It’s A Rabbit Hole of Wonderland Writing Prompts

Rabbit Hole

Now that is a mouthful of a title, but after someone in my writing group said she got writing prompts off of Pinterest, and another in the group telling me the same, I decided to check it out.

Down the rabbit hole was the mental hashtag that came from looking at Pinterest.


Oh my gosh! I just typed in ‘writing prompts’ into the search and hours later I think I had collected several. Way more than I would would ever need. But not enough.  And that was just with a simple search. (by hours later, I mean, I collected them over several hours, not necessarily sitting there for hours. That would have been silly…… plausible, but silly)

So clearly I never knew of this world of really, really cool prompts. I mean, I am forever writing things regularly and I have way too many things started, so why I would ever need a prompt, is beside me.  That being said, I NEED these prompts because somebody needs to write about them. Right? I mean, they are too cool to give up. Someone has to do the dirty work of writing a story on these. And if that dirty work falls to me, well then a writer’s just got to do what a writer’s got to do…..

Currently I have various things floating around in my head, and I have been writing at all kinds of things that I haven’t shared here, probably won’t share here, and even some things I won’t share with anyone.  But sometimes it’s fun to break out a mode of writing and do something totally different, and that’s where these prompts are fun. So you only write a short story to nothing. So it is something you dabble in just for fun. Such is life. Why do we color in coloring books? It doesn’t get us anywhere. It doesn’t do anything but relax us. For me, silly nothing stories relax me. Heck, running a pen full of in over the pristine page of a new piece of paper is relaxing. I want to mark it up!

The woman in the writing group who said she used Pinterest, well this last week she wrote something totally amazing, using one prompt from there, and a couple prompts I bring to the group every week. I have my ‘grab bag’ of prompts I’ve made. Words, feelings, colors, dates, numbers.  Things that could get the ideas flowing. Not so much an actual  ‘A boy walks into a bookstore, sees a girl he likes, sidles up to her and says, ‘Quick, they’re coming to get us. We gotta run.” Now how would you finish this idea?’ That is a Pinterest prompt. (one I made up, so feel free to use it anyone. I don’t care because I personally think this is a crappy idea, but hey, whatever floats your boat.) No my prompts are much more ordinary. I’ve gotten some amazing stuff from them, and so have several of the other writers from the group, but on the whole, rather boring compared to what I have just seen.

Point being, after that longish ramble there, but the woman, gosh let’s call her Sandra Dee, well I’m not sure her story is ever part of her books or anything, so I’d call it relaxing writing. Candy writing. Fluff.  But so much fun.  Some of my fluff writing has gone on to actually be something.

So prompts. I find them terribly helpful and fun and a way to break out of your mind. The backlog of stuff crowding you up and making it so you might not be able to write. People talk about writer’s block all the time.  It’s writer’s block from what you are currently writing, not necessarily writer’s block. I have writer’s block all the time, but it’s only on something I ‘Need’ to be writing. Not so much as writing goes. I can plop down anywhere and start writing just about anything. So Prompts are kind of that slap in the face inspiration, oh, well let’s write about this. And sometimes they can take you places you would never imagine.

Three months ago I pulled ‘pink flamingo’, ‘traveling trailer’, and the word Crowder from an author of a book.  I now have 8 short stories about a fictional town in Texas called Crowder.  It has serious potential to become a book of stories from this town. All humorous in some way or another.  All because I pulled three word prompts. I mean, think what you could get if you used an actual plot prompt?  Who knows. You might write the next Hunger Games or something.

So curious. How do you feel about prompts? Do you use them or mock them? What are some great places you get prompts from?  I just found this great WordPress blog for them; Promptuarium.  Check it out. A lot of them have been reposted on Pinterest, but hey, you might get some great ideas.
Enjoy the prompts I’m posting here. If you get something great and want to share on your blog, link back to me so I can read it.  And also, check out the prompts on my Pinterest board. Maybe they will inspire you to create great things.

Kate

Playing With Words, Or What I Found In An Anne Lindbergh Book

So I have become a frequent member of the local Saturday Writing Circle at my local library. I’ve mentioned it in passing with a short piece of Flash fiction I wrote recently.  One of our writing prompts comes from the mix mash of pieces of paper with either a word or a number on it. If you choose the number, you walk around the room, which happens to have all the books the Friends of the Library sell, pull off a book, turn to the page number you chose, and use a word from that to write from. I almost always choose this method because it’s broad and there are a bunch of words you can find in one page.

