Gullie made me do it.

Below you will find a page of fiction text.  Your task is to copy it into a Word document and then print it out so it’s all on one page.  Lay the page in front of you.  Grab a pen and close your eyes.  Let the pen fall onto the page.  Circle the sentence that contains the word your pen has stabbed.  Write about that sentence.  Feel free to construct a story, rant, dissect, rearrange, or perhaps come up with a poem using that one sentence.  It need not have anything to do with the characters or situation on the original page. 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

Randolph snapped his fingers for a servant who loosened and removed the corselet.  His big head looked down at her, his blue eyes not moving about her face to examine it, but remaining fixed, his thoughts trapped elsewhere, impaled on memories.  He shuddered slightly, as if buffeted by blows from an invisible hand.

     Esmeralda waited, frozen to her small patch of ground, ignoring the men around her, and praying for a sign that might mean deliverance.  Long silence filled the air in the hall like the echo of a message that has drifted away.

     “Attend me in my chambers.”  Randolph turned and walked stiffly to the door that led to his south tower.

     Esmeralda’s muscles let go of their cold tenseness.  New warmth rushed through her body.  She wanted to run after him like a boisterous child.  Instead she took a long breath and let it out before following his retreating shape.  Her heart outpaced the measured rhythm of her feet on the stairs.

     The heavy doors to his suite lay ajar, and she took that as a sign she might enter.  She had never been allowed inside the rooms of the castle’s oldest tower.  She gazed shyly around.

     A fire had recently been lit in the wide hearth.  The smaller tinder and branches burned and crackled, sending a roaring blaze up around the larger logs.  A row of shuttered windows curved above the bare stones of the floor.  The royal bed looked cold and hard with its deep red spread.

     She looked about, hoping to gain warmth from her father’s personal possessions, but none lay about for her to pick up or caress.  The room was empty of life’s clutter.

     Randolph emerged from a curtained doorway wearing a draped robe of black, belted at the waist, and trimmed with a thin band of silver.  He barely glanced at her when he walked over to the fireplace.

     Esmeralda waited, barely breathing, hands clasped demurely in front of her, head down.  She had never seen him without battle garb or ceremonial dress.  In his soft robe, without crown or helmet, he seemed more human, less of the exalted person of the king.  Heavy creases ringed his eyes; three vertical lines marked his forehead between the brows; whisker stubble shadowed his jaw.

     He waved her toward the fireplace and held his hands out toward the blaze, warming them, speaking with his back to her.  “Tell me what you want.”  His voice held no friendly edge, no invitation.

     She shut her eyes and absorbed the pain of his battering tone.  This was the scene she’d imagined hundreds of times.  She must take her chance no matter what the cost.

101 responses to “Gullie made me do it.

  1. Gully happily accepts any and all credit or blame that may or may not rightfully accrue to her.

  2. One Afternoon

    This is surreal, Jeanne thought. Things don’t happen this way this in real life. She knew she wasn’t in denial. The doctor told her in no uncertain terms her mother way dying, had already died, if fact. The EMTs brought her back. Then she’d had a massive stroke.

    “If you want to see her,” he said, “come right away.” She put another shirt in her husband’s suitcase and zipped it closed.

    “Ready to go?” asked her husband, picking up both pieces of luggage. Jeanne nodded, slipped into her winter jacket, and followed Ken to the car. The hundred mile drive to the airport gave Jeanne lots of time to think about what had happened. She began with her cousin Don’s call, the one that came first.

    His mother Elsie, Don said, had died in Detroit. He was flying east from San Francisco to tend to matters. Then, Myrtle’s daughter Bonnie in Eugene, Oregon, called. Jeanne’s mother Alice was in the hospital and not expected to live. Aunt Elsa had died at the exact time her of mother’s emergency call. Once again Jeanne thought of the sisters’ old-fashioned names: Myrtle, Elsa, and Agnes. Now Alice was the only one left, and she was in critical condition.

    Jeanne and Ken found Alice in the critical care unit, hooked up to machines that were breathing for her, draining her of waste fluids, hydrating and feeding her, and monitoring everything her heart and body did. Jeanne approached the bed cautiously. Suddenly a nurse entered the room.

    “You can talk to her,” said the nurse. “She’s all there. One hand squeeze for yes, two for no.”

