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And now a word from Natalia!

10 Apr

reddoorOn April 7 (see my story post further down the page) I used my friend Natalia Sarkissian’s story prompt, a photo of a red door, for inspiration. When I e-mailed Natalia to ask if I could use the image for the blog, she said yes and mentioned that she had used this same prompt before as well. I want to highlight her piece here both because I enjoyed it and because you can see from what I posted of my story that she and I took radically different approaches. That’s one of the joys of a prompt, that it can inspire such different stories. So rather than using her photo in my story post, I’m showing it here, and here is Natalia’s piece. Again, thanks so much my friend!

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.

Friendly Prompts, Day 2: Gwen

3 Apr

Sagrada FamiliaMy friend Gwen Mullins took the Daily Shorty Challenge with me last summer. She sent me this story prompt: “Gaudi’s most famous church, Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, has been under construction for a hundred years. In some photos of the church, the cranes and scaffolding are digitally removed.” I’ll just say right now that I didn’t do this prompt justice, maybe because I was too charmed by it. In any case, the shorty I began to write reminded me of an old story I had begun several years ago, so I went back to that material and used several sentences from it as my foundation. I don’t think it works yet—probably needs to be longer, maybe much longer. But it’s a nice start. Many thanks to Gwen!

Working Title: Revelation
1st Sentence: Ammi and Rebekah were wed under the Holy Babe’s blue eye in the Foundation Church of Sweetwater County.
Favorite Sentence: Again in Papa Barnard’s office in the back of Foundation Church they prayed for understanding, and then Papa leaned forward, elbows digging into his desktop, and asked if there was anything either of them felt the need to confess.
Word Length: 542

Photo by Bernard Gagnon 9/2009. (A note appended to this photo says that cranes were digitally removed.)

Friendly Prompts, Day 1: Paul

2 Apr

TrunkA very nice man named Paul has twice e-mailed me during this journey to encourage me to stay on the path. He’s suggested some story ideas, too, which inspired me to do a week of prompts from friends. I used one of Paul’s ideas for the day’s shorty. Six writer friends have done a Daily Shorty week with me, so for the rest of this week I’ll use prompts offered by each of them. For this shorty, I chose Paul’s suggestion to incorporate some notion of time travel into a story. I played on the idea by having a woman open a trunk her 20-year-old self had packed for her own 60th birthday. I was intrigued by the potential clash of what we consider important at 20 versus 60. I don’t think I did enough with this first draft, but maybe I can make something good of it in revision. Many thanks to Paul!

Working Title: To What End
1st Sentence: Dear Dumbass 20-year-old Me… oh, how to put it?
Favorite Sentence: The second envelope contained an embarrassing, flowery, “What I hope for you” poem-thing that she could only bear to skim after the first few lines.
Word Length: 625

Photo by Lianki 10/2006.

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.

Back to Pulling Teeth

11 Mar

LeavesOh, the heartache of finding this story. Finally pulled it out but left some gaps. I think it’ll be a keeper when I can get back to it, though. This marks my last day of a week of prompts using the Wikimedia Commons picture of the day. These images were very, very good to me.

Working Title: Now Is Too Late
1st Sentence: All these years his complaint has been that she is too orderly, too scheduled.
Favorite Sentence: These wide-eyed writers of such sincere prose seem to think that if we all did yoga a couple of hours a day, if we burnt our daylight meditating on a multisyllabic word of your trendy choice, if we ate nothing but oats, mortality itself could be slain.
Word Length: 480

Photo by Diego Delso 4/2012.

Picture of the Day, Day 6

10 Mar

Lisbon BridgeIt took a long time for this one to arrive but once it did, it wrote itself. So, another gift in a tough week. I can’t tell how good this shorty is but I like it because I played with allusions to the old fairy tales about trolls guarding bridges. Inspired, of course, by the Wikimedia Commons picture of the day posted here.

Working Title: On the Other Side
1st Sentence: All of it, all of it—the years of crunching numbers and running out of staples and replacing toner and unjamming the copier.
Favorite Sentence: He stands before me, his legs in a wide, martial stance, his white face smooth as river stone, that slender red smile twitching at the corner.
Word Length: 526

Photo of Vasco da Gama Bridge in Lisbon, Portugal, by F Mira (1/2009).

Picture of the Day, Day 5

9 Mar

MacawThis one came to me very easily, which felt like such a gift in a very, very tired week. It’s odd and maybe a shorty only I can love, but love it I do. Love, too, this Wikimedia Commons picture of the day that inspired it.

