Calories and Pages

I had a couple of readers ask me why I bothered to finish The Burnt House if I disliked it so much. Seems like a fair question. I have a multi-part response:

First, I don’t read like I used to. There was a time I devoured books! A book on the night stand, a book in the bathroom, an audio in the car…I had multiple stories going at one time. I could keep them all straight and I loved reading every book (even if I didn’t love every story). Now, pfft, I start a book, put it down. Start a new book, leave it behind. Start another book…you get the idea. I’d begin many books and finish none. I still have a book in every room, on every table, but only because that’s where I left it when I stopped reading. So, I decided I will finish what I start. Even dreadfully bad books.

Second, there is still much to discover from a book I find flawed. I mean, come on, it’s by Faye Kellerman! She’s a New York Times best selling author with over 30 publications, many of which I’ve enjoyed. She must be doing something right. She has a lot to teach and I have room to grow.

Third, I think it’s okay to have an opinion. I think it’s okay to share that opinion. BUT, I also believe there should be depth to your opinion. Can I truly say a book is bad if I didn’t even read it? If you happen to LOVE The Burnt House, if it happens to be your FAVORITE book of all time, cool beans. I respect that. I would love to discuss!

A few years back, I had a friend who compared unsatisfying calories to non-pleasurable reading. Why finish a piece of pie you don’t really like? Why waste valuable calories on a bland cookie? She said reading was the same way–why waste pages on a story you don’t enjoy? With SO MANY flavorful delicacies out there (literary and dessert-y), why not hold out for what you truly savor? I thought that was brilliant. But honestly, it’s gotten too easy to not finish a book. Too easy to find fault and stop reading. I think I’m starving. I need nourishment, even if that means consuming bland pages.

It’s a theory. I’m sticking with it.

Thank you for reading. I hope you consider my posts to be tasty morsels.

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3 Sentence Reviews

I want to share my thoughts on the books, television series, and movies that I read and watch, but I realize you’re probably bombarded with reviews already. I mean, everybody is binging in one form or another. And everybody has an opinion, right?

So, I’ve got a gimmick. I’m going to summarize my review in three sentences. A quick and easy read, right to the point, no spoilers. Please note: The first caveat of 3 Sentence Reviews is this, Always consider the 4th Sentence to be that the book or movie was too long and could’ve used a tighter edit. I’m only going to say it in this one post, but always presume a piece should have been shorter and less repetitive. ALWAYS.

The idea is still new to me, it may sometimes be a challenge to properly convey my thoughts in three measly (although potentially run-on) sentences, but I believe I will get better as I go.

That said, ironically, the book that spawned this idea is called, The Burnt House, by Faye Kellerman, an author I have frequently read and much enjoyed in the past. This book is #16 in her Decker series and was published in 2007 but neither the date nor previous history were the problem. I kept reading, thinking it would get better, yet my first comment upon finishing this book was, “Bad, bad, bad.” That wasn’t much of a write-up, so I challenged myself to get to at least three sentences…and I came up with: 1. Bad. 2. Bad. 3. So bad. Those sentiments still fall short of conveying why I would not recommend this book.

Instead I offer my first official 3 Sentence Review:
1. The writing, pacing, and plot of The Burnt House were not good.
2. The action, dialogue, and characters could have been better.
3. Even the title is lacking–what house burnt?

In the future, I won’t explain the thought process, merely provide three sentences carved from my overthinking, occasionally obsessive, and often detailed examination.

Because I want you to like this idea, I offer a bonus 3 Sentence Review:

I recently finished The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway.
1. The writing held up pretty well considering it was published in 1926.
2. I kept waiting for the TRAGEDY to happen, but it’s not that kind of story.
3. I found many parallels between the fleeting interests and untethered lives of Hemingway’s characters and the youth of today, making it much less dated than I would have assumed.

I hope you will enjoy my speedy reviews. I would love to know your thoughts on:
1. The Burnt House
2. The Sun Also Rises
3. The idea of 3 Sentence Reviews

Write as much as you need to share your opinion. But please note, I may be mentally invoking the 4th Sentence.

