Friday, December 20, 2013

It's in the details...

Aaron is always running into free sunglasses, partially because he works near the beach, where they get left behind almost daily. 

Today he was wearing a pair of off-brand Ray Ban-ish shades, with one too many feminine details to keep them from a unisex classification. I endeavored to enlighten him, with hilarious results, especially when Miah chimed in at the end. 

Krisann: Those are for women.
Husband: They're fine.
Krisann: They're not the right size for your face.
Aaron: They're exactly the same size as my last ones that broke.
Krisann: They have tortoiseshell coloring.
Aaron: So?
Krisann: The print is vaguely giraffe-esque.
Aaron: What? No it isn't.
Krisann: They say "Jolie Rose" on both sides and the front.
Aaron: That says Joel Ross.
Krisann: Those are 100% ladies' sunglasses.
Miah: Those are ladytastic!
Krisann: You are so my kid.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

What happens when I'm sick...

Me: blah. please come home and take care of meeeeeee!

Me: i think i am a ghost.
Me: i coughed so much that I coughed up my soul and now I'm a computer-using ghost.
Husband: Here I come to save the DAAA- uh... NIIIIIIGGGHT!
Me: wooooOOOOooooo
Me: i'm a ghooOOooossst
Husband: Yay!
Me: yay? you want a ghost wife?
Husband: No. I thought you were saying woo. As in woohoo!
Me: you really need to read your texts better
Husband: Whatevs. Stop delaying my return!
Me: ghost wife can ONLY text so you need to work on your reading comprehension so we don't have any communication snaffus or mistaken hauntings

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Things I have woken up in the middle of the night to write down, thinking they were GENIUS, only to be baffled by them in the morning, Part 2.

In my dreamworld, these were all killer ideas.

  • Last night I dreamt that pinterest was not called pinterest, it was called Corinthians. It was pretty much the same, except we all referred to it with verse numbers. “Did you see that DIY chair makeover on Corinthians 4:13?”
  • I should write a story about a boy who wants to hide his candy, so he decides to bury it like he’s heard a dog will do to have his bone all to himself. But when he goes back to get his candy it’s been mostly eaten away by ants, and he goes on this whole educational journey to learn how the micro ecosystem of undersoil insects and bacterias functions. It’ll be a bit like Magic School Bus, except fueled by revenge. 
  • In the blurry, confused state of 6am this morning, I looked outside and saw cloud cover; rather than even a hint of blue or gray, the sky seemed rather white. My sleep-brained-self concocted a story in which the sky went entirely white one day, and all of the various communities within humanity’s reactions to it were noted. The end-timers decrying their doomsdays; the scientists working hard to discern the nature of the change while the fear mongers pointed to global warming or alien invasion in rants and raves; the conspiracy theorists with their political assumptions and, “Dude. Glitch in the Matrix!” philosophies, and so on. It was actually more stressful than you'd think.
  • Dreamed there was a dance show and one day the director announced, “Seal up the doors, we’re adding sharks!” then proceeded to add two feet of water, and several small breeds of shark to the room backstage, and one of the performers yelled, “So we’re just supposed to sit here while sharks punch our legs?”

Read the original.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Non-fiction Friday--Party Personality

First of all, my apologies on the tardiness! Sadly, small electronics seem to be capable of a lot more trouble than you'd expect. I'm going to need some professional help to dredge all the iced tea out of my macbook (resultant of my sweet toddler trying to bring a glass to me, but tripping and spilling all over my lap, and, well, laptop), but in the meantime, here are some stories. 



Being an incredibly social creature by nature (and growing up with a reputation for clowning, animated story-telling, performing, and bringing the fun energy to gatherings), meant that for most of my developing and adult life, it just didn't occur to me that not everyone had to, or should, have the same level of access to me - that I was allowed to decide, nay, that it was beneficial to decide who could hear what was inside my heart, and when. Before this revelation, personal details of triumphs and failures were dropped into any conversation by whomever asked, regardless and without much consideration. Just about any acquaintance, old friend, or newish friend could find out the details of how my day truly was going. While I can remember feeling like it was a bit uncomfortable at times, I considered myself more 'unabashed' than an over-sharer, and shrugged it off.

There is no real defining moment I can gloriously detail about how I began to change my way of thinking on this. I can say, that at one point, that
the first time a trusted adviser told me that not everyone had to know the ongoing struggles of my family's finances, I felt like I had caught my first deep breath after an asthma attack. "Yes, that feels better," I remember thinking. The rest though, has just been a slow changeover to a new way of thinking, and beginning to understand that throwing something you value (or just yourself) before the mercy of just anyone and hoping it all works out is haphazard and foolhardy at best.

It's been nearly a decade of practicing life with boundaries in place. Before, I was the 'my life is an open book' girl, and I thought that was just the way I was built, no two ways about it. The problem was that even though it always felt true, it didn't feel, for lack of a better term, safe.

I'm a big fan of the word 'intent.' Not insomuch as it has come to be known (somehow synonymous with intend), but in the classic sense. With intent, and with purpose, I take this life of mine and point it, with my love, my skills, passions, talents, and whatever I have to offer, toward my targets. I care for myself by letting only proven, trustworthy friends have access to the deep things in my life and heart.

I'm not going to go into a great deal of specifics about what that means, because realistically, it will be completely different for you. A good place to start, though, is to define what's non-negotiable for you, and move from there. Anyone who tramples on one of your non-negotiables is the first to be placed at a distance, while you see if they react well to your asking them to adjust their hurtful behavior.

If they can not, or if you're meeting someone new, remember that your inner circle and your outer circles have different levels of access to you and no one is going to take care of those boundaries for you. It's my own job to carefully guard my fences.

