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Final Daily Shorty!

30 Apr

Peanut Butter Soft ServeI did it. I actually did it. I was hoping to end the year with a really good story but it was even more important to me to finish before it was too late in the day, so that I could enjoy the accomplishment this evening and go to bed knowing that all is well. So once something took hold this morning, I worked it and worked it, then came back to it after lunch and worked it some more until I’ve got the best story I could make of the premise. It’s not so great. The ending feels wrong. But after a couple of hours of final tinkering, I called it DONE. To celebrate I got a peanut butter supreme from the Dairy Joy in Lewiston, which happens to be within easy walking distance of my apartment, something to both cheer and boo, but mostly to cheer. A peanut butter supreme is a cup of peanut butter soft serve with hot fudge. Sadly I didn’t think to photograph it before I ate it, but it looked a lot like the picture here (but mentally add hot fudge). YUM. Tomorrow I’m having dinner at my favorite Maine restaurant, Fore Street in Portland, as a more complete celebration. And… well, that’s it. I’ll be playing on this site some more, adding nerd romps I didn’t have time for while producing my stories, including Story Facts pages for the 8 months I haven’t analyzed, and a page for each of the writer friends who joined me for a week during the challenge. Otherwise my only immediate plans are to sleep and read, read and sleep, sleep and read.

Working Title: Wide Ride
1st Sentence: Torment.
Favorite Sentence: The more creative, smart and inventive, like Alexander, referred to her as “Wading Pool” or Mattress Pants” or “Rear Admiral Caboose.”
Word Length: 497

Photo by Deva Hoffman here.

Only two more….

28 Apr

Baby AlligatorHow did I get to the count-down of my last 3 shorties? What the hell happened?? As tough as April has been, it’s also disappearing at a record pace. I’m equal parts relieved and unmoored at the thought of finishing my year. Best to put those thoughts aside for now. As for the day’s shorty, my friend Patty is in Houston right now, petting alligators. She sent me an e-mail describing an encounter with a baby alligator who calmed to her warm touch. I know  a good prompt when I see it.

Working Title: Baby Alligator
1st Sentence: No, said my mother, no, Grace isn’t the best name for her.
Favorite Sentence: Like naming an alligator “cupcake,” muttered my husband, or a T-Rex “Prissy.”
Word Length: 336

Photo by Ianaré Sévi.

Umm. Dinner.

27 Apr

SamosasWhen the muse has taken a dislike to you and refuses to come even when you have asked her in your best Virginia honey-dipped voice, pretty, pretty please with peaches on top, then you just say, fine, I’ll make a story out of dinner. We had Indian takeout.

Working Title: David 2.0
1st Sentence: Don’t forget the samosas!
Favorite Sentence: She’d understood that at the time, and before closing the door she’d given him her heavy-lidded, sly-smiling sexy look as an apology.
Word Length: 344

Photo of samosas by Adrião 1/2008.

Running Out

26 Apr

Old Rag RocksUPDATE. I polished this quirky shorty and submitted it to CHEAP POP, who published it October 2016. Many thanks for your love of oddball micros, CP editors!

I really do feel as though I’m out of good ideas, good words. I so badly need a break. I just keep telling myself to push, push, push. The only mountain I ever climbed was Old Rag Mountain in Virginia, a very small mountain that poses no challenge at all for anyone in reasonable health until you get to a tumble of rocks near the summit. These rocks aren’t much of a challenge, either, but you do have to be strong enough to haul yourself up and over a handful of them before you can get the reward of the lovely view at the summit. This last push to the end of my year of stories is really tough but I remind myself that I’m in the rocks, now, I’m in the pretty rocks, and I just have to use a little muscle, and then I’ll be at the top. I had to push long and hard for the day’s shorty, which conformed to the standard April Daily Shorty experience and resisted me for all it was worth. I do see some promise in it for revision but that’s the best I can say for it. On to the next rock.

Working Title: Just Asking
1st Sentence: It was the way he said, “Of course, Sweetie”—heavy on “course,” long on “ie”—that made her wonder.
Favorite Sentence: A faint scar, the length of an eyelash, curled up from the right corner of his upper lip, a capital C for… cute? clever? charismatic?
Word Length: 256

Photo of rocks near the summit of Old Rag Mountain in Virginia, by Madison60 11/2009.