Working Title: Bird Story
1st Sentence: Everyone has a wounded bird story.
Favorite Sentence: A ragged crow with a mangled leg, clinging to a branch of the tree behind the house, cawing, its red eyes blazing.
Word Length: 428

Photo by Luc Viatour / 7/2009.

Picture of the Day, Day 4

8 Mar

Space ShuttleSo this is the fourth time I’ve traveled during the DS challenge. I left Wednesday first thing for Boston, where AWP is holding its annual conference. I’d forgotten how hard it is to be in a different place and keep up with my story-a-day promise. Ergh. Anyway, if I can figure out what this piece is missing, maybe I’ll make some progress on how to write good stories that are fewer than 250 words. The shorty is almost good but… isn’t. And I have absolutely no idea how I got from this Wikimedia Commons picture of the day to a short story that has nothing whatsoever to do with space, science, NASA…?

Working Title: Closet Habit
1st Sentence: When he was eleven, his mother found him in a coat closet, where he had retreated after a fight with his older brother.
Favorite Sentence: He didn’t mind being discovered sitting in a puddle of shoes in an armoire in his freshman dorm room because he got a few instant friends for being bizarre, and everyone else circled wide around him because they’d heard he was a nutjob.
Word Length: 207

Photo of a silhouette of the space shuttle Endeavour by NASA/crew of Expedition 22 (2/2010).

Picture of the Day, Day 3

7 Mar

Lighthouse EstoniaI’m always hesitant to say that I’ve learned any particular thing with regard to writing because I never know how the ground will shift tomorrow. But I think I can say that I have taught myself how to write very short. Not teeny-tiny, mind you—I don’t know that I will ever be able to write good pieces that are, say, 250 words or fewer. That is a feat I can barely comprehend. But I have now written a fat handful of pieces under 500 words that I like a lot. Given that I couldn’t do that at all before this challenge, I feel pretty excited. The shorty this picture of the day at Wikimedia Commons inspired is one of these very short pieces I like.

Working Title: Mountains
1st Sentence: For almost a year I’d been teaching at a school built into a bowl of land between two mountains.
Favorite Sentence: On a day when I wasn’t just wincing but dizzy, if I caught myself wanting to fling my body at all that hardness, to beat my fists on it, then I would plan an escape.
Word Length: 360

Photo of a lighthouse on the islet of Keri in Estonia by Andrus Uuetalu 5/2008.

Picture of the Day, Day 2

6 Mar

Russian PalaceThis photo of a Russian palace, the picture of the day at Wikimedia Commons, inspired thoughts of Anastasia, the Romanov princess at one time rumored to have escaped the massacre of her family.

Working Title: Anastasia
1st Sentence: If she had not been the sort of princess who, as a child, liked to trip her servants, would she be here now?
Favorite Sentence: Do you imagine, broken bird, that you brought Mother Russia to her knees because once, in a princess temper, you put your foot out, caught a ratty shoe?
Word Length: 349

Photo of the Church of the Grand Peterhof Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia, by Aleks G (10/2011).

A Week of “Picture of the Day”!

5 Mar

ButterfliesMy first sustained period of mental fatigue hit hard in August. I beat it back by using various kinds of story prompts for a while. Then I fell into the habit of a week of prompts, a week of no prompts, followed by a period of anything goes. I was feeling so exhausted as March began (I’m writing this catch-up post on March 19) that I reached again for prompts as a solution. My DS weeks begin on Tuesdays, so on March 5 I started a week using the “picture of the day” at Wikimedia Commons as my prompt each day. I have unreasonable affection for the story I wrote in response to this photo, partly because I was able to keep it so short but mainly because I worked in a (well, rather obvious) homage to the Ray Bradbury classic, “A Sound of Thunder.” (The insect is identified in the photo credit as a moth but I saw it as a butterfly, which is why I thought of Bradbury’s story.)

Working Title: Thunder
1st Sentence: She’d felt something brushing her forearm and because it was July and a cascade of insects greeted her whenever she left the house, she was conditioned to think mosquito or bee or gnat.
Favorite Sentence: After another moment of staring, she snapped a leaf from one of the maples that lined the path, and scraped the ruined butterfly from her arm.
Word Length: 266

Photo of the Madagascan sunset moth, two views of the same specimen, by Didier Descouens (2/2013).