So, if you see me at a party and may be confused, because I seem bubbly and warm while entertaining or making people laugh, but my arms are still crossed, it's just because I'm holding my sleeves in close to my heart.


Read more essays from this prompt:
Josiah's submission
Moody's submission

Want to make one of your own? Check back for more prompts after our 
Summer break.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Flash Fiction Friday--A Room with a View

Gains And Losses

Fair cousin,

As ancients we, along our plain and path
hath traveled long and weary. Reaching on,
in sound and light, in ether and in song,
now back to you with hopeful messages
intended for your journey. Do take heed.

A little older than you am I, Dear,
as are my sisters, too. Colder, wiser,
thinner we have grown, so trust our warnings
Darling, do. We are not yet near our death,
Beloved, but less afraid of it than you.

Sweet Erde, moving farther from innocence
with each revolution, into a kind
of a sophistication. Sometimes grand,
sometimes sad. Adding riches, robbing wealth.
Always knowing, never comprehending.

Abrasive adolescence was never
the design, but here we are, emerging
as from a chrysalis, fighting toward
the debut of your brilliance. We blinked; you're
as blinding as the moment we first saw.

You were glorious then. So favored and
full. Surely as blessed as our year is long.
The skies danced in anticipation for
what you would reveal. We didn't know how
dark, Lovely, and how bright your days would prove.

We see now the turmoil. Your soul reeling,
the swelling chaos state, building behind
swirling blue. Struggle surely lies ahead,
but we plead - do not despair. Banish the
thought that you are lost from your ever-fixed mark.

Let not your aching burdens blister deep.
The gravity was lain in place by hand
for you. Flounder as you may under the weight of
the course, yet remain ever true. Oh, that
you could see yourself from Ganymede's view!


Read more stories from this prompt!
Marissa's submission
Linda's submission
Moody's submission

Want to make one of your own? Next week's prompt is NON-FICTION.

Write a short essay from the starting point, "Party Personality."

Friday, May 17, 2013

Non-fiction Friday--If I Had a Mary Poppins Bag

Hoarder Extraordinaire 

Mary, Mary, quite prepare-y, what all does your bag hold? 

Lamps and plants and hatstands and at least two mirrors, we know. 
Shoes and a coat, and measuring tape, with some unusual markings, though.

My own bag keeps some items similar in purpose and practicality, and some nothing at all like our wide-traveling Mary's.

When I find a pair of perfect jeans or favorite shoes, it stores a lifetime's supply of them, so when one pair runs out, there's no need to panic. If I don't find something I like well enough to replace them, I'll just use the next backup. 

It carries cures for the hangries (so hungry you're angry = hangry). A wide variety of snacks to fit any mood, with recommendations, for those times when you're so starving you just can't think well enough to know what you want. "Madam, you seem cranky. May I offer you a taco?"

Whenever I need art supplies, or don't quite have the right shade of colored pencil or decorative masking tape, I can find it in my bag. Furniture, too, for regular abode rearrangings, as the fancy strikes. 

Books. So. Many. Books.

Every single drawing my daughters have ever made can be found sorted, dated, and filed neatly in there. I never have to feel the wrenching debate of which to keep and which to toss. I know they're always there, to enjoy those precious details of their developing talents and love for creation, but not in a stack as high as the Chrysler Building threatening to overtake my living space. The first and subsequent 400 sketches of mermaids or fairies (pronounced 'veries,' at the moment) or princess frogs, all with curly-que eyelashes and tutu skirts, are all in there. Not a single one has had to be tossed, not ever.

Their first outfits and hats and baby blankets and lost teeth, and every time they picked weeds to bring me a bouquet. All there, forever.

Brilliantly, this bag also holds all the subtle, nuanced, precious memories associated with each item it stores. It's got the post-beach trip grains of sand I cleaned out of the carseat from the day my baby first called me Mama, and all the overwhelming love she and I shared in that moment. It keeps the blue maternity tanktop I reached for and clutched tightly to, the moment I realized, "I can't get dressed for the hospital... this baby is coming here and now." It keeps these things so I can feel my history.

The quirky, clever lines and ideas I've thought or dreamt up, and mourned at discovering they were forgotten before I'd had a chance to record them--that sadness doesn't happen anymore. I whisper into my bag constantly, while it safely tucks my musings away. 

Everything I want to have convenient, and all that I treasure and hope never to lose; it's my bag's job to hold safe and ready. It's really quite a clever thing. 


Read more essays from this prompt:
Josiah's submission
Linda's submission
Moody's submission

Want to make one of your own? Next week's prompt is FLASH FICTION.

Write a short story from the starting point, "A Room with a View." 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Flash fiction Friday--Video Games

 This one's in honor of Mother's Day, and all the ridiculously awesome moms in my life.


Finally. 8:30pm.

"Tommy! Shut it off; it's time for bed!"
"Mom! Noooo, please can I just get to the next save point?!"
"And how much longer do you suppose that will take?"
"Like two minutes!"
"So if you're not done in two minutes, you will be happy if I come over and unplug the TV?"
"So are you sure it's going to take two minutes?"
"But Mom you can't! I just got it from Jamie like ten minutes ago!"

She took a deep breath and began again.

"Buddy, did you save at the last save point?"
"Yeah of course!"
"Then it won't be too hard for you to redo the next section."

She would not budge tonight.

He huffed a bit as he put down the controller and clicked off the TV, but she hugged him anyway.

"Come back when your teeth are brushed so I can kiss you," she teased in her usual way. Like always, he tried to kiss her then, while she acted disgusted at his breath.