This last week I chose a book by Anne Morrow Lindbergh and who would have thought that a wealth of words could come from page 220 (the date of the day I was writing) of the book, “North to the Orient?” This book has a story behind it as well. I chose the book partly because a few years ago my family and I were going through our books, discarding what we were not going to read. Several of the books were Anne Lindbergh books my grandmother had gotten from her mentor years ago.  I kept a few and got rid of several. Well this dark blue book, sitting on the non fiction shelf, called to me. Just because I thought it would be familiar in that I knew the author. Well, after reading the page, I decided I HAD to take it home and read it. When I got home, I told Mrs. B about it, and she asked dryly if it was one of the books we had gotten rid of. Well, I flipped to the front cover and there was the nameplate with the name of my grandmother’s mentor.  Oh how things circle around. Ironic that I am now reading a book I discarded three years ago.

But now onto page 220.  While I didn’t use all of these, what caught my eye were these words or phrases:

a small island of roofs, sea of flood, the two words were separated, the world of nightmare, the world of reality, the flash of waking, magic lamp, hair-bridge, the pull of a trigger…….

A sentence: ….magic rests on a knife-edge—a lam, a tinderbox, and “open sesame.”

Aren’t those wonderful? I continued on with my story of Reality of Dreams, which relates to The Magic Orb I wrote several years ago. C.B. Wentworth wanted me to finish that piece of flash fiction and I have sudden inspiration to finish the story. I now have a way to finish the story. I think. This is what I have been working on at my weekly writing group.

So while I won’t share all of the story yet, I am going to post bits and pieces at time. But do you play with words? Do you hunt for words in books? I have found it a really good way to find inspiration. The Reality of Dreams was inspired by words in Cannery Row, and a Tea Shop Mystery book by Laura Childs.

So, how do you get your word prompts? I’d love to know.

Kate

Let’s Have A Cup Of Coffee And Catch Up – Writing 101 Day 11

steaming cupTrying to catch up my readers seems a bit redundant. I feel like I’m forever updating on current projects, or lack of projects, but let’s see what I come up with just an overview. Or if we were sitting down to coffee, I’d tell you all this. I’m not really up for a conversation, poetry, or interesting piece. Mind fog.

First off, I’m second week into Writing 101 and it’s exhausting in it’s own way. I love it, but I wonder if it’s really helping me. Does this make my writing better? Well, maybe because it has required me to have focus. Sort of. And not really come up with my own ideas. I mean, sure, the basis is mine, but there is a general theme of writing well. And it has helped me take time to practice using social media to promote my posts. I don’t know why I didn’t know how to do that before in WordPress, but I have some of it down better. So, there is some structure. I think.

I’m week two into the Poem a Day Chapbook Challenge, and feeling further and further behind. I have written seven and a half sonnets… or three half sonnets as well. It’s kind of odd. If I could finish those three I’d be further along. I still struggle with the iambic aspect. I get pentameter. That is seriously no problem. But unstressed/stressed still makes me groan a bit. I wouldn’t be surprised if I start thinking in iambic after a while of this though.  But I am having to play catch up constantly. I’m not following the specific rules of the PAD challenge, considering I can’t seem to write a sonnet in 24 hours and move on to the next one. So it’s day 17 and I have less than half completed. Sigh.

My month has kept me busy with life changes, from it suddenly being our family business’s down time, sort of, to health problems, and family health problems and going here and there for such things. I’m so exhausted it’s not even funny. But I have finally started to recoup a bit on my anemia. I spent the summer being anemic and I’m finally into a safer zone but still not out of the water yet. The low iron made it impossible to keep running, which I wanted to do for health reason. But when your doctor says ‘stop running’, you do what he tells you. Maybe next year, because I cannot run in the winter in the mountains. It’s too cold.