More Poems Day 6

3 Feb

HailThis one didn’t come easy but it finally landed. A strange one with some potential when I go back for revision. Inspired by February 3rd’s poem at Poetry Daily, “My Knife,” by Dennis Hinrichsen, from Rip-Tooth, published by University of Tampa Press. First four lines as teaser: I keep a little Lear in my back jeans pocket / a little sorrow / like a doll or jackknife / to slice away at storms

Working Title: Hail Storm
1st Sentence: None of us had ever seen hail before.
Favorite Sentence: The laughs were rude, they sounded like barking, they split the air and felt wrong, wrong.
Word Length: 338

Photo by Mat Fascione 3/2008.

An easy one!

2 Feb

HawkOh thank goodness. I can’t remember the last time I got a gift shorty. I did have to spend some time thinking about the prompt poem I got from Poetry Daily, “Hawk” by Nick Norwood, from Gravel and Hawk at Ohio University Press, but then my mind started associating this to this to this until I stumbled on something that took hold and it was a joy to write. First four lines of the poem as a teaser: Lost in the woods with an air rifle, / a boy supposed to be after birds, / amazed by vines and wintering trees, / resigned, I fired my chambered pellet

Working Title: Last Night
1st Sentence: Last night I grieved for you.
Favorite Sentence: Last night I held your heart in my hand while I killed you, over and over, all the while rubbing my cheek against the bark of the redwood trees we will not see together, hearing the rush of Italian or French I will puzzle through without you, brushing from my hair the Maui sand that you will never feel.
Word Length: 716

Photo by Dori 1/2008.

An Odd Start

1 Feb

White BirdsToday’s prompt poem from Poetry Daily is “Five White Birds,” from LSUP’s Under the Pergola by Catharine Savage Brosman. With this shorty I got myself into a situation I had neither the time nor the brain power to get out of, nor did I have time to scrap the story and try to develop something else. So I spun for a bit and then wound out to an ending. The result is a shorty that is not just strange but, sad to say, pointless. I’ll go back to the idea for this one and the initial situation. I just need time to determine what should happen. Next! The first four lines of the poem as a teaser: Having seared the sky, the sun—a brazier—
 / smolders through the crumbling clouds / upriver; to the east, rich mounds of smoky / vapors, signifying rain tomorrow, drift on.

Working Title: Twizzler Pentimento
1st Sentence: I reported to her office at exactly 3:00 pm, as requested.
Favorite Sentence: She opened a pack herself, peeled off a strip of candy, and began to gnaw on it, looking at me with eyes narrowed.
Word Length: 1,106

Photo by Angela K. Kepler.

Out with a Whimper

31 Jan

NougatI finally enjoyed two days of a little spark yesterday and the day before but today, sadly… no spark. I hope I have a really good week soon to make up for these late doldrums but who knows, maybe 9 months is the outer limit of how long I can write something every day and mine a little gold here and there. In any case, congratulations to me for completing my 9th month today! The treat in the picture is “artisanal nougat,” which looks like that Torrone candy I love to get at Christmas. I think a hunk like that is sufficient for celebrating another month. Excuse me while I don my dinner napkin. The day’s lackluster shorty was inspired by the lovely poem “Forecast” by Karin Gottshall, published at Crazyhorse Fall 2012. I found it at Poetry Daily. Here’s the first stanza as a teaser: I remember, before the snow started, / thinking I wish it would start. The sky darkened

Working Title: Snow Sculpture
1st Sentence: For going on five years, now, she would sculpt only with snow and only outdoors.
Favorite Sentence: She lumped, piled, packed, and patted into place a vision as it rose before her.
Word Length: 448

Photo by nonolilli 8/2012.

Poetry Day 2

30 Jan

The Iowa Review CoverThat’s more like it. Another shorty that doesn’t sing but it’s got potential, it’s about something real. After days of lackluster word-pushing, that’s what I need right now, a few pieces that remind me of why I write. Today’s piece was inspired by “Rapprochement” by Geoffrey Nutter, published by The Iowa Review, Winter 2012/13 (pictured here). I found the poem at Poetry Daily. Your teaser in four lines: I awoke as from a dream. And I rose / near dawn, boiled and drank the blood-colored tea / sweetened with berries and wild honey, / and started to compose a lengthy list

Working Title: Fantasy Dining
1st Sentence: Scott said that he would love to do pizza and beer with Benjamin Franklin and find out once and for all if the electricity stunt with the key was made up.
Favorite Sentence: I want to have a meal with the sixteen-year-old you, when you had that teenage mix of stupid and whip-smart, when you weren’t scared, yet, of putting your hands out to feel the shapes of things, to blurt anything on your mind.
Word Length: 605