9:12pm. A bit later than she hoped, but they were in bed. She smiled as she shut their door and said goodnight for the fourth and final time.

The screen blipped back to life and glowed brightly on her face as she strapped on her headset.


Read more stories from this prompt!
Josiah's submission
Moody's submission
Linda's submission

Want to make one of your own? Next week's prompt is NON-FICTION.

Write a short essay from the starting point, "If I had a Mary Poppins Bag." 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Non-fiction Friday--Death

   And Taxis  

The smallish silvery-purple letters aren't very distinct against sage tone of the shampoo and conditioner bottles resting side by side in the alcove of my shower. They have very similar labels, this pair, and are nearly indistinguishable, the one from the other, unless you pull them close. Then you'll find that one the one marked shampoo has a slightly more purple font on that word alone.

I went to the store to replenish my supply and accidentally bought two conditioners, once. That's how alike these look. That even from the unimpeded view of the store, where I had not the excuse of the shower's steam, water and lather in my eyes, and general sense of rush I experience, I still mistook them. 
Since then, I've learned never to trust them when shopping, and also developed a strategy.

After I bring my products home, having ensured that what I bought was correct, I open the tops and peel off the safety seals (because trying to pry that sucker away while you're already slippery and soapy is its own special kind of hell) and when I replace the flip-top lids (not screw-ons), I reverse the lid of the conditioner bottle, so that it opens in the opposite direction of its counterpart. This way, when I'm feeling for my shampoo bottle, my eyes barely opened and peeking through the lathery layers of face wash, I'll be able to discern by feeling the tops which bottle I need. Tricky little demons that they are have been outsmarted by my cunning and no longer defeat me, forcing me to send that $.70 handful down the literal drain.  

I do this with old age in mind.

My children and grandchildren and great grandchildren and in general, any caretakers responsible for my well-being, will never have to help me discern the difference between my shampoo and conditioner. My thoughtfulness in these matters will lend to my continued independence. I train myself to handle these little difficulties with grace.

I am certain they (being the grandchildren and the caretakers) will discuss this amongst themselves. "Batty old lady," they'll muse, "needs a million things a day, but refuses to call for help in the shower, even while muttering about how she prevails when the bottles conspire against her."

Why do I write about this?

So that after my death, my grandchildren and great grandchildren will be able to find this commentary and say, "Well, we were right about one thing. But it looks like she was batty long before she was old." 


Read more essays from this prompt:
Josiah's submission
Linda's submission
Moody's submission

Want to make one of your own? Next week's prompt is FLASH FICTION.

Write a short story from the starting point, "Video Games." 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Flash Fiction Friday--Real Estate

Webs We Weave 

Marco and Nellie Fisher came to me about six months ago, in need of waterfront property to build their first custom web. Distressingly, their first home together - a rented web in the wharf district -was vacated while under renovation, and when they returned on the scheduled date, there had been a terrible mistake--the web was occupied!

These things happen all the time, I'm afraid. Management misplaces paperwork and the Fishers are suddenly out. All the more terrifying when, like Nellie, you're ready to lay your first sac. Theirs was certainly a challenging situation. They were so desperate for a home, they had actually started looking in the cesspool district!

We were in a tough spot, sure, but like many times before, Dream Weavers Realty® did it again! We found the Fishers an ideal creekside spot under budget, and closed in record time! I can't stress enough the importance of working with a knowledgeable agent.

Call me for all your buying, selling, and refinancing needs.
   Junie S. Pryder, Real Estate Agent


Read more stories from this prompt!
Josiah's submission
Moody's submission--coming soon.

Want to make one of your own? Next week's prompt is NON-FICTION.

Write a short essay from the starting point, "Death." 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Non-fiction Friday--50 Word Inspirational Speech

Hey all,
This week I am traveling, so this brilliant prompt suggested by regular participant Josiah Higgins seemed perfect to tackle now. See you all next week with a full-sized fiction offering. 


There are a thousand roads to choose from on the journey to becoming the person you want to be, but take care not to overcomplicate things. Sometimes, it really is just as simple as deciding to be more awesome more of the time. 


Read more essays from this prompt:
Josiah's submission
Linda's submission
Moody's submission

Want to make one of your own? Next week's prompt is FLASH FICTION.

Write a short story from the starting point, "Real Estate." 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Flash Fiction Friday--It's Not Unusual


     Many say they can't sleep in the big city when they first move here from nowheresville. It's all the noise from the cars, and it stays brighter too. Sure, it was weird at first, but now it's normal for me. I've never been much of a sleeper anyway, more of a napper.

     Sometimes I walk home after a gig, or after I'm finished prowling the boulevards and alleys for whatever the restaurants have to offer (the whole-in-the-wall places are always the best), and I'm reminded how I used to be amazed by the differences. Not anymore. One day I realized we had all the same stuff at home, it just looked different, and the world wasn't really that divided. Like, the mall rats I'd known; they're basically just a few years away from being identical to the bar crawlers we've got here. All the suits ignore me, same as they did in the old town. And then there are the mothers. Some of them are always trying to have me over for dinner. Others chase me away with broomsticks and curses. They don't know what kind of trouble I am or not; they just assume. Same as in the small town. Everything's the same here. There's just more of it.

     So I go out and sing for my dinner most every night. I know I could cozy up to the Italian mams and never think twice about it, but I don't want to. I genuinely want it to feel different here. My own mom took care of me at home; why would I want to domesticate myself when I came out here for my freedom in the first place? To satisfy the itch I couldn't scratch before?

     I still keep my license though, with mom's name - Jones - and the address, in case I ever need to go visit home. She'd be sad if I wasn't wearing it.


