Christmas was at Aunt Thelma’s house this year. Once quite the mean and bitter woman, she was softening with age. Their history with her bitterness had her adult children cautious around her. The evening had gone well until two-year-old Ricky touched and dropped Aunt Thelma’s favorite purple vase. The crashing vase left an echo of silence.

 

manAll his life, Stephen Paris had been given everything. Fortunately, he liked school and good grades came easy to him. His father Frederick knew he had spoiled his only son. It was the only way he could get a reaction out of him. “Thanks dad!” An excited boy would grab the toy and go play with it. Stephen was graduating from college next week. His dad had a job lined up for him, but not what he was expecting. Stephen wouldn’t need the new suit or brief case he had purchased.

 

Rachel curled up in the overstuffed chair. Her sunken shoulders and empty stomach rolled together. It had been a month. She thought the tears would have stopped. But they didn’t. Rosemary, Rachel’s mom, was hopeful that her appetite would return. It had not and she continued to lose weight. Every other day she came over to Rachel’s studio apartment to push, pull or tug her into the shower. The first few days Rachel stood naked in the shower and whaled. No doubt she was trying to get all the hurt out quickly. In reality, it would take months if not years. In the meantime, Rachel needed to figure out how to function.

 

storm at sunsetThe crystal blue sky had won over the evil black clouds of the morning thunderstorm. Sun burst through to reveal the devastation left behind. Mark rubbed the back of his neck and shook his head. The stress magnified in the lines on his forehead. The climb out of the basement revealed his home, a mass of wood, bricks and remnants of his belongings.

 

Besides my writing prompts, I’ve not done a lot of writing in the last two months. Ironic isn’t it that I’m prompting others every week. What I have done is get lost in some really great books.  Tonight I finished the last one in the stack.

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I have ideas for plot and blogs, but when I go to write, the words, the tone and cadance don’t come. Flat — empty — nada. It’s August, if I don’t get on it, I’m not going to come close to my annual word count goal.

So, while there are too many books to read and so little time, I declare tonight that I am not going to start another new book for one month — September 20th. And I’m going to write something everyday — even if it’s only glub, glub on a page. Words are going to flow. They may not be pretty. They may not be smooth, but there will be words on a page.

Are you with me?

 

 

dead-flowers-1Although the flowers she received the morning of his arrival had died, Martha rolled over to find her prince charming right where he belonged. Her heart sang with joy in anticipation of their future. The past eight months were shoved into her memory not to be relived.

Monica changed her route. The playground was too difficult; too sad. She relived the tragic day over and over. It was exhausting.  Tim was a help, but he didn’t understand.k2-Child-playground

Writing prompts are a great way to jump start your writing for the day. See what you can do with this line.

saucey dog At the click of Jason’s key, Saucy always came running. Jason suspected it was to keep him from finding the dog lounging on his new couch.  Tonight, he didn’t move. Jason found Saucy on the couch not breathing. Melting to his knees, Jason’s sobs echoed in his silent home.

Ever have one of these things happen to you?tshirt writer

 

A repost of a blog post I had published on the ACFW blog in January 2015.

It started with an email that thousands of other writers received. It was an invitation to participate in the ACFW First Impressions contest. Of the ten or eleven criteria for entry, the most distinctive was that you had to be an unpublished author. That’s me.  I have a manuscript that is very rough. It is a full story but needs some serious re-writes. I’ve played with the characters. I’ve even started to write the second book in the series. As a member of ACFW and a participant in our local chapter in which the members are actual published authors with contracts for more books, I knew it was time to step up my writing game and the First Impressions contest was the way. This was my first contest.

Telling others in my writer’s group meant I couldn’t chicken out. The entry had to be five double-spaced pages from the first chapter. The contest judges would be looking for all the elements of a good first few pages of a book. Was there a hook? Were the characters compelling? Was the writing engaging? Does this passage lead you to want to read more of the story or book?

I began by pulling out the first chapter of my well-aged (and a little dusty) manuscript. I must have looked like “Edward Scissorhands” editing, re-writing, cutting, showing and not telling (how many times have we all heard that). Having scheduled plenty of time before the deadline, I enjoyed the process; to continually work the words and sentences creating a solid story and a smooth cadence. After multiple versions it was ready.

The entry was complete. Admittedly, I opened it a few more times to review before pressing send. I was sending the first five pages of my first novel off to strangers who are going to JUDGE them. Needless to say it was a little intimidated. Will they love it? Will they hate it? Will they tell me to do readers a favor and quit writing?

The results came. I wasn’t a finalist; but I wasn’t a loser. The feedback from the three judges was encouraging and very constructive. I learned a lot from their comments. All of the judges liked the story and said it was compelling enough to want to read more. It just needed some clean-up.

As a non-published author being a part of ACFW can feel like being at the children’s table for the holiday. The first time you’re invited to the grown up table can be a little scary, but you go. You listen and learn.

The First Impression contest was a great way for me to start learning more about improving my craft. If you are reading this and you are at the table with me, let me encourage you to be open to letting someone more experienced give you feedback. When my book is published, I will be available and willing to cheer you on.

Enjoy the journey.