I was thinking and semi talking with Caterpickles the other day about a story I sent the 8 Year Old when she was more like the 5 Year Old. Gads time flies. I wrote a picture book and turns out the 8YO still loves the story, and obviously can read it herself these days. I need to seriously sit down and consider a query letter or more to some agents and see if one might accept it. I had hoped to have the book published before Jules’s kids were out of grade school and the 8YO was still only 6. Clearly I am far behind that plan. So onwards and hopefully agent wards…

Does anyone else find that sometimes they get really annoyed with other people that are trying to publish and are telling about all their challenges?  There is one blogger I follow who is working to publish juvenile fiction and it annoys the heck out of me about his methods of submitting and working through Twitter and various other social media aspects. Does anyone else ever feel annoyed with other publishing authors? Or is it just me.

I looked into submitting a short story to Readers Digest after my grandmother read the story and said I should. Unfortunately, because of the high volume of stories RD gets, it’s like next to nearly impossible. So, I’m putting them on the back burner for now, but the short story needs submitting somewhere. I had tried Glimmer Train, Tin Roof, and The Meadows literary magazines, and all rejected my story after an 8 month wait. It’s okay though. I had three magazines read my story.

So, okay, I guess I have something to talk about, right?

For some, this is not terribly interesting, but others might find it helpful. Is there anything you, dearie would like to add?

Kate

Fog Wildfires – Short Fiction

This last month my local valley libraries had their annual writing contest.  I decided to enter their theme of Wildfire Summers and ended up placing third.  Down from second two years ago, but I sort of half-assed it, writing it two days before the deadline.  But still, I placed…. amongst 5 people. Ah, small town.  I have to laugh.

But I thought I would share. I don’t think it’s good enough to ever submit to any literary magazines, but who knows. Once I publish it here, I wouldn’t dream of submitting anyhow.

Enjoy

Fog Wildfire

She called the summer wildfires ‘Fog Wildfires’ after the way the fog of smoke would sink down the mountains just like the fog rolling into San Francisco Bay. However, unlike its counterpart, this kind of fog was hot, dry and smelly. The golden disk of the sun was no more than an amber colored stone, and it gave the land an eerie sepia tone like she had stepped into a western film. Or an aged photograph. Still air with not even a hint of movement made the smoke and heat push down on her. It made her feel anxious and restless.

Days like this, where the smoke was a thick as fog you could cut it and call it marshmallow, except for the nasty, noxious smell of it, which marshmallows were not, was when she wished for the foggy, coastal-like mornings of early January. She loved the cool, winter fog. The kind of fog that was so wet you could see each individual droplet hanging in the air; a fine curtain of silk. The kind of fog that dripped off the eaves and made the earth and trees smell like she was in some exotic damp forest. The kind of fog you find on the coast where you can breathe as deeply as you want and it never hurts because the mist was like a balm to your lungs. Today she wished it was fog instead of smoke.

She had hung her laundry under the porch eaves as ash sifted down like shavings. Ashy pine needles, fragile as talc, floated to the ground in shades of grey and white. Easily crushed under foot. Sifting down like snow, except a whole lot less pretty in her mind. The air was dirty. When the wildfires were at their worst, like today, the sky was obscured by thick, dirty, grey smoke. But of course smoke was dirty. The day so hot you could melt, but then not hot enough as the smoke, thick grey would hide the sun enough to cool it down. And amber sun was not warm.

Stagnant air. Smelly air. Smoke filled air. The air perpetually permeated with the acrid, sharp tang of burnt trees; thousands upon thousands of wilderness burned to a crisp of blackened giant’s toothpicks. Nothing left.

She missed the days that would clear up to blue sky, but only when the inversion lifted. That was always nice because she could breathe again, filling her lungs with fresh mountain air, warm from the summer sun and smelling of fields of grass and wheat. The resin of pines and firs a spicy sweet scent that she could never get enough of smelling. But the lifted inversion meant that the fires would worsen, the blazes having more wind to ignite the downed debris. Then a plume would form, one that you could see for miles, and by late afternoon, the smoke would settle in again, thickening the air, and obscuring all of the scenery.

The laundry had taken forever to hang as she tried to find places around the porch to clip clothespins and hangers. Doubling up clothes on the line she had strung around the eaves. The sheets hung, folded twice to make room for everything. Socks hung double by one clothespin. One couldn’t walk around the porch without something wet hitting them in the face. However, because it was so still, the dampness hung like its own cloud under the roof. Step out from under and she was assailed by the heat and dry smokiness. Step back under and it was a step into the south; damp, muggy.