    “Mom?” said Jeanne. “It’s me, Jeanne. Ken is here. Jim and Karen and our Karen are coming, too.” She felt a squeeze. How can she be all there, she wondered. The doctor said the damage was massive. She did not mention that her remaining sister Else had died.

    Shortly after he and his wife arrived from Virgina, Jim took his mother’s hand and told her that she had suffered a massive stroke. He explained her brain would continue to swell, causing even more damage. And then he asked he the question.

    That evening their sister Karen from South Carolina and Jim and his wife were in a restaurant for dinner. “I’m sure,” said Jim. “She squeezed my hand a bunch of times. I’m sure she understood.” There was little conversation after that, even though the siblings saw each other infrequently. There was even less eating.

    The next morning they gathered in a small conference room at the hospital. The doctor summed up, and said that if she somehow lived she would never walk again but be confined to a wheelchair. She had left a will, but no living will. Yet, all three siblings knew their mother’s feelings about doctors and hospitals.

    Jim spoke to the doctor. “We talked about this last night,” he said. “She would not want to live like this.” With that, the decision to remove their mother from life support was made. The doctor said it would be done sometime that day, and suggested the family go get some rest. They would call if things changed.

    The next morning they visited the hospital again. Their mother had been moved to another unit to die. She was breathing on her own, but barely. Three tortured breaths a minute was the best she could do. Jeanne fled to the waiting room, while the others stayed near the dying woman for a while.

    Then they went to their mother’s ground floor apartment. It was empty of life’s clutter, and smelled strongly of cigarette smoke, the main reason they had opted for hotel rooms rather than stay there. Only the necessities of daily life were there, and some sewing supplies for her hobby. Even her clothes closet seems to have been pared down. In the spare bedroom, a filing cabinet held the important papers, all meticulously in order and labeled. In the closet, gifts the siblings had sent for recent birthdays and Christmases and Mother’s days were unwrapped but still in their original boxes. A couple other boxes held the numerous photographs and slides she had taken throughout her life. They began sorting, boxing, and cleaning. The telephone rang.

    “Your mother died shortly after you left the hospital,” said the spokesman. Jody looked at the clock on the wall. It was 1 p.m., the time Aunt Elsa’s funeral service was to begin in Detroit. Again she thought about the irony.

    On the dining room table were receipts for recent grocery purchases. Jeanne scanned the receipts to see if they were important. They revealed purchases for groceries, a couple cleaning supplies, and cigarettes. She handed them to Jim. “Do you realize,” he asked after looking them over, “how many packages of cigarettes she bought in just a few days?’ Jeanne nodded.

    Ken returned with a U-Haul truck, and he and Jim loaded furniture and a few boxes of things and bags of clothing for donations, but the truck was mostly empty. Cousin Bonnie, who had looked after their mother for several years, was given all the furniture and clothing to do with as she thought best

    By later afternoon, the apartment was emptied and cleaned. Just before they closed the door one last time, Ken looked around the living room.

    “Sad,” he said, “how a person’s life can be erased in an afternoon.”

  3. I see I made at least one error, even though I proofread this thing four times. The Jeanne character was originally Jody, and I missed an instance when I changed it.

  4. Sorry, my sentence was: The room was empty of life’s clutter. I had boldfaced it, but it didn’t translate.

  5. Good job Gully. Here’s my attempt. My sentence is the first sentence in quotes. May not be suitable for all audiences.

    “Randolph emerged from a curtained doorway wearing a draped robe of black, belted at the waist, and trimmed with a thin band of silver.” Being the first dancer at “Girls Night Out”, Randolph knew the tips on this session would be light, not enough booze in them to be free with their money. So with the black robe hanging off one shoulder, he started his slow erotic dance. He was spinning on the pole in the middle of the stage when a glimse of a woman caught his eye. He spun around again and noticed it was Mrs. Brille, his six grade teacher. She was watching him with two other women at a table just off to the right of the stage. Mrs. Brille’s arms were locked across her chest and her expression made him think he’d just been caught chewing gum.

    Randolph slowly untied his robe and let it fall to the stage. The crowd started hooping and hollering all the usual sexist comments. The tips started rolling in faster than he had hoped for and soon his G-string was full of dollar bills. He spun around the pole one more time when Mrs. Brille caught his eye again. She stood up and walked to the stage. She pointed at him and motioned for him to come to her. Randolph walked over and Mrs. Brille shoved a twenty into the front of his G-string.