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Happy New Year!

Hopefully this year will be too, too amazing.
Get it? ’22.
We are SO due.

Last year at this time, I stepped away from the weekly blog post to focus on getting other writerly things done. My word for the year was MOTIVATION. Let me correct, my word for that particular week, day, hour–moment? was ‘motivation’. Sadly, I accomplished very little.

So, hey, I’m back. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, I’ve said that before

I realize resolutions have become the punching bag of commitments, a lot of people refuse to make resolutions because they see it as setting yourself up for failure. Others believe that if you need to make a change, just do it; a random date should not be the impetus.

I’ve blogged about resolutions many times throughout the past ten years. And as I kick off my eleventh year, I bring it up yet again. Because, quite honestly, I do love a fresh start. An empty page. A new beginning. And the date is NOW. What was it that Wayne Gretzky said– “You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.” You think hockey’s greatest player would not take a shot because he might be setting himself up to miss? I choose to use a cold, wintry January to begin shooting. To show up and at least try.

I began my Monday posts in 2012. A lifetime ago. A blink of the eyes.
Over 500 posts, six publications, and many, many opining observations.
Better than relying on my memory, I have a digital diary of thoughts, insight, and reflection. Going through old posts today (many are tagged, click the highlighted words), I am overwhelmed. Good, bad, exhausting… pride, loss, disappointment…it’s a strange feeling to reminisce with yourself.

Overall, I find myself needing the Good Monday Morning messages. Hopefully the lessons I have learned over the past decade will inform a new year of posts. Prove engaging, entertaining, and edifying. My gosh, I have missed an avenue for alliteration.

I look forward to revisiting topics like Gifts & Gratitude, BBs, corgis, and life lessons. I hope to share more writing insights, short stories, retreats, conferences, and of course, MY PUBLICATIONS.

I want to touch base with you weekly and I hope you reciprocate. Share your goals, take the shot. Let’s keep each other focused and on-task despite worldly distractions. We can be Accountability Buddies. Two-gether we can make this year Too, Too Amazing!

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So, I went and did a thing…

After a decade or more of ordering through many demonstrators, I finally joined the Stampin’ Up! team.

Stampin’ Up! provides an exclusive line of decorative stamp sets and accessories for handmade cards, scrapbooking, craft projects and home decor. Their products are not available in stores but may be purchased online or through the catalog or parties. I really, REALLY like their products.

Making and sending cards is nothing new for me. Many of you have probably received one of my creations. I am part of a Card Club, where we make cards, not play them. We have been meeting monthly for easily ten years with only minor member shuffling. We’ve maintained a social and creative outlet through careers, kids/grandkids, graduations, health issues, weddings, etc. Enduring through times when social and creative outlets are what keep you busy and give you something to look forward to.

My commitment to SU!, not coincidentally, aligned with lockdown when I was stuck at home. I spend about the same amount of money on crafting as I always did, but my purchases are more focused. No Michael’s, no Hobby Lobby, no vinyl for the Cricut, or paint for the rocks. That doesn’t mean my options are limited, though. I still find plenty of fun things to do and make with SU! supplies.

I registered under a friend I met through Facebook. I’ve spent much time and many dollars supporting other representatives and Rachel Traudt convinced me that I ought to give it a try. She is an active, engaging, and inspirational Team Leader who has been most helpful answering my rookie questions. A Card Club friend and I tried to join as a team, but they only allow solo accounts. Like most other home-businesses, it’s a pyramid. I won’t say ‘scheme’ because aside from meeting the quarterly requirements, there are no other obligations. They are actually quite generous with their offers and expectations. I will say, though, they strongly encourage recruitment. So, if you’re on the fence…I’m here for you!