Want to make one of your own? Next week's prompt is NON-FICTION.

Write a short essay from the starting point, "an inspirational speech in under 50 words." 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Non-fiction Friday--Like a Kid

If I acted like my kids, I would:  

  • Always say "I love you too!" and never "I love you," because I already know you love me before you say it.
  • Fall on the floor and wail in despair any time I got too hungry, which would be at least fourteen times per day.
  • Believe in every magical thing I hear about, with fervor.
  • Get away with so. much. crap. 
  • Make a game for how long I can avoid putting pants on - and try to break my own record every single day. 
  • Pet a lot of bugs and snails. 
  • Watch you carefully and try to be a lot like you.
  • Somehow manage to get my hair into the most matted tangles history has ever seen, usually observed in My Little Pon[ies] and other dolls with fake hair, all within a matter of minutes.
  • Cry like a banshee while you brush my hair.
  • Yell at the top of my lungs how much I love you and will miss you whenever you leave my presence. Even if it's just for a minute. 
  • Ask you 10,000 times if we can please just go to the park again. 
  • Ask you 10,000 times if I can have a piece of gum.
  • Ask you 10,000 times for a popsicle. 
  • Ask you for 10,000 popsicles.
  • Be heartbroken when you go to the bathroom without me. How could you?!
  • Try to push every button of every device I ever encounter, regardless of who is using it at the time. 
  • Climb onto your lap and then arms and then face if I need to get your attention because I love you THAT MUCH AND THIS IS URGENT AND NEEDS YOUR IMMEDIATE ATTENTION. HI.
  • Take at least 40 minutes to brush my teeth and empty my bladder each night. 
  • Refuse to try new foods until someone shoves a piece of it in my mouth, and then scarf the whole thing. It would probably end up my new favorite. 
  • Say at least four hilarious things every day.
  • Scream because my friends are screaming and it seems really fun.

Come to think of it, I probably already do at least half of this list. Husband has been consulted and his estimation is that the truth is closer to 75%, which is kind of expected when you consider these people are influencing me all day long. 


Read more essays from this prompt:
Josiah's submission
Moody's submission
Linda's submission

Want to make one of your own? Next week's prompt is FLASH FICTION.

Write a short story from the starting point, "it's not unusual." 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Flash fiction Friday--Caterpillar

   The Biggest Little Caterpillar     

     At the library one afternoon, Petey asked his mother, in the middle of the story, "Oh! Am I going to turn into a butterfly too, Mama?"
     "No, my dear," she answered. "We're not that kind of caterpillar."

     All the rumbly ride home, Petey thought about the lovely pictures he had seen in the book about the little caterpillar. He felt pretty little too, compared to his dad, especially. The baby caterpillar was bright green and a little bit fuzzy; he liked that. Petey's best friend Johnnie was bright green, too. He liked being yellow. But most of all he liked that the little caterpillar in the library book became something amazing at the end.

     "Mom? Will Johnnie become a butterfly?"
     "What? Oh, no buddy. He's not even a Cat to start with, let alone a caterpillar at all!"
     "If I could have wings, would they help me be better at digging?"
     "Probably not. There's not much dirt to dig in the air, is there?"

     He rode home the rest of the way just thinking.

     At dinner Dad asked about his day.
     "Bad news, Dad. I'm never going to be a butterfly."
     Dad almost spit his drink laughing. "Well son, you're in good company, then. None of us became butterflies, did we? We've been Caterpillars all our lives."
     "Did you ever maybe wish you would turn to a butterfly?" Petey asked.
     "Not really. I'm too heavy for working up high. Besides, I'm claustrophobic. I need open fields! Couldn't handle a cocoon for all that time."
     "I guess so."
     "If you were a butterfly, it'd be hard for you to live with us!" Mom chimed in.
     "I just wanna be awesome," little Petey sighed.

     Bedtime came and as they tucked in their boy, Mom and Dad Cat wondered what they could do to help Petey feel better.
     "Goodnight, Petey." Mom laid a colorful blanket over his usual cover.
     "Night, Petey," Dad switched off the light.
     "Goodnight." He shut his eyes.
     "Oh, Son?" Dad waited at the door.
     "Yeah Dad?"
     "We work really hard to become great every day. It doesn't happen overnight, or quickly, like to a butterfly, but it does happen. You don't have to worry about that part, okay?"
     "Okay Dad. I can do that." Petey sleepily answered as settled into his snuggly blankets.


Read more stories from this prompt!
Moody's submission
Josiah's submission
Linda' submission

Want to make one of your own? Next week's prompt is NON-FICTION.

Write a short essay from the starting point, "acting like a kid." 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Non-Fiction Friday--Favorite Character Flaw


I almost named this blog after my favorite trait. Snark.

My husband bears the brunt of this one conversationally, but I do sometimes wind up spilling out onto unsuspecting bystanders, poor souls. Sometimes I think I should feel terrible, but when something so brilliantly witty occurs to me, it's hard, very very hard, for it to stay in my brain. It used to be quite rare, in fact.

I can't remember what started it now, but I recall a day early in our marriage when Aaron said or did something laughable. Not intentionally, just something that made me chuckle and made him self-conscious. So early in the relationship, a more conservative new wife would have made great efforts to ease the bruising on the ego of her beloved. I chose a different route. As he turned away, frustrated at my increasing enjoyment of humor at his expense, and huffed, "Don't laugh at me!"
I attempted to calm him by explaining, "Babe! I'm not laughing at you! I'm laughing because of you."

It went about as you'd expect.