She couldn’t win. She wanted that misty day where she could sit in her favorite window, the fire warm and dry in the stove as she sat sipping a cup of tea. She didn’t want to be figuring out the best spot to dry her favorite shirts, knowing that they would still smell like smoke for days once they were dry. She was tired of the heat, the smoke, and the incessant smell of it permeating every nook and cranny of her life. Tired of having to sleep with her windows closed because the smoke was so thick she couldn’t see her neighbors.

Every year it was the same thing. Every year there was a wildfire that set up a blaze that lasted months. Every summer she dreaded that first hint of chlorine in the air; her first indication of a fire started in the mountains. Every year she had to make due with hazy days and always smelling like smoke.

She sighed as she took down the burnt smelling sheets. Maybe it was time to invest in a new place to live. Maybe she needed to move to the actual coast. Fires were rare there. Maybe she could find herself a little cottage near the water and breathe mist all day.

She smiled to herself, almost a little giddy at the thought of never having to deal with the wildfires again. It made her bounce around and hum to herself as she took down the laundry. Yes, that’s what she would do. She would live on the sea and have foggy mornings every day. She would never smell smoke again.

Just as she was about to call her cousin who was a realtor she stopped and frowned. If she moved to the coast she would never have the summer heat that she loved. She wouldn’t have the snowy winters and the autumns that were like a storybook waiting to explode in perfection.

Darn it! She was going to have to deal with the smoky summers if she wanted all her other favorite things. She sighed again. Well, at least she could dream of her misty mornings that came in January, and remember them when the smoke was too thick.

Like right now. It was time for another night of closed windows, a stuffy house, and her hair smelling like the burning pine needles. The fires would finally go away, the skies would be blue, and the world would be clean and fresh again, like the mountains should smell. She just had to get through the next few weeks in this foggy kind of smoke.

Such was the life of living where wildfires were a common enough thing every year.

Kate

Accomplishments

Despite the month of August being a smoke filled month (say hello to California wildfires and forest mismanagement) and the constant fill of farming and watering and working more than I care to think about, I was able to accomplish some pretty nice things this month and I thought I would share them.  So drum-roll…… Well, you can add that in if you want. I’m doing it in my head….

 

  1. I started running again.  Okay, so that might not sound like a lot, but I had to give it up for all of July because it was so hot I could not stand being out in the dark running. I just had to put it on hold until the evenings were cooler and not so intense. I do not do well in the 90’s.
  2. I ran three miles. Whoo Hoo! This is huge! I rarely can run more than a mile, mile and a half at at time.  Last week I ran three miles, and two of those miles I ran in straight mile stretches. I hope that makes sense.  What I mean is, most of the time I can only run a quarter to a half mile before I have to walk a while before completing the mile. Miles 2 and 3 were an entire mile before stopping.  Again, this is huge. Granted, I hurt like crazy and my knees weren’t too happy, or my shoulders, but it felt so amazing. The endorphins high I got was incredible.  And last night I did 2 1/2 miles pretty easy.
  3. I can fit into my size two Ann Taylor sheath dress.  An LBD in some ways. Now, I’m not a size 2, but Ann Taylor dresses must have been invented with smaller sizes to give women a boost. Because I can say I wear a size two. Which is funny since my previous post was about not being a size two…..
  4. I wrote a short story that is semi flash fiction, but my parents love it! It was all inspired by Boris and his trip to Atlanta and I teased him about taking his xs-214 double barreled ray gun. The fact that this story has potential is just exciting. I’m going to need a couple beta readers, so if anyone is interested, drop me a comment with a valid email.  I only need a couple readers since it’s so short. Just over 600 words, but it’s periodical/literary magazine worthy, I think.
  5. I finally solved the yeast infection in my dachshund’s ear after 11 years! Who knew that just plain povidone iodine swabbed daily could clear it up? I didn’t. My vet never said to do this. I gotta tell the vet. This has been something that has driven me nuts for years. My dog hasn’t enjoyed it too much either.