I’m just a Hobby Demonstrator, but the benefits are the same as others at my level. Bennies grow as sales do, of course, but I can participate in challenges and contests (of which I have won several amazing prizes), am able to connect with demonstrators from all over the world, and have early access to sales and new product. Seriously, I am having so much fun with the opportunities allotted to demonstrators, I want everyone to DO IT! So, yeah, recruitment.

There are SO MANY things I love about SU! products and supplies…I am a paper junkie and I believe they have the best designer series papers and coordinating cardstock and embellishments. SU! also has everything else you might need to craft–from inks, stamps, and dies to paper cutters, adhesives, and embossing tools.

Ever Eden Specialty Designer Series Paper
Painted Christmas Designer Series Paper
Expressions in Ink Specialty Designer Series Paper

LOVE THE PAPER!

Interested, but no experience and wondering where to begin? Try a Paper Pumpkin kit. Order once, or subscribe here. These kits are delivered to you monthly and include everything you need to create cards, crafts, and other projects. There are groups online that are full of additional ideas for the provided supplies to expand your options.

https://www.stampinup.com/products/prepaid-paper-pumpkin-subscription-3-month

As I mentioned, I’m doing this for (me and) my Card Club, but if YOU need any paper crafting supplies, feel free to hit me up. If you are unfamiliar with Stampin’ Up!, I am happy to introduce you. There is no minimum amount needed and you don’t have to host a party. But if your order qualifies, there are rewards! Check out the website, stampinup.com, browse, then find my name listed under the Find a Demonstrator tab on the upper left side of the screen. Or contact me directly for a catalog or to place an order.

A few examples of Stampin’ Up! products in use.

I SHOULD BE WRITING, but since I’m not, at least I’m still creating.

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READ ME!

It’s that time of year again, Spooky Showcase time! For the fourth year, I contributed to Jolene Haley‘s collection of thrilling short stories posted daily throughout the month of October. This year’s theme was These Deadly Curses and was hosted by Midnight Society Tales. Click here to read this story on their site.

Because my story posted on October 30, you’re getting it after Halloween, but for many, thrillers transcend a season. I hope you enjoy.

This Guy

She couldn’t let it go. Let him go. Sure, he’d served his purpose. Quite nicely, indeed. Emily had selected well, her gift helping her to divine the perfect vessel. So why the nagging doubt?

This one had seemed different from the beginning; their ‘meet cute’ actually a cute meet. She’d been drawn to him immediately upon entering the shop, like a wave to shore. He’d been in the produce section of the bodega, a tight fit for his broad frame, and had dislodged a pyramid of tangelos with a wayward elbow. She’d reached in to block the avalanche before they could plummet to the floor. When he’d grazed her arm to readjust the stack, she’d felt the familiar buzz that accompanied identifying a target, but also a terrifyingly delightful zing.

“Orange you sweet for helping,” he’d said coyly, and she’d blushed. Actually blushed!

“What can I say,” she replied, dipping into an adjacent bin and lifting a fruit, “we make a great pear.” They’d shared a punny laugh. It had been an unexpected and welcome change from her usual meets in bars or back alleys.

His name was Ethan and he was new to town. Perhaps she could show him around? Maybe introduce him to a grocer with aisles that facilitated his ‘haven’t been a college linebacker for many years but could still block a run’ physique. Being close to him made her want to be closer. The attraction intense, yet foreign, she proceeded with caution. Or so she thought.

The power in Ethan was strong. Alongside her, his ability absorbed so much negativity, results could be experienced in real time. She couldn’t remember that ever happening before. He’d walk into a waiting room and the general mood would lift. Another major difference, this mark didn’t mind volunteering in the children’s ward at the cancer hospital. He enjoyed working with the homeless at the soup kitchen, and even suggested they muck out stalls at the pet shelter. Places where sadness, grief, and fear weighed heavy on the caring, the stressed, and the ill.

With a sudden feeling of emotional lightness, unknowing audiences claimed the duo brought bliss. It’s not what they brought, it’s what he removed. Ethan acted as a filter, siphoning their worries, misery, and anxiety. He soaked it up like a sponge.