Pirate Story #2

25 Apr

PirateIn June I used the Daily Shorty challenge to play into a running joke that my husband and I have enjoyed for many years. He’ll comment that there just aren’t enough people writing pirate stories or he’ll look at me when I’m writing and say, “I hope you’re writing a pirate story.” He began to indulge in these comments in a big way once I started writing a story every day. “Have you written a pirate story yet? When are you going to write a pirate story? If you would just write pirate stories, this would all be so easy.” So in June I wrote him a pirate story. And it occurred to me as I was struggling to come up with an idea for the day’s shorty, that I should write him one more as the year comes to an end.

Working Title: Origin Story
1st Sentence: They met at a Halloween party over a punch bowl filled with hard cider and apples.
Favorite Sentence: He had been so proud of the hat, of the perfectly rakish angle, the piratical dip and fold of it.
Word Length: 499

Photo of John Baur (“Ol’ Chumbucket”), one of the founders of Talk Like a Pirate Day, 2005.

Goodbye Week 51!

22 Apr

Coconut CakeYep, I have now completed my penultimate week. Almost impossible to comprehend. I’m writing this a couple of days later and I’m still finding it really hard to accept that I have fewer than 10 days left in my challenge. How the hell did that happen? Anyway… it happened! Enjoy this lovely coconut cake with me to celebrate. It’s my birthday cake from a couple of weeks ago and it was DELICIOUS. As for the day’s shorty, it has promise and I enjoyed writing it. So both a big victory and a small victory for the day.

Working Title: Phone Call
1st Sentence: The voice was thin, quavery.
Favorite Sentence: Let’s see, yes, she had been dreaming one of her classic anxiety numbers, the one where she’s in the back seat of a tiny car with her family, her father at the wheel, the car climbing a fragile bridge constructed of a narrow, braided metal track that is headed straight up, for miles, with no structural supports on either side, every inch of progress adding to the terror of being so far up, so vulnerable, so obviously about to slip off the side and tumble down through the clouds and into the ocean below.
Word Length: 404

Photo of a coconut cake from Grant’s Bakery in Lewiston. Happy birthday to me!


20 Apr

Pretty MoonAgain, this is not a month of winners. I hope I will find plenty of good ideas to build on when I come back to my April shorties but unlike all other months of my challenge, I doubt if I’ve produced even one story yet that I could submit in its current form. And I’ve produced only a few drafts that excited me while I was writing them. In all other months I’m fairly certain I produced a couple of those a week, at least, often more. But I choose to be happy right now with small victories. The day’s shorty is not among the few April pieces that excite me but it is tidy, a good exercise in compression, and I don’t hate it. Victory!

Working Title: This Much
1st Sentence: She smiled, leaned into me, and asked, as she always does when I tell her I love her, “How much?”
Favorite Sentence: Lately I’ve been saying, “As much as the moon,” but that’s already old.
Word Length: 350

Photo by Mary Hollinger, NODC biologist, NOAA, 5/1999.

Hard Drive Fodder

19 Apr

Candy ApplesApril has been my most lackluster month so far and I’ve just had to accept that I am (A) running out of whatever steam is necessary to write something brand new and finish it every day, and (B) falling prey to the increasing anxiety I’ve been feeling as the end date approaches—will I make it, is it possible, will I actually do this? Those questions are literally keeping me up at night and it’s not like I’m not already tired enough. Sadly, I’ve had to devote energy to just staying on the path and that’s energy I need for inspiration and focused critical attention to every sentence I write. So these days I am less demanding and I take what I can get. But even with that low standard… well. I wrote a story about a candy apple. Not how I was poisoned by a candy apple or how some old guy made a fortune in candy apples or how a bite of a candy apple brought a Proustian memory to some middle-aged woman but a simple meditation—and that is too elevated a word—on the humble candy apple itself. Why did I do that? Because the universe would give me NOTHING ELSE and I was, when I hammered it out in the wee hours of the morning after a frustrating day of sad nothings, well beyond caring if I ever wrote another intelligent word. What can you do. Perhaps it will entertain the other shorties destined to live out their lives on my hard drive.