 

Okay, so maybe those are small accomplishments, but small doesn’t mean inferior or not important. It’s the little things in life that count, right? I have to take little things and enjoy or savor them. The running is huge. The short story is huge. So, I’ll go with it.

Anyone else have some accomplishments that made them want to dance around?

Signing off

Kate

Utter Crap

the persephone bookshop

the persephone bookshop (Photo credit: this lyre lark)

I probably should be writing this over on Escaping the Inkwell, but I’m going to be utterly lazy since this post is about utter crap. Seems befitting. Though I feel I should say ‘utter rubbish’ instead as it’s so much more polite and I’ve been reading British things. (How did I not know that Persephone Biannually was so interesting? I have about 8 different ones!)

Moving on.  So last week I ‘finished’ my short story about jars of hearts, lipstick, et cetera. See the post here.  I was so wired to finish it and for those first few hours, even though I knew that it was going to need serious editing,  I was quite thrilled with it.

Then the reality set in. Or maybe it’s writer’s reality, or whatever you want to call it.  Anyways, there I was the next morning going, “this thing is terrible! it’s crap. There is no way I could ever hope to submit this to a literary magazine (because yes, I am considering it). I should just toss the whole thing in the garbage and start over.”

Never mind that I wrote the whole thing out longhand with purple ink (new fountain pen and ink. If I have the inclination I shall write a review on the Lamy Vista which has become a favorite pen!) Never mind that I have told my sister she can read it when I’m done.  Never mind that I was quite hopeful of it.

Now is it really that horrible?  Honestly, I don’t know because I’m looking at it through my eyes. No doubt it needs a lot of work.  Heck, in just the first two paragraphs I have already added a bunch of things I left out. Meaning I started typing it up to have a more readable copy and started editing in the process.  I’m sure it will be fine. (Repeat again and again, self) I’m sure my friend will enjoy it if I ever get it typed up and edited before having her take a looksie.  But my own self doubt.

I just read something in my Bianually about the author Dorothy Whipple how she thought that her novel Greenbanks was never going to amount to anything then low and behold it became a best seller and is now being sold by Persephone Books.  I’m not saying I’m a Dorothy Whipple (whom I must confess that I’ve never read any of her books) but self doubt is high.

I am still going to work on the darn thing. It really needs a title.  I want a bit of horror in the story (because it is a bit like horror in some ways) Not the creepy kind, but just a life type horror.  Once I’m willing to share you will see.

But for now I feel that it is utter crap!  Why am I a writer?

Signing off

~Kate

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Lipstick, the Devil, and Jars of Hearts

I will never understand my brain, but sometimes something that I hear or see help combine thoughts into one congealed story. This is one of those times.

For ages I’ve been playing around with a story plot that uses Christina Perri‘s ‘Jar of

Jar of Hearts

Jar of Hearts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hearts‘ as a basis.  I love the song and the tragedy behind it, but I just could not come up with something until just this last week when I was listening to Jason Derulo‘s “Talk Dirty” (Clean version! I will post my rant on the explicit version later), and the one line about ‘lipstick stamps in my passport, think I need a new one,” just fit perfect with “Jar of Hearts”.

Then I ran across this post on Tumblr that made me laugh and go, oooh, I could use that too.

From alchemistc

why does everyone always associate satan with heavy metal

for all we know satan could like smooth jazz

Why does everyone associate satan to look like some horned goat-typed devil when in reality he’s probably a handsome gentleman in a full body suit who tips his hat at men and women.

 

https://i0.wp.com/media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/2b/32/67/2b32679f8be1e8791d99e8172a964fe5.jpgSo we have lipstick stamps, a devil in a three piece suit who is a gentleman, and jars of hearts.  Come on, you can just imagine the fun I’m having with this, can’t you? Well I am. I have a short story piece I’m working on and when I finish it, I will post hit here for you to all stare in wonder at my brilliant feat.  Or maybe just because I like sharing things I write. 🙂

 

 

Writing On

~Kate

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Three Wishes – Daily Prompt: Lucky Star

tumblr_m5y9k7oDPX1r3a6jho1_500“If you had three wishes, what would they be for?” he asked as he stroked his fingers up her bare arm.  They were lying out beneath the stars, waiting for the meteor shower she had promised him. Lying on the blankets in the bed of his truck, snuggled together after amusing themselves with taste, touch and passion of skin.  Keeping the chill off their bodies by becoming one.  Bodies that were now slightly chilled from sweat and mountain air.