The Iowa Review (Winter 2102/13) cover photo from

New Lease on Life + Poetry

29 Jan

HandThere is one good thing about the flu (and it’s certainly not worth it): Once on the road to recovery, everything you eat and drink is delicious, and everything you do is exciting because it’s so easy. Yesterday I straightened up the kitchen and felt incredibly happy that I had the energy to do it. I wanted to wash that dish—and I did! The day’s shorty isn’t great but it has a bit of spark and that’s enough for me right now. I’m going back to prompts this week and will be using the site Poetry Daily again for my inspiration. The day’s inspiration poem is Dispatch Detailing Rust, by Adrian C. Louis, published in New Letters, Volume 79, No. 1. The first four lines as a teaser: I was merely on / the cusp of growing / old when I shook / his hand, my enemy’s

Working Title: Art
1st Sentence: She lifted her hands and squinted into the light.
Favorite Sentence: A little lingo-lasso, and we’ll rustle ourselves a better profile.
Word Length: 316

Photo by Striatic 7/2009.

More Paintings Last Day!

21 Jan

Raspberry tartThis raspberry tart looks almost unbearably wonderful. Faced with a shelf of those things I would eat them for every meal until they were gone, I think. Dream with me. And applause, applause for the completion of Week 38! On my last day of this week I used Leslie Anderson’s “Stonington Street” to spark my shorty. Maine writers, see the Summer Stories Short Story Competition put together by the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance and Shanti Arts Publishing for details on submitting short stories inspired by Anderson’s paintings (deadline March 1). This was a tough week, mainly because I seem unable to recover a fairly normal level of energy since the dive I took this fall when I was working really hard on some editorial work. Today was particularly tough but I got it done. Despite the difficulty of the week, it was a pure delight to spend another 7 days with Laurie Anderson’s paintings.

Working Title: Blue
1st Sentence: Today in January I yearn for August blue.
Favorite Sentence: But no, my nails are pliant, thin, inherited from a victim of consumption in a flowing white nightgown or a failed prince in girlish shoes murdered in his sleep.
Word Length: 374

Photo by Flickr user Selena N. B. H. 5/2008.

More Paintings Day 6

20 Jan

WestieComing to the end of my second week of stories prompted by Leslie Anderson paintings—just one more after this one. See the Summer Stories Short Story Competition put together by the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance and Shanti Arts Publishing for details on the March 1 deadline if you’re a Maine writer and you want to play. The day’s shorty was inspired by Anderson’s “Semaphore.” I had a lot of hope for this one but the execution wasn’t so great. On to the next.

Working Title: Talking Coffee Cup
1st Sentence: For a while they spoke only in Coffee Cup.
Favorite Sentence: The Westie talk was a boost to Veronica’s weeks of slinging cups of the same over-cooked, over-sugared crap, over and over in all its multisyllabic forms, while she worried about the next test at her night class.
Word Length: 1,035

Photo by Christopher Walker, Krakow, Poland, 11/2006.

More Paintings Day 5

19 Jan

Imaginary iUPDATE. “Imaginary i‘ was one of the winning entries, along with “Vanilla,” drafted here on 1/17, and “Reflections” 10/17. Many thanks to Leslie Anderson for her beautiful paintings, to MWPA and Shanti Arts for sponsoring the contest, to judge Ron Currie, Jr. for selecting my shorties, and again to Shanti Arts for publishing such a beautiful book.

Selected Leslie Anderson’s “Pulling Weeds” as the prompt for today’s shorty. Maine writers, see the Summer Stories Short Story Competition put together by the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance and Shanti Arts Publishing for details on the March 1 deadline. Many false starts before landing on the day’s draft but finally pulled it together.

Working Title: Imaginary i
1st Sentence: For the school carnival that Halloween before she graduated, she had dressed as imaginary i.
Favorite Sentence: He’d wanted to keep ladling them into her open mouth, see which she swallowed, which ran down the sides of her face.
Word Length: 826

Image by Allison and Valerie 4/2011.

More Paintings Day 4

18 Jan

Red CabooseUsing the Summer Stories Short Story Competition put together by the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance and Shanti Arts Publishing as a source for prompts this week. Maine writers are invited to write and submit (by March 1) short stories inspired by a series of paintings by Maine artist Leslie Anderson. The day’s shorty was inspired by Anderson’s “Narrow Gauge.”

Working Title: The Conductor
1st Sentence: The red caboose was not, as everyone around him thought, Jeffrey’s favorite toy.
Favorite Sentence: When the babysitter thinks he’s nuzzling, even kissing the red caboose—ohmygod so adorable—he is, in fact, whispering instructions.
Word Length: 900

Photo by Ktb615 5/2010.