Sometimes I think this overwhelming reservoir of sarcasm may be what keeps driving me back to writing, in fact. A basic understanding of the social mores which call for feelings left mostly unhurt means that I've developed a filtering base for some of the more harsh or cutting snark, to be directed elsewhere. These comments get to live in a magical land where someone a lot like me gets to have raw and unfiltered conversations with people a lot like the people I know or encounter. I've come up with some fantastic scripts by it. If I'm going to play out imaginary conversations in my head anyway, I may as well be entertained by them.

When I meet a person who can handle, or even keep up with my snark, well... they've likely won my heart forever (you know who you are).


Read more essays from this prompt:
Josiah's submission
Moody's submission

Want to make one of your own? Next week's prompt is FLASH FICTION.

Write a short story from the starting point, "Caterpillar." 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Flash Fiction Friday--What'll You Have?

  First Timers    

     Anything out of the ordinary so rarely happened in Shaw County. The carnival was a big deal.

     Mabel and Jane, "the twins," as everybody called them, were just barely seven when it arrived. I remember, because their Pa forgot to throw them a party that year. Worthless drunk decided he'd handled enough birthdays on his own and took that one off, Lord forgive him, so a few of us threw a little something together with a caramel apple cake and a few noisemakers. It was the best we could do on meager means and short notice.

     We thought their eyes sparkled at that birthday party, but that was nothing, compared. You should have seen them at that carnival. We'd heard in the papers it was coming, so our committee, that's what we called ourselves, the committee--we got together and decided we needed to take the girls in to see the shows. They deserved it more than any, as far as we could see. The budget was low. We had enough for the tickets and a sack lunch, but we explained there'd be no treats inside, and they were good girls; they understood well enough.

     I fully expected those sights and sound to be a wonder to those young things, but I have to admit I myself was fairly taken aback by the impressive display. I still don't understand how they managed, in full daylight sun, to make it seem like the whole place was floating on in a mesmerizing hue just as pink as that cotton candy fluff. I can't blame the twins, really for their raptures with the place. Considering their situation, and all.

     We spent all afternoon, acting like there was no other world to return to outside. Every card show, every acrobat's turn, every wild horse ride, those girls were lost in the magic. It was long past supper, the crowds were mostly already gone home, and we were headed toward the gate, when the balloon vendor in clown makeup called out to us.

     "Good evening, ladies. I'm headed in for the night and these balloons are of no use to me. Do you know of anyone who might care for them?" Mabel's eyes went wide as silver dollars. Jane kept very still, afraid to breathe, probably. I looked around, and answered for them.
     "We seem to be the only ones left, sir."
     "I see." He acted sorely disappointed.
     Mabel piped up, "Perhaps-" she grew shy again and paused. Her sister's boldness rescued them.
     "We may be able to take them, if it could help you, sir," Janey ventured.
     "My, what an interesting solution! Well, I've got reds, pinks, and blues. What'll you have?"

     He pulled two sweets from his pocket and placed them in their hands, having carefully divvied all of his balloons between the two of them, one by one, announcing with deep bows and fancy flourishes as each color was passed to its new owner. They were smitten. He invited them back as his guests the next day, and another member of our committee volunteered to bring them. After all, we all imagined they'd never have this chance again.

     He met them at the gate and took them to the parlor. They had ice creams together, and he began to show them how to hula hoop, and a few other simple tricks. He let them ride the ponies and introduced them to the whole crew of performers, jesters, trainers and managers.

     He gave them first choice seats at the clown show, the very same one where he fell and wound up with a broken ankle. The carnival went on without him and he stayed in our hospital those months, healing up and reading books and telling stories to his daily visitors, who, he noticed, would rather spend time on his knee than two doors down in the room with the patient whose liver was failing. He helped them practice handwriting and work figures each afternoon, and they showed off their growing mastery of juggling, or balance, or any other small amusements he'd explained. The girls and he grew inseparable and got each other through what was probably the worst of their lows. He packed up to leave when the company came back through.

     I'm not surprised the twins ran away with the carnival that next year. After all, they didn't really have a father.


Read more stories from this prompt!
Jonathan's submission--coming soon
Linda's submission
Moody's submission
Josiah's submission
Jeffery's submission

Want to make one of your own? Next week's prompt is NON-FICTION.

Write a short essay from the starting point, "my favorite character flaw." 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Non-Fiction Friday--Being A Writer

 Strolling in the deep  

I am part of a small community of writers who are also parents, and our topic of discussion has been, and probably always will be, how to be successful at getting anything done. So for me, the question of being a writer comes down to, "Am I writing?" If I am, then I feel at peace with myself, regardless of any outcome (like notoriety or monetary return. At least for now). If I am not, am I being a writer? Would I feel embarrassed to answer a question of, "what are you writing right now?" for utter lack of work to even hint upon? I decided that for me, if I am not actively, regularly writing, I am not a writer. Maybe I will feel differently one day, with volumes of my own published works on my shelves, but for now, this rings true.

Concurrently, I have the great joy and responsibility of molding the tiny minds (okay, giant minds, really) of my children. I have the opportunity to stand by them as their triumphs and successes, as well as bruises and mistakes, shape the way they see themselves and the world around them. The things they experience, and what they perceive my place in their life, helping them through each challenge for these formative years, will literally direct the wiring of their brain's structure of thought, all the way into adulthood. I must, I simply must be present for these moments. I must somehow be able to give my full being to my children, and to my craft. My children, who one day will be adults, and communicators, and may in some way be writers themselves (and good lord, if I am not careful to give them my best, what defense will I have to offer them, to my own fragile heart, when I find what might they write about me?!).  