He pulled the blanket up over her back and pulled her closer.  “Three wishes,” he breathed in her ear, “what would they be?”

She shivered as his breath washed over her and tightened her hand around his waist.

“Mmm.  Well, my first one would be for you to take me again,” she giggled.

“Be serious,” he admonished and tapped her arm in a mock slap.

“I am being serious,” she said provocatively.  “I could use you again.”

“Okay, I’ll file that away for later. But really, what would you wish for?” He said seriously.

She thought for a bit, staring up at the velvety midnight blue sky.  At the diamonds twinkling and she thought hard.

“I’d like to never have to clean the house again,” she finally said.

“We could hire a maid.”

She laughed.  “Don’t be silly. I really don’t mind it that much, but it would be a nice thing.”

“Okay, number two.”

“I’d like to go to Paris.”

“Is that it?” He asked in surprise. He thought she might wish for something outlandish, but Paris was reasonable. Something he could save up and give her in the future, possibly the near future if he was willing to forgo getting a new truck.

“Okay, and the last?” he urged.

“That was the last one.  Sex, maid, and Paris.  Yeah, that’ll do.” She sucked in a breath as he skated his fingers up her ribs that then sent her into peals of laughter when he tickled.

“Confound it woman, you are incorrigible.”

“Stop. Stop!” She laughed and punched him in the arm. He stopped and pulled her close again and she let out a sigh.  “Okay, your turn. What would you want if you had three wishes.”

“Well, while sex might be nice, since I know I can get that, I think I’ll try for something a little more crazy.”  It was his turn to laugh when she smacked him.

“So, first off, not having to work another day in my life, but having plenty of money to make you happy.”

“You do make me happy. Every day,” she murmured.

“I know, but it would be nice if I didn’t have to spend all the time working and could just be with you. Two, I’d like to go to one of the Superbowls.” She rolled her eyes at this, but he ignored her.

“And three?” she prompted. He was much faster at this than her answers, spitting them out like he had thought about them a lot.

“Three.  Three is more tricky.  I’d wish I could own this lake and the mountains surrounding it. It’s been our spot forever, but I’d like to build a cabin or house here so that we could sit out and make love under the stars whenever we wanted without having to drive an hour to get here.”

Via http://ladylandscape.tumblr.com/ Wish all you can ! by Joe Dsilva on Flickr.

She was silent, slightly surprised.  She hadn’t known he loved this place as much as he did, considering it was she who had first brought him to this spot years ago right after they’d met.  She’d never told him why this place was so special, nor that technically the land was hers, or would be eventually.  It hadn’t really mattered because they came here as often as they could in the summer.

“What would you say if I told you that at some point I could grant you the last wish?” she asked, leveling herself up to look down at his face, shadowed in the starlight.

“I’d say you were crazy and how much money did you plan to throw at Uncle Sam?”

“The government doesn’t own this land. My uncle owns it.”

“You don’t say? No wonder we always come here. Why didn’t you tell me it was in the family?”

“Never saw the need to since we came here all the time.  But not only is it in the family, but since I am the only relative of Uncle James, other than Dad, he uh, has me as the heir.  When he dies, I get this land.”

He stared up at her. Emotions flashed across his face; hope, longing, adoration. A mixture of thoughts and dreams bundled up in the surprise.  Clearly she was more able to give him something that meant a lot to the both of them.

“Well, darling,” he said huskily, then flipped her onto her back. “While I might not be able to grant you every wish of yours, and you have certainly thrown a shock to me with your little wish granting, the least I can do is give you your number one wish.”

He kissed her. Then again. Then some more, and as they began to move, the heavens rained down stars. Stars that flashed and granted wishes to all those who had wished.

 

 

 

Wow. How this all came out like this, I’ll never know.  Sorry it’s a little long. I just started writing and could not stop.  I am like that sometimes.  I was picturing the Perseids meteor shower in August of every year.  One of my favorite meteor showers. And I imagine making love under the stars would be, well.  Eh em, moving on.  Lets just say that it sounds delightful.  This was probably not the prompt Daily Prompt: Lucky Star meant, but this is what you get.  I love it and the image is so vivid in my mind.