Working Title: Candy Apple
1st Sentence: As they wandered the grounds of the fair, she found herself searching for one thing: a candy apple like the ones she’d eaten as a child.
Favorite Sentence: Mostly she wanted that sensation of cracking the shell with her teeth, then scooping out the crisp-white flesh and chewing the soft apple against the crackling, sticky piece of candy.
Word Length: 314

Photo by Constantin Barbu 9/2009.

Impression Piece

16 Apr

Day LillyThis shorty is about my reaction to the Boston Marathon bombings. I tried to capture a bit of what I was feeling. It took me two writing sessions and a handful of starts. One day it might be a strong prose poem.

Working Title: Sanctuary
1st Sentence: Very quiet.
Favorite Sentence: Not just sound but everything is muted by the swaddling of this lovely safety—so plush, so warm—color, too, fades into degrees of shadow because when she’s totally safe her eyelids drop to slit her sight.
Word Length: 201

Photo by John D. from Pasadena, 5/2004. I have no idea why this photo of a day lily is labeled “sanctuary” but it’s lovely, so it works.

Hard Day, Hard Shorty

15 Apr

Incense SmokeI’m writing this story post on Monday, April 22. When I wrote the shorty for April 15, I started it at an afternoon writing session with my friend Patty. I tried three different ideas that afternoon. When I got home I discovered the news of the Boston Marathon bombing and couldn’t focus on work again until very late. When I did, I kept trying new starts until something finally took hold. I think it was 3:00-ish AM by the time I cut out the light, still sad from the day’s news. I suppose because my mind was on other things and the story was so hard to get out of myself, it’s a surprise to me now, reading it. Who wrote that? Anyway, it’s not terrible. With revision, maybe it can be good one day.

Working Title: Cleanse
1st Sentence: What spiraled up with the pungent smoke?
Favorite Sentence: Lord, what did I breathe into my nostrils, and then deep into my lungs, to settle there, to take root, to flower into the space I need for air?
Word Length: 223

Photo by ampersandyslexia 1/2009.

Oh, who knows….

14 Apr

Penguin BedI find myself more than a week behind on story posts again (I’m writing this on April 22). This time I blame the delay on both my own fatigue and the news on April 15, which was the day of the Boston Marathon bombing. Boston feels very close to Maine and I know lots of people who once lived in Boston or the area, who have worked there, who have family there. Most of my friends take frequent day and weekend trips to Boston. And I was just there, in the same part of town where the bombing occurred, a few weeks ago, for the AWP conference. So the news reports felt intimate and I couldn’t turn away from the information and images, nor could I shake a sense of sadness the whole week. I know I’m not alone in that. In any case, I did keep up with my shorties, and I remember that the one I wrote on April 14 came to me without much trouble. The “Oh, who knows” refers to where I got the idea for this story, something I usually note in the Word file but not this time. I don’t know that it will ever be good enough to submit but I did mostly capture my (very small) vision.

Working Title: Just Checking
1st Sentence: Her nightly routine: Snap off the bedside lamp, snuggle into the flannel sheets, let out a long, controlled breath… then jab her husband in the back.
Favorite Sentence: “Indecent” is not a word she had ever held up to the light when talking about herself.
Word Length: 469

I’m often stunned by the serendipity of Wikimedia Commons, where I’ll do a simple search on some word or term connected with the day’s shorty and voila, the perfect (free) photo pops up. It’s happened countless times. I had nothing really catchy to search on for this one but I typed in “going to bed” anyway and what do you know, up comes this adorable picture of a little penguin heading to his burrow. It has nothing to do with the shorty, which is about people going to bed, but I LOVE penguins. Photo by Peter Gaylard, Australia, 3/2010.

Another Dose of Macabre

13 Apr

RosenbergsWhen I wrote a shorty about Anastasia Romanov in March, I remembered that I’d written one about Anne Boleyn in June, and I wondered if I have a subconscious fascination with famous women who died famous and violent deaths. Of course names of women who fit that bill then came to mind, and ghoulish writer that I am—well, and there’s my need for a new story idea every single day—I tucked the names away. That thought adventure led to the April 12th piece on Mata Hari, and now to one about a very different sort of spy, who, from what I understand, very likely wasn’t a spy at all. (Maybe Mata Hari wasn’t either?)