It had been Emily’s previous understanding that those who frequented depressing areas, like bars and back alleys, had a greater depth as containers. Their lifestyles offered a greater capacity for absorbing what they themselves were steeped in. Unfortunately, the negativity was so thick in those areas, they barely skimmed the surface before they were full.

This guy was different. She’d never met a vessel like Ethan. He was optimistic, eager, and kind. On average, Emily turned one a week, sometimes more, but it wasn’t until her fourth month with Ethan, a picnic celebration on the hill overlooking the bodega where they had met, that she circled back to her duties. On the verge of being critically full, Ethan’s jovial laugh came slower, his wit and humor falling short. He grew sluggish. Emily worried about losing him, which was crazy considering her duty was to sacrifice him once his soul could hold no more. Not wanting to further tax–or bloat—him, she begged off hospital visits and old folks’ homes, hoping to eke out a few more days in his company.

Emily had always done whatever it took to get the job completed, her duties trumping her personal discomforts. She’d smoked, drank, gambled, slept with, lied and cheated to entice a mark, contributing to the very actions she was collecting. Ironic? Sure, but her actions were a mere drop in the bottom of their tainted selves. Guys, girls, young, old, rich, poor—there was no specific type that held the ability to soak up the emotional bile humanity secreted. She sought and her gift supplied.

Recently, Emily had wrestled with escalating feelings. The flutter in her belly when Ethan touched her face, stroked her hair, or gazed into her eyes, genuinely admiring and complementing. The tingle in her loins when he touched, stroked, or grazed other parts of her body. A plain Jane by design, Emily succumbed to the unfamiliar attention, universal repercussions be damned.

If she had been the only one benefitting from his attentions, he may have proven easier to rebuff, but . . . the mother whose posture grew in response to the beatific smile of her toddler, the angry dementia patient that calmed at the recollection of joyful memories, and the homeless who banded together to create a community when she and Ethan passed out blankets and sandwiches. These were the people she worked for; the reason she did what she did. She stayed by his side, doing her job, allowing his soul to swell.

Ethan never suspected, even as he grew heavy with the infected emotions he drained. It would have never occurred to him that she was responsible for his decline. He genuinely appreciated her company and told her repeatedly how lucky he was to have met her. “You’re one in a melon,” he said, in tribute to the first crossing of their paths.

Her talent had always been the ability to seek out souls that could, in her presence, absorb the heaviness of humanity. Never before had her gift felt like a curse. She broke protocol when she suggested they spend some time apart, hoping he might regroup. A futile effort. Recovery was not an option. There was only solution, and she was long overdue.

In a full flip of his naturally buoyant personality, Ethan’s fatigue and despair were the final indicators that it was, indeed, time.

So, why couldn’t Emily let go of the idea he wasn’t ready? Could it be because she wasn’t ready? That had never happened before. After decades of the hunt and gather, had she found the one that she connected to in a deeper, more organic way? Was she . . . in love? Did it matter?

She considered this as the ceremonial garb glided over her shoulders. She donned the hood and slipped the sacred athame from its sheath. He had to die; she needed to sacrifice him. Maybe the fact that if she was honest with Ethan, if she explained the circumstances, he would have gladly reclined and guided her hand to his chest, was what held her back. Most vessels were contributors to distress long before they were carriers.

Emily stood over Ethan’s supine body. Per protocol, she had sedated and strapped him to the ceremonial dais. Loose straps, she hoped he wouldn’t wake and didn’t expect a tussle if he did. And also, she hated to cause him discomfort. Beyond, you know, the murder. She stroked his cheek, brushing across his lips, never to see them smile again. Never to touch them to her own. Dragging her hand down his neck and across his chest, she stopped when her fingertips found his heart, the slow, steady beat resonating through her whole body. With a pause, she allowed her rhythm to sync with his. Emily closed her eyes and imagined one last embrace. A tear slid down her cheek.