Lots and lots of links and ideas for time management have been made available, with many great tips and tricks for attempting to find your own personal groove for doing this well; feel free to inquire in the comments, or google as you like, and try and try and try until you find the magical balance that lasts forever and then do call me, because what you've found is more valuable than the tears of a thousand unicorns. For now, are some of my thoughts on the matter:

1. Be your own advocate. When people hear you speaking passionately about why you must do this (parent, write, create, all of it), suddenly they will be on board as well. Sometimes they will even join the team and help in practical ways (childcare, accountability, etc.). It really can happen. 

2. Carefully guard against and assassinate all guilt. It is your enemy to productivity in your work and in your relationships with your children/spouse. It does not grow anything. It only debilitates. 

3. Know this to be true: when you are a writer and a parent, both are necessary. Your kids need you, not an unfulfilled, cranky you that can't be creative and productive and feels sucked dry by the ins and outs of daily child care and nurturing. Likewise, your writing needs your life experience as a parent to flesh out some things that otherwise would come across as hollow. Show up for both, as best as you can, every day. 

4. And yes, of course, write regularly. Do not let go of the momentum. Do whatever it takes. Carry a conversation (that simply must go into your book) burning in your head for 12 hours until you have a moment to steal away and jot it down. Take notes in your smart phone (I do. Copiously.) or on your hand or on coffee shop napkins or the backs of bills if they still come to you that way. Make a play and force your children to act it out for you, locking the sequence of events in your memory in a visual way. (I have done this. It works wonders. My children will correct me, because they remember my scene, that I gave them, better than I do.) Just do what you can to keep rolling! Losing something from your thoughts forever is painful.

5. Practically speaking, when you take a shower, plan for five minutes afterward of quickly typing up the stuff you thought of in there. Same for driving in the car. Just start planning that every time you do something somewhat autonomously (showering and driving are mine), the parts of your brain that usually need to focus are quiet, and imagination springs to life. Capture some of the magic from those moments, because it works the muscle and because you never know where you might find it works perfectly in something you need to write tomorrow.

And now I have to take the kiddo back to bed... again, squeeze in a shower, take notes (see? I follow my own advice), and finish the last of the dinner dishes. C'est la vie.


Read more essays from this prompt:
Josiah's submission

Want to make one of your own? Next week's prompt is FLASH FICTION.

Write a short story from the starting point, "What'll you have?" 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Fairy Tale, Part 3

Last week's prompt created a mini-series of stories too long for a flash fiction, but I was really delighted with them, so I'll be sharing them anyway.

The Knight

 The dead animal laid vanquished at his feet. It slowly disappeared into smoke, leaving barely a trace of their skirmish.

 He wasn't sure how exactly he'd finally beat him, but he did, that much was certain. He could already feel the bonds of the arcane contract lifting. The sword he was required to brandish usually accomplished little, but today it seemed blessed, burning into wounds, clearing off heavy scales, and searing right to the heart. The dragon had fought back, more vigorously than usual, but where he normally might have decided to abandon the quest for the day, something surged him forward, and now he was the victor. He could go home triumphant. The bridge was on fire, though. They'd be stuck here for a while, while he built a new one. Assuming she couldn't traverse the canyon in her ladylike dresses, he didn't really know.

 He didn't know. He didn't know her at all. All this time, all this battle, and now came the real moment of terror. He must introduce himself to her, and she would be made to judge him: worthy, or unworthy? The thought of her decision was far more terrifying than the dragon ever had been. Maybe that's why he struggled for so long with the beastly creature. Facing this demon every day... it was the much lesser risk.

 Now, though, he seemed to have stumbled upon the end at last. Once word of his success got out, the two of them would be expected back, to be welcomed as the rulers of newly joined realms. Just as soon as he fixed that bridge, anyway. Maybe this would be good for them. A time to learn, to get to know one another before their return into the kingdom.

 Right, introductions.

 He climbed the steps to the tower and rehearsed some opening lines. He hoped she wasn't choking on the smoke too much. Removing his helm and setting his weapon aside, he knocked quickly, all his prepared, impressive lines forgotten the moment he wanted them.

 "Just a moment!" Her response seemed flustered. A few clamoring noises from the other side betrayed her wishes to appear calm, though as the door slowly swung open, as though he was expected, he found himself charmed. Far lovelier than he remembered, she appeared in the doorway with a curtsey and blushed. He offered his hand, which she took. As some of his wits returned to him, so did his manners; he kneeled and kissed her hand with a simple, 

 "Dear knight, the champion of a great challenge, you are a very welcome sight. I honor your bravery and steadfast pursuit of my freedom these many days." Her obviously prepared speech was endearing, and he respected her for it. In her isolation, she hadn't relinquished devotion to her duty in the slightest. "Do please come in." She motioned to a settee within her small quarters and produced a kit while he took a seat. "Where are you injured?" 
 "I'm not." 
 "No? Surely there must be some damage?" She smiled as she grasped his hand in hers and began looking him over, carefully studying his arms, then shoulders and neck.
 A sparkling glint of gold in his gray eyes twinkled at her approach, intimate and caring already. Affection swelled with him. "Maybe this is going to work well, after all," he thought, uncertain of how he'd been bewitched so quickly. The true value of his reward he understood at last, and now he could finally offer himself. What had he ever been afraid of? As she reached up to inspect his head and touch his face, his heart brimmed with hope, and his eyes glowed brighter.
 Her stare remained focused on him as she stepped sharply back, suddenly acutely aware of how forward it felt.
"Don't be embarrassed!" He liked feeling this nearness, and hoped not to lose it. When she did not answer but simply blushed in response, he pressed a bit further. "Penny for your thoughts? I rather like your little musings."