Working Title: Five
1st Sentence: When she was fourteen Marsha announced that her favorite woman in history was Ethel Rosenberg.
Favorite Sentence: And wonders why, guilty or not guilty, Old Ike and Friends felt the need to fry her, this plain dumpling of a woman who had once dreamed, like most teenage girls, of stardom on the stage, but who organized a union instead.
Word Length: 363

Photo of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg (at the courthouse after having been found guilty by a jury) by Roger Higgins, 1951. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection.

Another Ode to Austen

10 Apr

Jane AustenKitty pictures. References to Jane Austen. Yes, I know I’m a cliché. I remember affectionately a shorty I wrote in July that featured members of a Jane Austen club. It has no resemblance whatsoever to the day’s shorty, which is a meditation on the complaint I hear sometimes that Jane painted too pretty a picture of romantic engagement. I’ll just say here that for every happily married heroine waltzing off into the misty bliss, Jane gives us at least one painful marriage portrait, in fact definitely more than one, and a handful of jilted lovers besides.

Working Title: Jane’s Sin
1st Sentence: Oh, Jane.
Favorite Sentence: Darcy and his stiff upper lip, his focus on breeding, his need to be right—this is not the stuff of smolder.
Word Length: 288

Image is a retouched and cropped photo of a portrait of Jane Austen done by her sister Cassandra (1773 – 1845).

Changes Coming

9 Apr

Siberian KittenAfter a week of prompts I’m going without a net again. I’ve been thinking anxiously about how I’ll frame my writing time after this year—what will I use to inspire discipline when I’m not driven by my goal? I’m also currently looking for a house and preparing to adopt two sister kittens to fill the hole my sweet Maria left behind. I suppose all of this led me to write a shorty about a woman entering another phase in her life. The piece has promise.

Working Title: Phase II
1st Sentence: We did the show in front of a live studio audience the entire eleven-year run, from when I was five years old to sixteen.
Favorite Sentence: Sure, as long as I was Cassidy Dunlovey people put up with my thin lips and chubby cheeks, said my mother.
Word Length: 490

Photo of a Siberian kitten by Johanna Fager 1/2007. I’m adopting Siberians because they’re supposed to be very good for people with allergies.

Friendly Prompts, Day 7: Lynn

8 Apr

Lemon SquaresAnd another week of shorties is behind me! Enjoy these gorgeous lemon squares with me as I celebrate seeing the back of Week 49. As for the day’s shorty: I cheered my friend Lynn through a Daily Shorty week in March. She wasn’t able to send me a prompt by the end of my “friendly prompts” week, so before my writing session I thought about her, re-read our e-mail exchanges over the course of that week, and then closed my eyes and started a story. It’s the oddest of the week, I think, which is saying a lot. Can’t tell if it has promise or not, so I’ll wait for clearer eyes to judge that. I’m sorry I didn’t get to use a specific prompt passed along by Lynn herself, but many thanks to her for being a part of my year-long challenge and serving as my unwitting inspiration for the day’s shorty!

Working Title: That Foot
1st Sentence: Janet was always in motion, but she never went anywhere.
Favorite Sentence: The buzz of constant movement came from her right foot, which tapped or kicked or shook or wagged—all day that foot performed the choreography of her mood.
Word Length: 425

Photo by Flickr user fugzu 6/2009.

Friendly Prompts, Day 6: Natalia

7 Apr

Red DoorMy friend Natalia Sarkissian did a Daily Shorty week in early March. She loves writing prompts and sent me a handful. I chose a photo of a red door (similar to the one pictured here) that I couldn’t get out of my head. In fact that red door took up so much of my brain space that it took me many, many tries to get anything on the page that would hold. Finally I was able to get something out before falling asleep in the wee hours. It’s got some promise but I had to force an ending that doesn’t work. Maybe it will grow into something better one day. If the staying-power of that photo is any indication, it will. Many thanks to Natalia!

Working Title: Red
1st Sentence: The audience wants her to choose the red door.
Favorite Sentence: He lets his eyebrows climb his forehead, throws his arms up in a dramatic display of don’t ask me, mugs at the audience and the camera.
Word Length: 308

Photo by Si Griffiths 3/2005.

