Beginnings

Every week Les writes for about 30 minutes. That’s it. 30 minutes every Saturday in our writing group. She writes beginnings. She pulls a prompt and from there runs with it. She never finishes the story, leaving us in an agonizing hanging sort of way as we wonder what happens. But each week she pulls a new prompt and starts a new beginning. She says she is going to write a book of her beginnings. I rather like that idea. A book of starts. You could travel off with them yourself, or heck, as our writing group suggested, have them for a creative writing class in high school where the kids have to finish the stories.

I actually understand that feeling. Writing a beginning. Most of my ideas for novels came from a beginning from a dream mixed with a song lyric or song and some random thought. Nothing fancy, but suddenly a whole world has exploded out into this world of characters that are connected to other novel’s characters.  I know, books start with beginnings. It’s a duh moment. But what I mean is, I never plan to have a novel. I never sit down and go, “I’m going to write a novel.” I just have an idea so I start writing a ‘blurb’ of sorts, and then I’m planning houses and names and places they visit and who is in like with who (I say like because while love is the ultimate goal, it starts off as a like).

John Ireland in 1917, by Jane Emmet de Glehn

John Ireland in 1917, by Jane Emmet de Glehn

Today I woke up to the sounds of a piano boldly crashing as my alarm radio zinged on to NPR’s First Concert Saturday…. John Ireland’s Legend symphony was 3 minutes in and it hit me like a Rachmaninoff dirge. But I kind of liked it. In a “it woke me up jazzed and ready for my writing group” sort of inspiration.  So I wrote a beginnings because of it.

“She woke to the sounds of John Ireland’s ‘Legend’ symphony. Dramatic piano’s plundering the deep and depth of a gray and solemn day. Raw like Rachmaninoff. Depressing. Moody. The radio crackled with static as the pounding woke her up, her mind light-hearted and ready to start the day despite the dirge.”

That’s it. Nothing much, but a beginning non-the-less. I like the idea of a book of beginnings. Most of my writing group, other than the unholy writings of Sera who had too many novels plotted out, writes beginnings. Maybe it’s just our way of getting a start.

Kate

“I’m very afraid of dying.” – Flash Fiction

Just a little piece I wrote in today’s writing group. I had the prompt of Bossa Nova, mulberry, and page 157 which in Paul Coelho’s book , The Devil and Miss Prym, gave me the title of the piece.

The atmosphere of the room is smoky and dim as he sits in the worn leather chair sipping a glass of port. The port is aged and thick. Richer than mulberry jam spread on toast. The rich sounds of a bossa nova song come crackling out of the old speakers. The crackle is either from the scratched record or the ancient stereo. Who knows, and nobody cares. The music needs the static to tone down the oppressive beat, the trumpets hitting too high a note here and there.
“I’m very afraid of dying,” he says conversationally, to no one in particular.
The younger man, sitting opposite him sipping his whiskey eyes him with an arched brow.
“You are going philosophical? How much port have you had?” the young man asks. He’s not really young, but forty to his sixty seems practically juvenile.
“Phil, when you get to be my age, you’ll get it,” the man says.
“And what brought this on?” asks Phil.
The man sighs. Even he’s not sure. Maybe he has had too much port. Or maybe seeing his friend go through so many treatments only to waste away until nothing is left but skin and bones and pain and sorry. Till your mind gives up and one day you just don’t wake up.
Phil can’t understand. He’s never had to lose someone. Never hardly been sick.
Just wait till your sixty, thinks the man. Heck, wait till you’re fifty and you can’t get out of bed each morning without everything hurting. No, young people just don’t get it.

 

My parents always talk about how when you reach fifty it’s all down hill.  Boris said he felt it at 48. Honestly, at times I feel like I’m already feeling it, but I am dreading getting older. And other than that, this is just something that came out of the prompts. Nothing more.

Kate

Under The Clock Towers – Flash Fiction

clock tower

Circus Lane, Edinburgh, United Kingdom by Omar Yassen

Shafer nursed his pint of Guinness at the worn bar under the Clock Towers that sheltered the old tavern. The pub had been there so long the wood bar was dark and greasy from years of dirty palms and spilled drinks. Dents and gouges marked the wood giving it character and a sense of presence to the smoky interior. Old men of a certain age sat huddled in groups, round tables or in the hard wooden booths. There was an air of silent comradery to the mumbled conversations that filled the pub with a hum that had neither a beginning nor an end. It was as it had always been, ever since Shafer was old enough for his first pint.

That was long ago; though not so long that he was ready to join in with one of the groups of men. That and he was still a loner. Always had been. Maybe it was his occupation that kept him from joining in. He knew too much about everyone there. He knew who had been unfaithful to which wife, or who owed so much on their bill at the pub. He dealt in information, using it like currency. Though he never used it for favors. He was, at best an honest dealer.

