words.

I had hoped to get my short story publication count up to 100 this year, but I now think that’s unlikely. For those who are nerdish about numbers, or would like to sample my short fiction for free, you can monitor my progress on my website.

Do you have a character of yours from one of your stories who stands out for you as the most insistent or most memorable?

I don’t have children, but I imagine picking out my most memorable character would be like choosing a favourite child. But, from my collection, Becoming Someone, I’m rather fond of the mediaeval nun in “The Invention of Harmony” and the strong-minded widow in “The Witch’s Funeral”.

However, the character with a special place in my heart is Matty from my as-yet-unpublished novel, Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home. Her story is tragic, having spent most of her life in a psychiatric hospital after a life event we wouldn’t bat an eyelid at today, but she’s very jolly, albeit extremely deluded. Her character is informed by people I knew in my previous incarnation as a clinical psychologist.

How has your reading and reviewing impacted you as a writer?

I get fresh insights into what works and what doesn’t with each book I read, and reviewing helps me to push a little further in articulating that for myself and others. On the other hand, writing reviews steals time from writing my own fiction, which might be why they’ve generally got shorter.

Identifying my favourite reads of the year sharpens my sense of what I’m aiming for, even if I never get there. Reading diverse (translations, BME authors, settings around the world) helps me extend my thinking about what a character can be.

I’ve also forged relationships with authors who have particularly appreciated my reviews of their books. On the other hand, given how much we writers rely on mutual support, I’m sometimes anxious about offending those whose books I haven’t particularly enjoyed. But I’m clear that a reviewer’s first responsibility is to her readers, not to the authors or to the publishers who might supply the books.

What is necessary to your writing process?

I function best in a quiet space whatever I’m doing, and I’m lucky to be able to achieve that most of the time. Walking helps me order my thoughts and, although I can touch type, I rely on the toddler in my laptop (a.k.a. voice activated software) to get my words on the screen.

What do you want for your blog?

My blog is about reading and writing seasoned with psychology and I don’t have big ambitions other than to keep going. While I’d like it to bring my books to more readers’ attention and/or influence readers’ priorities for other authors’ books, I see it primarily as a play space. Having come of age well before the advent of the internet, I’m still chuffed that I can publish my thoughts so easily. Whether anyone reads them is another matter, but it’s great when someone leaves a comment in my virtual visitor’s book!

If you could go back, what is one thing you would have done differently regarding your blog?

Being completely clueless when I started blogging, I’m amazed how well it’s turned out. Now I’m in touch with a community of other bloggers, I often wonder if I should have gone with WordPress (not that I knew about it when I began) as it does seem to make connecting easier.

Describe or list any publications of yours.

My debut novel, Sugar and Snails, about a woman who has kept her past identity secret for thirty years, was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. My second novel, Underneath, about a man who seeks to resolve a relationship crisis by keeping a woman captive in a cellar, was published in 2017. My short story collection of 42 stories on the theme of identity, Becoming Someone, was published in November 2018. I also have approaching 90 stories published in print anthologies and online magazines.

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Thank you for coming by Anne!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plow Shares

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Her little boy and her daughters did what chores they were able to do. The boy, the youngest, wasn’t scolded when he sometimes fell to playing. But this?

Flinging the stick, she stalked off to the barn.

“Ma, it was just pretendin’!”

He’d never known his father and older brother who used to do the heavy fieldwork, who’d left together, eyes bright with adventure, assuring her, ‘Back before harvest time’.

Pressing her forehead against the horse’s broad neck she confessed her worries.

She’d not allow another son to play at war.

She harnessed the horse and hitched the plow.

***

The Carrot Ranch May 2, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about sisu. It’s a Finnish concept of enduring strength, the ability to consistently overcome. Think long-term. Go where the prompt leads!

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For Now

Many of those who mistook her royal husband for the court jester soon disappeared, so the mistake was made less often, or at least people were careful not to wonder aloud about the brightly colored buffoon that she had wed.

She herself had never found him amusing, or charming, or anything at all except rich; she had agreed to marry him only for the financial stability the arrangement bestowed, entering into the marriage contract with the frumpy older man with the understanding that she was to maintain her looks, as he believed that she made him look good. Another important clause in their business arrangement was that she was not to speak against him, in fact she was not to have any opinion or voice at all. She felt this wasn’t much to give up in return for designer clothes.