Friendly Prompts, Day 5: Cheryl

6 Apr

Adonis BookMy friend Cheryl Wilder, whose first writing love is poetry, did a Daily Shorty week with me in February. She provided me with a poem by the Arabic poet Adonis as well as one of her own, which she wrote in response. I read both many times before I wrote the shorty, which is a brief, moody piece that doesn’t quite capture what I’d hoped but might when I come back for revision. Many thanks to Cheryl!

Working Title: From Afar
1st Sentence: Somehow the distance, the filter of the closed window, the scattered light—it all makes for disproportion.
Favorite Sentence: His hands from here like palm fronds, brushing each other and her, shivering in the silent undercurrents of a mom-less kitchen.
Word Length: 270

Photo of Adonis book cover from

Friendly Prompts, Day 4: Suzanne

5 Apr

CrowMy friend Suzanne Farrell Smith did a Daily Shorty week with me in January. The prompt she gave me for this week is a writing exercise, asking me to create a scene focused on an animal of some kind but not a pet or a zoo attraction. I wasn’t allowed to put any human beings in the scene but I could add other animals. My main goal was to follow these directions and somehow write a complete piece rather than just a scene that would be part of a larger whole. I’m not sure how complete the shorty feels but it meets my basic requirements and it was fun to write. Many thanks to Suzanne!

Working Title: Winter Games
1st Sentence: A crow flies from a nearby tree branch toward a steep slope covered in dense, frozen snowpack.
Favorite Sentence: Then it takes a wing-fluttering hop forward, lands about a foot down the slope, and holding its wings at half-span for balance, it wobble-slides down the glistening white on its feet, like a skier who added a little too much peppermint schnapps to his cocoa.
Word Length: 279

Photo by Jack Wolf of Albany, CA, 12/2008.

Friendly Prompts, Day 3: Stephanie

4 Apr

104My friend Stephanie Friedman did a Daily Shorty week with me last fall. She suggested that I choose a piece of art by Chicago artist Jason Brammer as my prompt for the day, and sent me to his site to browse. I chose his piece “Cherry Blossom,” which reminded me of the Maine sky in August, although I’m not sure why. Maybe because the soft beauty of the piece reminds me of how I feel when I’m looking at a Maine August sky. In any case, thoughts of August reminded me of the balloon festival we have here in Lewiston-Auburn the first weekend or so of August, and I was off and running. Many thanks to Stephanie! And of course I’m grateful for Jason Brammer’s stunning work.

Working Title: Balloon Chase
1st Sentence: We spent a couple of hours chasing the hot-air balloons with our cameras.
Favorite Sentence: One landed on the highway, its bubble of rainbow silk deflating, then ribboning out to border the road.
Word Length: 301

Photo by me or the husband, 8/2012.

Sense Week, Day 7

1 Apr

Chocolate Raspberry CupcakesMore treats! I know we just gorged on chocolates, but today we must celebrate the completion of Week 48! For that we indulge in a chocolate cupcake with raspberry icing. YUM. Now on to today’s shorty: I had to randomly select from my collection of small pieces of paper, each labeled with one of the five senses (and a sixth labeled “ESP” for fun), to determine which sense I’d have to repeat for my seventh day. I selected “smell.” As it happens, I wrote the day’s shorty while at a writing session with friends, using the prompt of a sentence randomly selected from a book. Then I revised the story to make the sense of smell factor into the plot in some way. I made it work, so for once my job was done early in the day. Happy April!

Working Title: Steak Dinner
1st Sentence: Fire!
Favorite Sentence: Multiply by 1,000 and that’s what apocalypse smells like.
Word Length: 443

Photo by Flickr user Whitney 2/2010.

Sense Week, Day 6

31 Mar

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEnjoy a trip to the chocolate shop with me to celebrate the close of another month! Yeehaw! I can hardly believe it. Want to make a year fly by? Promise to do some difficult thing every single day of it. While you’re slogging through the day, the week, while you’re looking ahead to how much time you still have to go, you feel like you’re walking through mud up to your hips. But in the big picture, when you glance out the window and notice the days are getting longer (or shorter), when you realize Thanksgiving is just around the corner—or Christmas or Easter—you’ll be shocked at how quickly it all slipped by. As for the day’s shorty, my prompt was the sense of taste. I wrote a non-narrative piece based on the four flavors we can detect plus the taste of “savory-ness” I hear cooks talking about, “umami.” I like the framing but I hope I can make a better piece out of it when I come back for revision.