A few sacred words, then a piercing of his heart with the antique blade. All of the negative energy he had absorbed would die with him, leaving the world a better place for its remaining inhabitants. For her. She was always left behind.

What if she didn’t do it? What if she saved Ethan? Could he survive with his soul saturated with darkness? Perhaps she could filter him with another vessel? There was no time, deleterious energies were reproducing while she delayed. She needed to wrap this up so she could recruit another. And another. And another. She sobbed, her chest hitching. A writhing ball of emotional conflict, Emily raised the knife and with a trembling hand, plunged.

The soul screams when you kill it, a tea kettle whistling as the steam escapes on the body’s last gasp. Emily, however, breathed easier. Her heart should ache, but that was a pain that had died with this guy.

***

To read my previous Spooky Showcase publications, click here. And here. And here.

This story was inspired by a prompt we did in DAWGs. Much thanks to that new group–it’s so nice to be writing short stories again.
THANKS FOR READING!
Happy . . . November.

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Huh, well that was Weird

After over a year and a half of no travel, I’m ecstatic to post an addition to my “Weird List” Travel Blogs.

I’ve logged strange things from DeKalb, High Point North Carolina, Austin Texas, and Ireland. Twice.

For those of you new to this idea, or in need of a reminder, a “weird list” is comprised of travel moments that make you say, “Huh. Well, that was weird.” My lists include everything from a Salt and Pepper Shaker Convention to Pokemon sock torches to a sack full of grape jam packets to the ‘bat bridge’. My weird bar is pretty low, lol.

  • On our eventual way to Nashville, we stopped at a McDonald’s in Indiana. As we were filling our cups with ice and DC, a woman behind us suddenly states, “My husband and I go there almost every year!” She was referencing the t-shirt Dave was wearing from a bar called Dam Near Home in Albany, Wisconsin. Once I realized what she was talking about, I said, yes, I’d been tubing there, too. Small world weird, sure, but then…she mentions that they stay in a converted hardware store. Debbie and I stayed in that converted hardware store when we did our writers retreat! Smaller world weird, for sure, but then–she says she’d taken a photo of his shirt to send to her husband. Okay, but kinda weird, you know?

Of course, maybe it seemed weird because the last time I stopped at a random McDonald’s in Indiana, I ran into a friend from middle school!

  • Our first night out and about, we entered a bar in Indiana and walked through a cloud of smoke. Figured they’d been smoking outside and just come back in. Nope. Entered into a cloud of smoke. They allow smoking indoors in Indiana! Considering Illinois banned it in 2008 (!), we thought that was weird.
  • I thought it was very cool and worth a ‘weird’ mention that the Village Anchor restaurant we visited used books as their receipt holder. Of course, I left one of my author cards. 🙂
  • We visited an Australian petting zoo! Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo was very cool. Well, it was two hundred degrees outside with even higher humidity, but the zoo was fun. We got to feed kangaroos and emus. What I thought was truly interesting–and genuinely weird–were the kangaroo paws! They have five-fingered hand-like front paws

and, well, WEIRD back feet

They have smaller toes on each side of a single giant, very strong digit. Did you know that?! I did not.

Know what else I did not know? A kangaroo’s pouch looks NOTHING like Kanga from Pooh

Nothing like it.

Of course it’s not a pocket like in toy kangaroo mommas, but…ew. Er, I mean, but…weird. And a little fascinating. I’d never seen that. Had you?

  • We dined in a Bob Evans restaurant. And were surprised to see a dog at one of the tables. Not a service dog. Not an accessory pooch. And not by the table. AT THE TABLE.

Obviously, we thought that was weird.
But it did make this sign we saw later seem less weird.

  • We took a quick detour to the Hidden Hollow Orchard and Kentucky Equine Adoption Center. Truly hidden! GPS kept guiding us and we kept questioning her decisions. But what a weird little treasure this totally organic and wild orchard was. A quick tour, a brief history, and a small bag of interesting types of tasty apples.
  • We attended Ribberfest in Madison, Indiana. Open space on the Ohio River, free bbq samples, and live blues music. It was awesome.