 Her sheepishly pleased expression slowly, steadily melted into horrified shock. "You?!"

 How could she know? Already! He had hoped to ease into the subject more delicately.
 "It was always you?" His extended silence answered her perfectly. "Oh, God in Heaven. How?"
 "I've been fighting with that thing for ages. It... it was my father's curse."
 "I don't understand."
 "It's called the Extuenti. Your father knew of it by legend, and agreed to our union if and only if I could destroy it. My father could not, so it passed to me. It grants only two hours per day of experience in our true nature, at which point we battle against it with all our might. The rest of the time is spent trapped in a mind, body, and attitude not our own." 
"But you remember all our conversations? These years we've spent, essentially together all along?" Floods of memories - criticisms and cutting remarks, caring, even tender moments, always waiting for him--recalling it all at once now made her head swim.
 "Yes, in a manner of speaking. Being possessed by the dragon form means that things which seem terrible to me, when considered through my human eyes, seemed normal then... living in a dragon's mind." He struggled to find some way to assuage her fears, surprised by how much he hated how this must wound her. "It wasn't me. I promise it's gone now."
 "How can you be sure? How can I know with certainty it will never come back? How can I know what was you, and what was that?" She collapsed on her straw bed, defeated. "This is not the happily-ever-after I waited for."
 Her despondency stung, but it was too late now; he had seen her truly for the first time, and could not give her up. "Do you still want a happily-ever-after?"
 "Of course I do," she answered scornfully, dropping her gaze from him for the first time.
 "I will give it to you. One day at a time. I beat him today, so now I know I can do it, and now I know why I must. I will beat him every day, if it comes to that."
 "Every day," she repeated in a whisper, and remembered why she had ever hoped to love him in the first place. "You came back every day." She hesitated a moment, then returned to her place beside him and began to wrap a bandage around a slight scrape on his arm, his thankful eyes warmly glowing down at her.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Fairy Tale, Part 2

Last week's prompt created a mini-series of stories too long for a flash fiction, but I was really delighted with them, so I'll be sharing them anyway.

The Princess

She shut the windows quickly, coughing a bit. "Well, today is likely a bust. Maddening dragon! I'll have soot in my hair and smudges all over my eyes. That is no state to be in for the possibility of first introductions with your One True Love, if indeed today is the day." A little unchecked sigh escape her lips. "If, indeed."

She covered her mouth with a handkerchief and breathed deeply through the cloth, pretending it could have been something of his. Perhaps a token he'd given her in declaration of his faithfulness throughout this trial they were being made to endure. In reality they hadn't even met yet. She knew rather little about him, just a few simple facts. First, that he accepted this assignment to save his father's kingdom from utter ruin, of exactly what kind she knew not. The riches of the beast and her dowry, along with the glory of a successful conquest, would be his, which she supposed would accomplish reparation fot most anything he could have need to restore. This gallant attempt to repair an inheritance squandered (before it had even reached its intended recipient), spoke rather well of him to her... surprisingly, even after all this time. He would right the wrongs of the sovereign's past, and then secure his, and her own (she supposed with a slight blush), succession. The second fact she could claim knowlegde of was that her own father had only agreed to the marriage if the brave knight could prove his worth. The test was devised, the magicians summoned, the scenario created. After a fortnight's preparation, she'd awoken in a tower surrounded by nothing but rubble for miles, her intimidating but reserved sentry guarding the only access point-- a small bridge over a deep gorge.
Thirdly, she knew everything the dragon had told her; her knight seemed ill equipped to take on a wyrm of this stature, though he did, every day, come back and try again. This truth, the one she'd been noting for so many years, was the soft breeze blowing on the embers of hope in her heart, vouching for what kind of man her rescuer must be. She just hadn't expected it to take this long. 
Still, this life, waiting for his victory, had not been entirely insufferable. It seemed rather unusual, really. There had never been a tale like hers. She couldn't think of a single other princess, maiden, man or child who had been treated so mercifully, nay, even cared for! By a dragon warden, of all things. 
He heated her water for washing, bathing, and cooking every day. He deposited fresh garden vegetables for her use and regularly answered her questions, when he wasn't in a bad humor. At times their exchanges had seemed downright friendly. In fact, they spoke every day, and knew each other's moods and temperaments well by now. He seemed to tolerate her at best, and mock her when moody, but that was his worst. 
And why had he never simply killed the knight he found to be such a poor challenger? Couldn't he free himself of the responsibility of her forever - and how obviously joyful he would be for it! Or... was he somehow tied to the curse beyond her knowledge? Maybe that's what he meant when he said he was captive too?
But she didn't spend much time dwelling on it. She didn't like where the train of thought usually took her.
A shadow accompanied a sudden gust of wind blowing through her shutters and under her doorway, interrupting her thoughts and stirring a bit of the still-clinging smoke. "Ah, the Dragon must be flying today. Maybe he got bored of the simple encounters and decided to exercise himself. That's probably for the best. He'll get chubby in his old age if he doesn't take care." The thought amused her.
She checked her reflection in the small mirror to see how much smoky residue was left to clean. They would be done for today very soon - in fact she thought she could hear her tower's guardian settling back onto his pile of coins now - and she'd repair her coiffer, sweep and mop the ash away, and rewash the linens. Maybe she'd make turnip soup for dinner tonight. Maybe she'd ask the dragon about his past tomorrow.
A loud, startling knock sounded at her tower door. Four solid raps, and a voice she'd never heard before. 
"It's over. May I come in?"
--- Part 3

Monday, March 4, 2013

Fairy Tale, Part 1

Last week's prompt created a mini-series of stories too long for a flash fiction, but I was really delighted with them, so I'll be sharing them anyway.