Enjoy

Signing off

~Kate

A Not Too Shabby Finish

A month ago I posted a short story that I entered into a small writing contest that was being held in my valley.  It was endorsed by the two little libraries, and the theme this year was, “It was a dark and stormy night…”  Well, I entered with my piece titled, The Making of a Private Eye, which you can read if you click the title.

Well, much to my delight, I ended up in second place for the adult submissions!  I was quite pleased, and I hope it helps forward my career.  It was good practice for me as I’m not comfortable showing off my work to most people.  I am embarrassed most of the time because I’m far from confident that anything I write is worth reading.  Funny thing to be a writer.  What is the point of writing if you never show it to anyone?!

So, there you have it.  Supposedly I get a certificate and a button.  We’ll see.  I’m just happy to have the second spot.  Now, I have to find out about the anthology that they say my story should be in.  I think.  I guess I had best call.

Signing off

~Kate

The Making of a Private Eye : Short Story

Sorry for the 'sexy' aspect of this pic. I was trying for lady detectives, but wow, not easy to find. 😛

This last week I entered a short story contest my local library is hosting with the prompt of “It was a dark and stormy night…”.  I entered with a short story I have had in the works. It was actually a real novel I was attempting, however, after a year of playing around with it, it has gone nowhere.  I tweaked the ending a bit and the result is a story that I think has potential for something later on. Enjoy below.

 

The Making of a Private Eye by Katie Lyn Branson

It was a dark and stormy night. Lightning flashed and thunder boomed, shaking the old brick building where my offices were housed. I was at my desk reading information about a client whose daughter was missing. Most private investigation consists of reading about people.

I reached for the stale cup of coffee staring at me, ready to drink it, then decided it wasn’t worth the caffeine fix. I hated cold coffee. I was just about to ask Billie Jean, my secretary, to flip on the heat under the leftover pot on the stove in the small kitchenette, when the outer office door slammed open. I heard Billie greet the person. I leaned sideways to look through the open door of my office.

Of all the offices in the city, he had to walk into mine. His fedora dripped water all over my Indian carpet and rivulets streaked down his drenched gray raincoat. Just what I needed. Someone else ruining my rug. I had just had it cleaned, and here was someone else messing it up all over again.

“Can I help you sir?” Billie asked with her Brooklyn twang. She smacked her gum and I winced at the sound. I’d been on her case for months about the gum chewing habit, but still no luck. I figured it was a lost cause with Billie Jean.

“I’d like to see Mr. Swiftfoot, please.” His voice was as smooth as a glass of aged bourbon. Not that I ever drank any.

“Yah mean, Miss Swiftfoot, don’t cha?” Billie smacked her gum again.

“No, I mean Mr. Swiftfoot Private Investigator.” The man’s voice was tinged with annoyance. “Hold on one minute, sir.” Billie buzzed the office connection even though the door was open. “Boss, someone here to see you. You want me to send him in?”

“Yes, Billie, send him in.” I used my gruffest voice for the pure fun of seeing the man’s reaction.

Just as he stepped through the door I closed my lipstick tube and smacked my lips to set the color.

“Pardon me, miss, but I’d like to see your boss, Mr. Swiftfoot.” I looked up slowly, and almost dropped my jaw. He was tall and thin, but I wasn’t able to see his face well due to the shadow his hat created.

“I’m sorry, Mr., …..” I trailed off in question.

“Black. Andrew Black.” He answered and removed his hat. His hair was a glossy black, with a bit of a wave falling over his right eye. His eyes, were a soft gray. Little crinkles nestled in the corners of his eyes. His nose was thin and narrow and his mouth was thin as well, a sardonic quirk to it. He wasn’t handsome in the normal way but the quality of his bearing was appealing.

“Well, Mr. Black, I’m afraid there’s been some mistake. I’m Grace Swiftfoot, Private Investigator. I run this business.”

“You! How’s it possible a woman’s running a private investigation? It’s a man’s business.” Mr. Black growled the accusation.