We even got to meet members of the Ghost Town Blues Band. And here’s where I come full circle with another Dave t-shirt story. The guy in line ahead of me was wearing a Sun Studio shirt and a member of the band said he liked his shirt. I was wearing a Cheap Trick shirt (probably the same one as the McD’s reunion posted above) and he said he liked my shirt. I said, “You must say that to everybody.” When I asked if he liked Dave’s shirt–the guy hesitated. And kind of sneered a bit. Dave was wearing a Blackberry Smoke shirt. Seems the band member was not a fan. Seems his reaction was personal, though. Still, a bit weird.

My last entry here is less of a WEIRD and more of a PSA.

We checked into our 12th floor hotel room near Vanderbilt Stadium and first thing I noticed was that there was a balcony. Cool! I walk out, look around

then look down

No diving, indeed.
  • PLEASE, if you think it’s safe to have sex in a hotel pool at four in the afternoon because no one is on the deck, consider your surroundings. All of them, including UP.

Public Service Announcement, sure, but it was a little weird. I mean, THEY WERE RIGHT THERE. DOING IT.

The true purpose of the trip was the AVB convention at the Gaylord Nashville Opryland Hotel. Nothing too weird about that, though. Great meetings, beautiful hotel. We had a fantastic, jam-packed, adventurous couple of days. It was very nice to get away. Let’s hope it’s not another 18+ months till the next trip.

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About a DAWG

Hi, my name is Mary Lamphere and I’m a lonely writer. Even after so many, many months of very limited exposure, zero to no socialization, and hardly any work demands, I find myself struggling to finish a manuscript.

I would have thought that with ALL THAT TIME, I could have cranked out a couple of novels, short stories, and, what the heck, a few personal essays, too, just for fun and time-filler–but alas, I did not.

I have been writing for over ten years. I’ve met a few goals, achieved some personal successes, and hope to celebrate more. I have several novels in the works and come up with ideas all the time. Unfortunately, I suffer from many procrastinatory ailments such as laundry, Netflix, and Facebook. I need external deadlines. I need to be held accountable. I need to share work and exchange ideas. I need to learn and experience and expand my writing world. I need people!

I strongly believe that writers need other writers. That’s why I’m rebooting the DeKalb Area Writers Group. DAWGs was my very first collaboration of committed writers. We focused on short stories based on a shared prompt, editing of those stories to a mandated 1,000 word limit, and the reading and critiquing of these monthly flash fiction submissions. We also shared our struggles and successes as authors. DAWGs has continued in various forms since its inception, but, much like me, lost its steam during lockdown. The reception of the news and support of the new group has been wonderful. I feel reinvigorated already!

DAWGs is a dedicated community of authors who have decided to take their passion for writing seriously in pursuit of completion, submission, and/or publication.

All genres, styles, and levels of experience are invited to join. We will meet monthly to work on short stories based on a selected prompt and share literary lessons, successes, concerns, and opportunities.

DAWGs will meet the 3rd Thursday of each month in the Bilder Room at the DeKalb Public Library from 6 to 8 pm.

If you are interested in joining DAWGs, check out the website, DeKalb Area Writers Group or contact Mary at DeKalbAreaWritersGroup@gmail.com

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And that’s all she wrote…

regarding the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge.

As you may recall, or click the link to read anew, I made it through Round One with, The Bully King, incorporating the 3 requirements: Fairy Tale, Bully, and Acceleration. I advanced to Round Two where I submitted a piece called Done Deal, based on: Drama, Trustee, and Touch Screen. What?! Yeah, I found that assignment a bit more difficult to work with.

I did not make the Top 5.
*deep sigh*
I’m not surprised, but still a bit disappointed.
Deep sigh aside, drama is a hard genre for me. And also, I don’t really know what Trustees do. Based on the comments by the judges, they agree. You can read what they had to say here.

Regardless of my loss, and dramatic deficits, I am proud to share my submission with you. Click here to read Done Deal.