The Dragon

      "There's a whole other world in your own room, sometimes. Do you know how many spiders are crawling on my ceiling right now? I could have kept looking down here at my sewing... I might never have known."
      "You're musing to yourself again, aren't you? It's not your best quality. You might want to work on curbing that little personality flaw, in case he ever does kill me and get to you; he'd probably find it annoying," the dragon barely opened his glowing amber eyes as he lazily criticized her.
"I'm ignoring you today. He'll be here soon, anyway." Her singsongy voice was her defense.
"Yes, indeed. Are you going to shutter up your windows again, or try and watch this time?"
"You know perfectly well what the curse entails. I can't witness a thing, or his claim to my heart will be null and void. I wouldn't dare risk it."
The dragon lay still, knowing well what would come next.
"Tell me again, what he's like, won't you?"
"He's a damn fool," the dragon began, like always. "He knows I'm a fire dragon, but attacks with the very same flame-charmed sword every time. He keeps his hair short, not because of the fashions, but because of how many times it's been burned off or singed in our daily skirmishes. His armor is either gold plate, or polished so brightly that it reflects the color of my hoarded treasures beneath me. Which I can see because I barely have to move. His attacks are so poor I'm practically bored of him. It's really dull. I wish he'd finally realize what a waste he is and quit coming back every day."
"But he does come back every day," she whispered to herself.
"Ah, there he is now. Better shutter up, Princess," he half-snorted as he turned toward the bridge.
"I wish you bad luck and failure, dear Beast," she curtsied and added, "Whatever happens today, thank you for-"
"Treating me civilized in captivity," he finished her sentiment for her, somewhat tiredly. 
"My rituals keep me sane," she defended herself, "nothing I'd expect you to understand. You've never been a prisoner."
"Oh, haven't I?" He turned to face her full-on then, heat emanating from the usually soft glow in his eyes, turning more orange than amber now. She backed away, startled for the first time since she first was brought here, more than 2000 days ago.
"Well, I... haven't you?" she dared to ask. He forced a deep, calming breath, light smoke from his nostrils filling up her small quarters.
"We haven't known each other long enough for this conversation," he turned his back to her again.
"Maybe tomorrow, then," she meekly offered as she closed tight her domicile, risking being choked up on the smoke for the duration of the battle. 

It pricked his dragon heart. 
He didn't let the knight win intentionally that day. He really wasn't trying. But as he lay bleeding onto the disheveled pile of jewels, he understood finally, why he'd been told all his life that dragons never expose their hearts.


Friday, March 1, 2013

Flash Fiction Friday--Fairy Tale with a Twist

  Once upon A Time     

     "Holy hell," she slumped down into a sudden heap of her normally poised self. "It's been a long week. What are you guys having?"
     "We waited 'til you got here to call for a cocktail menu," Lisette answered, raising her hand toward the cutest busboy she could make eye contact with. It wasn't entirely a lie, but her lack of any bag or purse told the full story. She was apparently going all-out tonight.
     "You're wearing the cerise top and four inch heels? You slut," she teased. Lisette only grinned in response.
     "Some of us are getting more and more desperate with each dateless weekend that passes," Marena chimed in from her corner seat, already brooding over the expected fruitlessness of her man-search that would become the self-fulfilling prophecy of not only her night, but of many of her years to come.
     "Well, I think I'm going to give it up for tonight."
     "You? But you're our pack leader. You're practically an inspiration." Lisette seemed to be waiting for the punchline to a joke.
     "I told you, I'm tired! Besides, I think sometimes we're trying too hard. Will it kill me to take a weekend off from the hunt? Will I utterly miss my chance at meeting my husband if I just sit here for a drink and then go home early for one night?"
     "Yes," her friends answered in unison.
     "Thanks, bitches. Go have fun. I'll call you tomorrow for details." Lisette and Marena shuffled off in search of their companions and free drinks for the night.

    The bar was still loud, but felt like a zen garden suddenly, now that she was free from the usual peanut gallery. She wondered how she had remained friends with these well-meaning but insufferably senseless women for this long; the kind of girls who felt it was perfectly alright to refer to themselves as a 'little red wolf pack, hunting down their prey.'
   "You're better than this, G," she laughed to herself. "They can't even keep the details of a bedtime story straight. Are you so lonely that these girls and the endless chase are the only thing you use your free time for anymore? You used to be more interesting. You liked archery and learned to build things just to furnish your first apartment. You spent an afternoon memorizing the Malaysian alphabet on a whim. You read classics because they were older than everyone you've ever known combined. And this is all you do now? You should really rescue yourself from this mess."
   She picked up the cocktail menu and looked over the offerings. Nothing terribly creative, quite a few cheesy or gimmicky names, like Red Hot Vodka Sour, or Cupid's Arrow, or- ...oh, shit.
    "It's Valentine's weekend."
     She started to gather up her things, intending to duck out as quickly as possible. Too late.  
    "Can I buy you a drink?"
     She was ready with her excuse and apology, but he had kind eyes and the sort of adorable sweetness in his broad smile. Plus he was tall, a requirement of hers. Almost against her better judgement, she sat back down and passed him the menu.
     "Anything look good?"
     He handed it back to her, his finger underlining his recommendation, and a sheepish grin on his face, hoping she'd find the joke charming rather than corny.
     "Sure, I'll try the-" she leaned closer to make sure she was reading correctly, "Fairy Tale, with a Twist."


Want to make one of your own? Next week's prompt is NON-FICTION.

Write a short essay from the starting point, "being a writer." 

more reading