People came to him for information, he gave it to them, and they paid, leaving happy with the news, or at least, satisfied, albeit disturbed at times. But he couldn’t help how people took his information. He never promised to sugar-coat it. He was blunt and to the point. If people didn’t want to know the answer, they shouldn’t ask the question.
Despite what he knew, people still treated him with a modicum of respect. He supposed it was because they were afraid he might report any illegal activity to the authorities, which he could have done numerous times. But he had a reputation of discretion and he liked to keep it that way. It was bad for business if you were a snitch.

The door to the pub swung open and an icy blast of January cold blew in through the door, biting at the heels of the charming woman who stepped in hesitant and unsure. She quickly shut the door behind her as some of the patrons emitted growls of displeasure at the cold surrounding their old bones

Shafer watched her as her eyes adjusted to the gloom. She was as lovely now as when she had come to him two weeks ago. Dressed in a long, forest green wool jacket, buttoned up to the neck with brass buttons, she looked very prim and proper. And so out of place in the pub that Shafer decided to be nice and rescue her from her fortress of uneasiness. He tapped his glass creating a slight ring and her eyes flew towards the sound. He saw a smattering of relief in her eyes as she recognized him and made her way around the tables to the bar.

Normally he would have met her in his office, but the walls there had ears, especially with the information he had found out. Here, at least, no one cared that much about secrets. Beer had a tendency to loosen the tongue and nothing was ever taken seriously.

“Mr. Shafer,” the woman greeted, her eyes darting around the room.

“Mrs. Ballington.”

“You said you had some information for me?” She questioned as if unsure of the message he had sent her telling her so and where to meet him.

“I do. Would you like a drink?”

“No. No, thank you.” She nervously moistened her lips

Shafer sighed. He hated to do this with such a decent lady.

“Could you just tell me?” she nearly whispered.

“Yes. Your husband is having an affair. In fact, he’s having three.” He sighed again as he saw the way the words hit her and she started to crumble.

 

Wow. So I don’t normally finish a piece of fiction thinking, “wow,”, but this time I certainly did as I read this on Saturday at my writing group. D and I sat there and I just knew it was a good piece.I want to finish it, but I’m not sure how, or where I’d go with it. But with the word prompts of clock towers, forest green, and Guinness, I went from being totally uninspired an hour prior, to being super excited at the end. I’m loving this flash fiction moments that hit. They are really inspiring.

I sort of saw this as a piece that could take place at any time, though with the coat the woman wears, I think steampunk. A long green jacket that goes almost to the floor, with those brass buttons that I picture as being shiny. And I see the woman as an auburn haired lady with her hair up almost Gibson girl style.

I do hope you enjoy and I’ll see if I can make this go further.

Kate

Purple Mountain’s Majesty – Flash Fiction

Here is a piece I wrote just this weekend during my local writing circle. I have been making up my own writing prompts using scrapbook paper  and a prompt, a color, and a number on the little slip of paper. For those wondering about great colors… Try Crayola colors on Wikipedia. I love the titles, always have, Midnight Blue being an absolute favorite, along with Mint Green and Chartreuse.   Or try paint chips. A wealth of color names and ideas come from paint chips. Well, the writing prompts went over great, and one of the ones I chose had Crayola’s purple crayon, Purple Mountain’s Majesty, on it. So here’s the inspired piece of flash fiction.

Via Robby Hare blog

She sat at her morning spot, the nook on the east side of the house. Not really a nook so much as a seat under the window with a wide enough ledge to set her coffee cup. It was her time of  uninterrupted moments. Her time without a husband calling for something to be ironed or where were his cuff links. It was before the mountain sunrise. It was almost before the stars had set. The time between time.

She sat reading Amar Singh’s Diary about Imperial India. She had picked the book up on a whim at a library book sale. Maybe the color had intrigued her. Or maybe it was because it was about India. She always wanted to go to India but had never really put the idea into motion. So she read about it.

While she read, she idly flipped one of her son’s crayons over and over in her left hand. Somehow, her nook had been confiscated recently to be an art studio. There were crayons in cups on the window sill and abstract drawings taped to the wall. Jeremy was a mini Picasso. Or just a very ordinary five-year-old boy.

She glanced at the crayon in her hand. Purple Mountain’s Majesty was the color. How fitting to be holding a color that matched what she could see and what was her favorite view. A shadowed purple, not as clear as Lavender or lilac, but so pleasing. The color was waxy and warm in her hands. She set the crayon down just as the first diamond ray of the sun peaked over the jagged mountains.

Yes, the view was most definitely Purple Mountain’s Majesty.

 

Enjoy.

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

Artist Mad – Writing 101 Day 12

“Gah, the blue! So stupid!” The woman railed and flung her arms wide, disgusted, at the painting hung under delicate lights to enhance its bold colors. She stamped off towards another painting, her red kitten heels slapping the  white, wood floors.