So that’s all I’ll write for NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge this year.
It was a great experience. I enjoyed writing the short stories. I enjoyed the challenge. I look forward to participating again.

In the meantime…
I’m seriously considering starting a DeKalb area writers’ group!
Stay tuned.

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I Advanced to the Next Round

in the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge!

The first round of submissions were due back in January and results were posted last week. There were over 6000 entries in Round 1! Broken in groups of 25 or so, each group was assigned their own set of story requirements. We had one week to write a short story based on the prompts with a word limit of 2500.

The key ingredients for my group were
genre: Fairy Tale
subject: Acceleration
character: a Bully

I LOVED my requirements.

I wrote a story titled, The Bully King, about a cruel and petty ruler who makes a wish in the hopes of wreaking additional terror but when the wish doesn’t meet his expectations, he makes another with even more challenging results. The word count was under 2500, and I submitted a full day early of deadline.

I placed 3rd in my group. The top five advanced to Round 2.

The 1,090 advancing writers were placed in new groups and challenged to create stories no longer than 2,000 words in just 3 days based on a new genre, subject, and character assignment.

A brand new story in 3 DAYS?!
A brand new story based on these obligations for my group
genre: Drama
subject: a Touchscreen
character: a Trustee
IN THREE DAYS?!

Suffice it to say, I was not nearly as excited about this round’s selections. I believe they were more of a challenge, but I did finish my story under the word count and also with early submission.

(When I get to a certain point, I feel it’s better to be done than risk messing it up and prefer to submit so it’s not hanging over my head anymore!)

I’m confident in my new story whether I advance or not. I enjoyed the challenge of a genre outside my comfort zone. Round 3 begins May 21, so I imagine we will have results for Round 2 by May 19. The next round allows only two days.

I will keep you posted.

This experience has been a lot of fun. It revived my dormant desire to write short stories. I’ve been out of writerly practice and enjoyed rekindling my skills.

If you’d like to read my advance-worthy story, The Bully King, click here.
I hope you enjoy it.

I have also posted the comments from the judges regarding my story here.

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Sometimes it’s the Big Things

You may remember a post I wrote about coffee creamers. It was May of 2020, we were barely into the covid lockdown, but it was already impacting our lives. I blogged about missing the little things like restaurant meet-ups with my writer friends, laughter, hugs, and free coffee refills with a bowl full of creamers on the table.

The next day, I received a box of creamers from Amazon. Given anonymously, the gift was accompanied only by a friendly unsigned note. It was the perfect pick-me-up. A small gesture with deep impact. Delighted, I kind of suspected who the generous donor was–but mostly I liked the idea of thinking it could have been one of many. Because I want to believe that many have such potential.

The giver was my friend, Mike.
When I texted him to ask if he’d sent them, I immediately added, no, don’t tell me.
And he didn’t.
But I knew it was him.

Mike recently died unexpectedly. He went into the hospital three weeks ago. He never came home.

I sent a card a few days before his passing, to his address, not the hospital. Inside I wrote, I’m not sure when you’ll get this, but luckily well-wishes don’t expire. I hope his family opens it and reads it. They could use some well-wishes about now.

I went to high school with Mike. We had a couple of classes together, art mostly. And we shared the same initials, lol. We’d known each other a long time, but it was really only through Facebook that we got to be friends. He lived in Nebraska and owned a flower shop. He was a genuinely nice guy. Smart, funny, helpful, authentic, spiritual. Since his passing, I have discovered just how many people experienced those Mikely traits. The stories we’ve shared through social media in remembrance are touching, humorous, silly, and honest. Heartwarming and heartbreaking.

Mike is not the first friend, family, or loved one I’ve lost during the past many months. Last year, I blogged about the little things I was missing during lockdown. I assume we’ll get most little things back.
Today I write about the big things I miss–this friend and many more, the ones we’ll never get back.

My heart aches for those lost during these isolated times and, until we can hug again, those left to mourn alone.

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