Working Title: Flavor Profile
1st Sentence: Bitter. Like black coffee, dark chocolate, hoppy beer, grapefruit, like when you break up with your boyfriend after seven long years of “making it work” and not three full weeks later he’s dating someone else and already they’re committed.
Favorite Sentence: Salt is swagger.
Word Length: 315

Photo by frank wouters from antwerpen, belgium, 1/2003.

Sense Week, Day 5

30 Mar

PinocchioThe day’s prompt: smell. Oh, how I wanted to write about the scent of frying bacon or Thanksgiving Day’s roasting turkey, but happy smells wouldn’t take hold and inspire story.

Working Title: Ripe
1st Sentence: When she was eight or nine her great-grandmother, an ancient woman bowed to a right angle by all the troubles she’d brought with her from some very cold, very gray place in Eastern Europe, had cornered Josie in the kitchen and told her that she could smell the lies on her.
Favorite Sentence: The knowledge that she could be sniffed out, even if only by this half-woman-half-spirit, was enough to shake Josie of the lying habit.
Word Length: 353

Photo of illustrations from “Le avventure di Pinocchio, storia di un burattino”, Carlo Collodi, Bemporad & figlio, Firenze 1902 (Drawings and engravings by Carlo Chiostri, and A. Bongini).

Sense Week Day 4

29 Mar

EyeglassesToday’s prompt was sight. Mercifully, the idea and outline of this story came to me almost immediately this morning. Can’t remember the last time a shorty was this easy. Is it good? Oh, now, remember—this project isn’t about being good! Good is for revision.

Working Title: Landscape
1st Sentence: She looks at her feet as she walks to work.
Favorite Sentence: It’s lightly worn leather, desk-job leather, up-and-coming, foreign-film, house-wine, fine-for-autumn leather.
Word Length: 306

Photo of “Harry Potter” glasses by Ultra-lab 11/2011.

Sense Week Day 3

28 Mar

Bronze HandTuesday my prompt was sound, Wednesday it was ESP, and now touch. After trying to woo inspiration several times in the day, a goofy sentence occurred and I went with it. The conventional wisdom says never to begin with a sentence so over-the-top that you have nowhere to go and I almost threw this sentence away for that reason. But I decided to challenge myself to take it seriously and puzzle out why someone would ever be in the position to say such a thing. I did my best to capture a moment in this poor person’s life. And now I will write the single most over-used sentence for, oh, a few years now: It is what it is.

Working Title: Bronze Age
1st Sentence: My question is this: So what if I want to bronze my own hand?
Favorite Sentence: While I sip a cocktail, crush a piece of ice between my teeth, I’ll remember those fingers, now stilled in metal, once trembling over the fluttering heartbeat of a broken bird.
Word Length: 378

Photo © José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro / CC-BY-SA-3.0.


27 Mar

ZodiacToday my prompt was the “6th sense,” ESP. Writing session 1: Nothing, during which actually I did something, which was rejecting lots of stupid ideas and coming up with a couple that might fly but needed mulling. Writing session 2: Almost nothing, then frustrated forcing of SOMETHING. I chose one of the mulled ideas, then wrote a harmless sentence referencing a horoscope. I stared at it for a while, then wrote a few more sentences. Then I called writing session 2 “done.” Writing session 3: Scramble, push, scramble… done. Honestly at this point I think I could teach a workshop on how to write a very short fiction in 3 brief-ish writing sessions. You might not love it but it’ll be complete. And you might love the one you write tomorrow….

Working Title: Horoscope
1st Sentence: My horoscope said that I would remember a friend, today.
Favorite Sentence: Somewhere there is a friend I’m meant to remember in some stray moment of stopped time—because of a flash of sun on a woman’s hair or the shaky tenor of a cubicle-neighbor’s laugh or the slippery surface of the phone in my sweating hand… yes, that’s it.
Word Length: 467

Photo of the zodiac in an illuminated 15th century manuscript.