Behind her trailed the younger woman and man, her arm through his, as she leaned close to his bent head.

“And why did we bring her?” Janell muttered to Todd as they stopped at another painting in the very white, very austere gallery. This was another abstract piece. Slashes of olive green with bits of red, ocher, and turquoise dotted and swirled in an alarming pattern. It was not a comfortable painting. Janelle arched a brow, but kept her comments to herself.

An original Sharon Meyers piece titled "What Doesn't Kill You, Murders You In Your Sleep

An original Sharon Meyers piece titled “What Doesn’t Kill You, Murders You In Your Sleep

“It’s. . . ah . . .” Todd trailed off.

“Horrible! Too bold. To impertinent. Too Imperialistic.”

“Well, um, it’s not that bad,” Todd said, then flinched as the woman rounded on him, her long grey hair snapping, icy blue eyes burrowing into the tall man until he slouched in fear.

“It. Is. Disgusting.” The woman snapped at him, then whirled and marched off towards another painting, pushing through the groups of people holding champagne flutes. They had come to the opening gala of the artist, Sharon Meyers. A celebrated painter if one was to believe the critics. And one usually did.

“Imperialistic?” Janelle asked, but Todd just shook his head and sighed.

By all accounts, or as far as Janelle could tell, the evening had been a smashing success.

Several paintings had been placed in new homes and the curator of the gallery had been all smiles. Despite the railings of a crazy, mad woman who had practically insulted every painting there and the idiocy of the people purchasing the artwork.

Janelle sighed as she watched the other woman rail at another painting.  She tugged Todd to her side. 

“Next time your mother shows a series of paintings, leave her home,” Janelle requested and winced as Sharon Meyers pointed a sharp, red nail at a scared man who was admiring an abstract flower.  “She’s going to scare off any prospective buyers of her work.”

Todd just groaned and reached for another glass of champagne on a tray as a waiter passed by.  His mother was completely insane. But it was art….

I write a lot of critiques, what with book reviews and general opinions. So I decided to forego a traditional critique and write a bit of flash fiction. I had several ideas as I wrote this, and it was quite fun. Ah, those crazy artists out there. Me being one. 😛

As for the painting…. Well, it is an original Sharon Meyers piece…. *wink wink*

 

Kate

 

Daffodils And Almond Cookies – Writing 101 Day 4 – Flash Fiction

photo-1436564989038-18b9958df72b

He knocked on the door, the bouquet of daffodils bright and cheery in his fist while the day was dreary and wet with low slung clouds. He smiled brightly as she opened the door.

“Henry! Those are beautiful. Are they for me?” Narcissus asked and held open the door for Henry to enter.

Henry nodded and  slipped in the door, slipping off his rubber boots before he tracked in water onto her pristine floor.  He thrust out the bouquet and was relieved when Narcissus took the flowers from him and motioned for him to follow her.

“Would you like some cookies? I just baked some almond drop cookies.  And I can put on the kettle for some tea.”

Henry nodded again and trailed after her. He loved her house. It always smelled good, like her. Warm, sweet, and a little bit like vanilla.  She always had pretty flowers everywhere, but daffodils and narcissus were her favorites since they were her name.

“You’re quiet today, Henry.  What kind of tea would you like?” She asked as she reached up on a shelf in the kitchen for a square vase that was bright turquoise.

“Do you have the Woolong tea?” He asked and sat down in his favorite chair at her kitchen table. It faced the stove and he could watch her fix the tea.

The Oolong?” She clarified, and he nodded. “I do have that tea.  I just had a new tin arrive, so I’m dying to try it.  Why don’t you get the poppy teapot down.”

Henry grabbed the step stool and got the cream and red poppy teapot down from the top shelf and filled it with hot water from the kettle. He waited for the porcelain to heat then poured out the water. Narcissus scooped four teaspoons into the pot and Henry filled it again with almost boiling water. They worked together quietly and perfectly as they had been making tea together for a long time. As long as Henry could remember.

While the pot was steeping, she pulled out an eggplant colored bowl filled with crisp cookies that were covered in sliced almonds. They made Henry’s mouth water. She pulled out mix-matched plates and set them on the table next to the vase of daffodils.

Henry filled the creamer with milk and found the little spoons she liked to stir the tea, then she was pouring the tea into white cups. Henry leaned in and sniffed the steam, fogging his black glasses.  Narcissus laughed and he smiled.

She fixed her tea and he fixed his with just a little milk and a lump of sugar she dropped into his cup with the little tongs. She passed him the bowl of cookies and he took two.

“Now, Henry. Tell me how your days was.  Tell me what you learned in third grade today?”