“Well, Mr. Black, I beg to differ, but if you have a problem with a woman investigating something, Cheshire and Burke is just down the street. You can go drip water all over their carpets. However, since you’re here, I’m betting they turned you down, because most of the time, I’m considered a last resort. Fortunately, I have an almost perfect record in finding whatever you need found.” I sat back down in my chair and crossed my arms waiting for him to speak.

It didn’t take long. He sighed, tapped his hat against his thigh and then sat down in the chair across from my desk.

“Well, you’re right, Miss Swiftfoot. Cheshire and Burke did turn me down. I need help finding someone.”

“Of course,” I replied.

***

Jessica stopped reading and looked at her friend, Hank, who sat across from her at Rosie’s Diner drinking a cup of coffee.

“Well?” Hank asked, waving his hand for Jessica to continue reading.

“That’s it. I don’t have any more,” she said. She toyed with the spoon resting on the napkin and made damp marks with the coffee that remained in the spoon.

“You don’t have any more? But you had me hooked. What happens to this Black character? You can’t leave me hanging like that.”

“I’m sorry, Hank, but I haven’t been able to write anymore.” Jessica sighed. She’d been trying to work on this story for several days now. She’d woken on Tuesday morning after an incredible dream about this Andrew Black character. She could still see his gray eyes in her mind.

Marilyn came by with the coffee pot. “Do you need a refill?” she asked Jessica.

“Thanks Mare. Yes.” Jessica pushed her cup over.

“So whatcha working on?” she asked with her Brooklyn accent, smacking her gum in the process. Jessica glanced over at Hank who was attempting to not laugh. Obviously Jessica had used Marilyn as a model for Billie Jean.

“Nothing much. A story I had an idea for.”

“It’s not another private eye novel, is it?” Marilyn asked.

Jessica turned a bright shade of pink. She’d been trying to write detective stories for ages, and apparently news had gotten out.

“Um, yes, I am,” Jessica replied.

“Can I see this one?”

Jessica looked at Marilyn in surprise. Usually no one asked to see her work. She pushed the page over to Marilyn who snatched it up and scanned the page while she smacked her gum. When she finished she looked over the page at Jessica.

“Not bad. I like this Billie Jean character.”

Hank smothered a laugh and Jessica kicked him under the table.

“This Andrew Black guy sounds like a real piece of work. I’m not sure you can trust him.”

“And why is that?” Jessica asked with a brow arched.

“Well, you can’t trust any man who doesn’t care where water is dripping. Plus, it’s obvious he doesn’t like women.” Marilyn tapped the page against her chin for a moment. “Yah know, he sounds real familiar like. I swear he’s just like the guy who comes in every morning for breakfast.”

Jessica stared at Marilyn.

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“Well, every morning there’s this guy that comes in, orders the exact same thing, and he looks just like what you wrote. He isn’t handsome, really, but he has these gray eyes that are really intense. Kinda like they’re looking through you. He gives me the willies, but he tips real well.”

Hank snorted. “What’s with you women and eyes. And so long as he tips well, you’re okay with it?”

Marilyn ignored him. “Hey, maybe you should stop by tomorrow morning around seven. You can see for yourself.” She handed back the paper and sauntered off to clean the counter.

“So are you gonna?” Hank asked.

Jessica thought for a bit, tapping the page on the table. “I don’t know, but it wouldn’t hurt to see. I mean, if anything, it might help me write more of this story.”

Hank shook his head resignedly. “You’re crazy,” he muttered into his coffee.

Jessica swatted at his head but missed when he ducked. “Hey, you wanted to know what happened. Now we can find out.” Jessica smiled to herself. There was no way she’d pass up an opportunity like this. Even if the man wasn’t like the guy in her book, there was a bit of mystery to be had. And a private eye story would starve without mystery.

“Hey, if it helps, the guy came in the other day after it rained and he was dripping water everywhere,” Marilyn hollered from the cash register. “Oh, and Rosie just told me he was looking for somebody.”

Jessica turned to Hank, wide-eyed who was staring at her. Now she had to come in and check this out.

 

So, there you have it. I welcome any comments, but I mostly hope you enjoy.

Signing off

~Kate

© Katie Lyn Branson and Kate’s Bookshelf, 2009-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katie Lyn Branson and Kate’s Bookshelf with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.