Idly looking down on the mobs that clashed in the dirty pot-holed streets below her tower, she knew she was supposed to root for the ones in the caps, the ones that supported her husband, but she really didn’t care anymore what happened to any of the people way down there in the streets. Now she was a princess, who, once upon a time, sold herself to an unstable man who’d sell his own soul to buy out the world; now she didn’t care for much of anything, content, she supposed, with her financial stability, for now.

$$$

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It’s Six Sentence Story time. The word of the week is “stable”, brought to us by Denise Farley. Click on over to GirlieOnTheEdge to read more six sentence stories or to leave one of your own.

Sammi Cox, How D’Ya Do?

IMG_2270.jpgI have enjoyed the vibe and the writing at sammiscribbles since discovering it about two years ago. Though I have only sporadically participated with the prompts put out by today’s interviewee, Sammi has prompted me to write some of my favorite pieces and to challenge myself as a writer of both prose and poetry. With her Weekly Writing Prompt Sammi presents not only a new word prompt, but a new word count, anywhere from ten to 150. 

I am so glad that Sammi agreed to this interview. I hope you enjoy learning about Sammi as much as I did. There’s much to relate to. Feel free to continue the conversation in the comment section.

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 Sammi Cox, How D’Ya Do?

Thanks very much for inviting me over to your blog today.  My name is Sammi Cox and I live in Bedfordshire, in the UK.  I’m a writer and book blogger, and spend the rest of my time making things – I knit, crochet, sew and bake.

Where I live is surrounded by beautiful countryside, including some ancient woodlands, and provides much of the inspiration for the things I write as well as many of the photos I post on my blog.  There are a great number of villages and hamlets in the area, many of which have parish churches that date back nearly a thousand years, but local history goes back even further to the Anglo-Saxons, and to a lesser extent, to the Romans and beyond.  This too influences my writing.

Besides your blog, what other social media do you use?

I’m going to admit something here…I am absolutely no good at social media, although I do try…a little bit.  I have a facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Sammi-Cox-1697023080547692/) which I use as a hub to post updates and share links to all the things I’m doing in various other places, which include:

 

Describe your prompt. 

My prompt goes live every Saturday morning (GMT).  The format for year two is simple: I choose a word and set an exact word count and participants have to write a response using the word in some way whilst sticking exactly to the word count, no more, no less.

What prompted you to undertake this?

I find prompts very useful, not to mention entertaining, in my own writing.  So I first started to post them on my blog for myself.  I went through a couple of formats over an extended period, until I settled on the Weekend Writing Prompt in May 2017.  Since then, I have learned other writers enjoy the challenges I set, and it is this which has ensured I’ve kept it up.

How do you determine the prompt word every week?

I pick words that resonate with me somehow, whether it’s because I like the way they sound, or what they mean, or whether they will provide an interesting or thought-provoking starting point for the challenge.  Sometimes the words are unusual, sometimes they are not, but I hope they are always inspiring.

How do you determine the word count every week?

When I started planning the prompts for year two, I decided to set a minimum of 10 words and maximum limit of 150 words and then randomly picked enough numbers in between for a year’s worth of prompts.

You also participate as a writer every week. What other writing do you do?

I write a lot, in some form or another.  As well as the weekend writing prompt. which I try to participate in as often as I can, I’m currently posting a serial on my blog that is inspired by another writing prompt, Crimson’s Creative Challenge hosted by Crimson Prose (https://crimsonprose.wordpress.com/).  The serial is called Lyr the Enchanter.  I’ve also recently finished the first draft of a novella called The Winter Ghost, which you can, should you wish to, read over on Wattpad. It has just been short-listed for Open Novella Contest 2019.  Alongside this I’ve been dipping in and out of a handful of novels I’ve been working on, whilst endeavouring to finish some of the unfinished stories, of varying lengths, I have accumulated over the years – there are quite a number of them…

What is necessary to your writing process?

It depends on what I’m writing. If I’m writing poetry or flash fiction, I don’t need much, just my phone, a notepad and paper or my computer.  It doesn’t matter usually what is going on around me. But for anything longer, I like to set aside a block of time where I know I won’t be disturbed by outside influences – it doesn’t take much for my mind to wander…I’m very easily distracted!  Usually I write without any background noise, so no music or podcasts, etc. but I have been known to listen to movie soundtracks or instrumental music if the style matches what I’m trying to write.  I also ensure that I break up this time I’ve set aside to give myself short breaks away from the computer.  So I might edit three chapters and then go and make a cup of tea, or write a couple of scenes and then go for a short walk.