“Okay, Aunt Narcissus,” Henry answered and took a bite of cookie before he started to tell her about the horrible fractions he was learning in school.

 

So the assignment for Day 4: a story in a single image.  This is actually an easy assignment for me to do because one of my favorite things to do is to take a picture and write about it. Any picture, though I didn’t really like any of the ones suggested with the assignment.  Fortunately they directed me to Unsplash where the pictures are completely free and high resolution. I urge you to take a look because license free images are not easy to find.

I do hope you enjoy this piece of flash fiction. I could have gone so many different ways with this, but as I wrote, I started picturing Timmy in The Sea is Blue where he goes to visit an older friend.  It’s one of my favorite books.  Sometimes I think I might make a good aunt.

Kate

Death By Chocolate Pudding – Flash Fiction

He was found floating; face up with a telltale smear on his cheek. He would have been fine

Jell-O brand chocolate pudding

Jell-O brand chocolate pudding (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

had he not tried to eat the whole vat.

 

Sometimes flash fiction comes from collaboration. Surprisingly this came from Mr. B and DB last week when I made chocolate pudding for breakfast. (it was on top of a dutch pastry. Don’t judge…)

Kate

A Sample of Something New

I’ve been plugging away at a story that I started a couple of years ago.  It’s mostly for my own enjoyment, but it is something I have two volunteer editors helping me hash out the finer points.  Part of the reason I’m posting it here is because of a bit of a challenge over on Hallie Chandler’s blog, titled I Want To See Your Hook.

This is a bit more adult in nature, but I’ve kept it clean.  This is just an excerpt, but please, enjoy……

 

She padded into the classroom, her black satin robe tight around her nude form. She glanced around the room and took in the students setting up and the professor shuffling papers on his desk. It was a normal class for the most part. Girls studiously set out their pencils, paper, and smudgers. The smaller group of guys eyed her with interest. She could always got those looks considering the type of modeling she was doing. Although some were actually there to advance their artistic studies, there were a few bold stares. Stares like those made her wonder why she modeled.

Suddenly her eyes were captured by an intense masculine gaze. Electric. She felt the jolt hit deep in her belly—the shockwaves rushed up her spine and she almost gasped out loud because the breathless feeling was so intense. The tingling sensation raised the hair along the nape of her neck, down her arms, and tightened her nipples. She ducked her head as she stepped up to the platform, before risking another glance. He was studying her, his gaze no longer on her face but contemplating the rest of her body, the only visible skin showing from mid calf down to bare feet. With his eyes averted from hers she studied him easily right back.

He was an older man, early-to-mid fifties with short cropped salt-and-pepper hair. His eyes were deep set, but expressive. His darker brows enhanced each facial expression. The man had a strong chin, a cultured mouth and a patrician nose, all signs of class. That, and the fact that his clothes were casually modest yet evidently very expensive, a loose fitting cream shirt and dark brown slacks which enhanced his slightly bronzed skin.

Money, class, stature were all written on his form and the way he moved. He didn’t seem in a hurry as he studied her. He took his time, like he was savoring a fine painting. What a nice thought that was.
She sighed in pleasure as his eyes returned to hers. He gave a quick guilty smile then turned back to his tablet of paper, fiddling with some pencils. Well that was new, she thought. Normally men made her nervous and skittish and not the other way around. Men looked at her boldly most of the time and not with politeness. This one knew how to treat a lady. That faint boyish face made him look as if he’d been caught doing something naughty. She almost giggled.

Unfortunately or fortunately, she was facing away from this class today. She knelt on the soft chaise with her back facing the room and then proceeded to loosen her robe as Professor Sharp called the class to order. The object of the lesson was to study the play of light and shadow across the human body.

She slid the robe off her shoulders and let it pool around her hips so that only a faint suggestion of her buttocks could be seen. She half turned so that just the slight curve of one breast was visible to the class and arched her neck slightly, settling her palms in her lap. For the next hour she needed to sit as still as possible.

Thankfully she’d pulled her coppery blond hair into a simple French twist. A few loose tendrils had escaped and brushed the back of her neck and her left ear, softening what could have been considered a cold statue. The hairs made her look real, soft, and completely female.

She imagined the man’s eyes roving over her pale skin as Professor Sharp discussed and directed the students’ motions with pencil. Would he stare intensely, his brows furrowing, making deep creases in his forehead? Perhaps his look would be blank as he thought of where to start first on her form, the curve of her shoulder or the long smooth line of her back. Wherever he started, she wished she could watch, wished she could stare out towards the class, eyes following the movement of his pencil sketching on the paper.

She loved the soothing voice of Sharp and as usual the hypnotic tones of his voice lulled her senses till her mind drifted off. She floated away and her body relaxed slightly and changed the appearance of formidable marble to soft, sensual woman.

 

Signing off

~Kate