Another Cat Appears

25 Mar

Jordan AlmondsI’ve admitted somewhere before on this blog that I have a fondness for putting cats in my stories. I think it’s been a while, though, since I have indulged. I like the idea for the day’s shorty, which has a cat front and center, but the execution wasn’t so great. I’ll come back to it. In the meantime, congratulations to me for completing Week 47! I’m a sucker for Easter candy, which always includes for me Jordan almonds. I’ve been eating far too many of them these last few days. Just one more small handful to celebrate another completed week.

Working Title: The Choice
1st Sentence: “Does Tweezle want his mommy? Hmm? His mommy?”
Favorite Sentence: “Silly silly Tweezle-plum-pie,” said Samantha, her body oozing closer.
Word Length: 285

Photo by Alex Kasperavičius 2/2006.

Making the Best of It

24 Mar

RapunzelI grabbed something from the idea file and made it work well enough. I actually kind of like it but this shorty will need some reworking if it’s going to be a keeper. It’s a third recent piece inspired by a traditional fairy tale.

Working Title: Hairy Dreams
1st Sentence: When they bought the old country mansion her father was so hot to rehab, Tammi begged to be allowed to make her bedroom in the little cupola that sat on the roof of the house like a cake decoration.
Favorite Sentence: A girl who lives in a cupola, she reasoned, might one day need to pull a Rapunzel.
Word Length: 404

Photo by Kay Körner.

Back on track!

23 Mar

Sock PuppetEver get fixated on a phrase or an image but you don’t know why and can’t seem to do anything with it? Just let it marinate. When it’s ready to frame a story it will. That’s what happened to me with the day’s shorty, which I like but don’t love. Hopefully I’ll hit gold in revision.

Working Title: Threesome
1st Sentence: Sarah had wanted to meet so she could apologize for using the sock puppet to break up with me.
Favorite Sentence: “We love you, Joe,” said Lemonade, in a high, creaky voice.
Word Length: 229

Photo by Carlb.

A Surprise!

18 Mar

Lava Cake and Ice CreamUPDATE. “Three Things” was published by Mid-American Review, Volume XXXV, Number 1. Many thanks! Not online, but here’s an author interview.

The surprise is that I can do something this late in the challenge, when I’m this tired, that excites me. I produced a droopy, totally uninteresting version of this shorty when I was writing with my friend Patty. I told her that it would count as my day’s shorty if necessary, but I hoped I’d have the energy and inspiration to revise it into something halfway good before lights out. Much to my delight (and shock), I did get interested in the piece later and I reworked it into something I actually kind of love. Patty, many thanks for your encouragement! As for the picture, I had a version of this dessert once at Fore Street in Portland, Maine. The one I ate looked even better and it was, oh, in my top 3 dessert experiences. Congrats to me for completing Week 46!

Working Title: Three Things
1st Sentence: She left three things behind.
Favorite Sentence: Or is this simply a last, whimsical act as Conductor?
Word Length: 327

Photo by Jurema Oliveira 12/2004.

A Disturbing One on St. Pat’s

17 Mar

Green BeerI don’t think there’s a connection between St. Patrick’s Day and the ugly vibe I’ve got going in this story. I don’t know why I sometimes write about the violence men do to women. I guess because I’ll never figure out how so many of us can be so cruel.

Working Title: Sweet Libby
1st Sentence: What is it that makes her impossible to believe?
Favorite Sentence: No, truth never comes from lips like that.
Word Length: (309)

Photo of green beer by SpaceAgeSage, March 17, 2007.

More for the Hard Drive

16 Mar

KittensLook, my hard drive needs friends, too. I’ve produced work at every level during this challenge, including a nice collection of stories that can live peacefully in their hard drive community, never disturbed in any way. The day’s shorty is one of them.

Working Title: He Knew, She Knew
1st Sentence: He knew she was lying.
Favorite Sentence: But if he challenged her she would be forced to admit the deceit and then they would have to look at it, this truth, her need to be rid of him.
Word Length: 389

This is my current go-to picture for cheering up. Thanks to Sudias (7/2008).