What have you enjoyed the most hosting and participating in the Weekly Writing Prompt?

There are so many things I’ve enjoyed whilst hosting the Weekend Writing Prompt.  I love seeing how diverse the responses are to the same prompt.  Even if participants interpret the prompt in the same way, the responses are never identical.  I also like that a community has built up around it.  It’s great to see how many participants like and comment on the responses of other participants, leaving encouraging remarks or words of praise.  Finally, at the end of year one, we put together an online anthology, Outcast and Other Words (https://outcastanthology.wordpress.com/), which featured responses to all the first year’s prompts.  It was a fantastic project to be part of, and just thinking about it now makes me smile.

I’m glad you’re smiling, as I’m sure that was time and effort to produce.

What has been most surprising or instructive for you from your weekly prompt?

I’ve found being organised helps a great deal when hosting a writing prompt.  When I first started this prompt, I would write the post and challenges on the day I published them but I quickly learned that it was easier and the pressure much less, to write a bunch of them in advance.  For the second year’s worth of prompts, I wrote all 52 in an afternoon and I’ve found that has helped me a lot.  It’s also meant that I have forgotten what words I had chosen all those months ago, so the challenge is almost as much as a surprise for me each week as it is for everyone else.

You get responses from around the world to your prompt. What, if anything, do you have to say about the impact of place on writing?

I think place, especially the spirit of place, can have a great impact on writing.  The first time I really connected with this idea was when I first read Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier – I would have been in my teens.  The way the moor was described, the atmosphere it conjured…it was more than simply a setting for a story.  And this feeling not only has stuck with me throughout the years, it has influenced my own writing.  Landscape interests me.  I went to university to study physical geography so that I could understand landscape evolution.  And I do my best to channel this into my writing, whether the location I’m writing about is real or made up.

How long have you been blogging?

For a while.  To be honest, blogging is my favourite form of social media.  I’ve been posting to my book blog since 2012 and Sammi Scribbles since 2014.  Before that I had another couple of blogs which were in regular use for three or fours years.

What do you want for your blog?

I want my blog to be a place where people can go to be inspired to create something, whether that’s a poem, a piece of flash fiction or anything else.

I want my blog to be a place where people can come visit and when they leave, they do so with a smile on their face because they have read something that they can connect to.

I want my blog to be a place where I can show others my little corner of the world.

Most of all, I want visitors to my blog to enjoy what I write, because I love writing.

If you could go back, what is one thing you would have done differently regarding your blog?

One thing I would have done differently is reorient my focus when I started blogging.  To think long and hard about how I wanted my blog to look and what impression I wanted to give anyone who visited it.  When I first started, I was more concerned with content.  Was my writing good enough?  Did I have enough on the blog to keep a reader’s interest?  Would anyone actually read what I had written?  Now I think it’s just as important to have a blog that is easy to navigate, and reflects who I am and my writing.

Describe or list any publications of yours.

My short stories, flash fiction and poetry can be found in various places, both online and in print. A list of my published works can be found at: https://sammiscribbles.wordpress.com/about-sammi-cox/published-works/

At the end of 2017, Three Drops Press published my collection of tiny tales of myth, magic, folklore, and witchcraft entitled, One Turn of The WheelMore information can be found at:  http://www.lulu.com/shop/sammi-cox/one-turn-of-the-wheel/paperback/product-23444468.html

I have so many plans and things in the works (who doesn’t?!), that hopefully I will be able to add to this list soon…

Thank you so much, Sammi. I hope folks click on your links and enjoy all you have to share. 

 

#CCC #25 Stepping Stones

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Stepping Stones,     D. Avery

They used to come here often.

Now she laughed at herself, without humor, at how she’d fallen for him.

“You’re an angel,” he’d said. She’d let herself believe that he was her savior, believed at that time that he walked on water.

Of course the water was much higher then.

***

The photo and the prompt are from crimson prose . Check it out, there are few limits, you can respond with just about anything creative and original. The actual crimson creative challenge prompt is to respond, and I quote, “just for FUN, FUN, FUN”.  So I did for my first time with this weekly challenge, in fifty words, just for fun.