    As luck would have it, his music stopped and he had to leave the stage. As he walked off, he saw Mrs. Brille laughing it up with her girl friends. She stopped a waiter and gave him a slip of paper. The waiter looked toward Randolph and laughed. He said something else and one of Mrs. Brille’s friend gave him a tip if he’d deliever the message. Randoph’s blood turned cold as he took the paper in his hand. He slowly opened it up and it read:

    “Dear Randolph, I see that you have grown into a fine young man. I hope you would consider a request from your former teacher. My friends and I will give you a hundred dollars each for a private lap dance. If this establishment is not equipped for such a venue, we can make other arrangements in your “off” hours.”

    And that is how Randolph became the teacher’s pet.

  6. BWW newbie Oct-Dec 09

    Expectation ran high, as the glitzy dressed patrons waited outside the door of the neighborhood restaurant at its grand re-opening. Windows, surrounded in flickering holiday lights, added to the festive atmosphere. Inside, a fire had been recently lit in the wide hearth of the fireplace at the corner of the dining room. A regally decorated Christmas tree glittered in the other corner.

    Jessie’s usual calm nerves were close to their snapping point. She swiped at a loose lock of curly blond hair that had escaped from a diamond clip, pushing it behind her ear. “Are we ready?” she asked her gathered staff. Their resounding chorus of “yes” helped to steady her as she walked toward the door, looking sideways at the dining tables set in fine china and crystal.

    Here we go, she thought. Memories tumbled around in her head of the last time this restaurant had opened. She had been there too, but it had been her mother at the helm then. Had it only been five years ago? Could she repeat its success?

    Her mother’s unsolved murder at this restaurant two years ago had left a hole in Jessie’s heart and life. This restaurant had been her mother’s dream and they had been a team, working more than full time to make it a success. James, her mother’s latest husband, had been the primary suspect, but never charged with the murder. She despised the man; he had not been good to her mother. Jessie had felt devastated. She had closed the restaurant, and moved away. It took her almost two years to realize this was where she was meant to be.

    Jessie touched the diamond clip in her hair. It had been her mothers, and tonight it would be her good luck charm.

    Friends and strangers greeted her at the door. She seated excited customers, table by table, until the restaurant was full. Her wait staff, some previous employees returning to help, efficiently handled the orders. The kitchen staff, cheered each other on, as they outdid themselves in preparation and presentation. Jessie’s smile never wavered as she received congratulations and accolades on her successful and welcome re-opening.

    Half-way through the evening, Jessie turned towards the door as a new customer entered. The noise level in the restaurant went silent, and Jessie’s smile disappeared, as James stood at the door. She walked stiffly to meet him. “What are you doing here?”

  7. BWW newbie Oct-Dec 09

    My sentence was:
    A fire had recently been lit in the wide hearth.

  8. These are all great! I may do one myself, since you’re all inspiring me. Love the sense of freedom you all have to take your sentence wherever it (and you) want to go.

    More! More!

    Hey, Newbie. What was your nickname in BWW? Just curious….

  9. Hi Ann
    I am Linda from this last class. My focus was to be childrens books and still plan to take the childrens writing class starting 1/20, but I am enjoying writing this type of fiction also.

  10. The small tinder and branches burned and crackled, sending a roaring blaze up around the larger logs. Carmen was startled awake but quickly sank back into the comfort of the oversize davenport. She’d been waiting for two hours for the telephone to ring. Marlon had promised the previous weekend that he’d call her at 8:00 that evening.

    Marlon worked out of town often and this week he was staying in a hotel rather than risk driving back and forth on the snowy roads in Wisconsin. Carmen was brimming with excitement this particular day and desperately needed to talk to Marlon. She’d told him that she had an appointment today and he’d seemed eager to get the news as soon as possible.

    The weight of her heavy heart seemed to sink her deeper into the cushions. At the very moment she gave up hope, the Christmas bell on the door jingled merrily. Carmen with her heart pounding tossed her fleece blanket on the floor and rushed toward her husband. Her face was flushed when Marlon searched it for a clue.

    “I’m sorry to keep you waiting. I reached for the phone to call you around 8:00 and couldn’t bear the thought of not being with you. I jumped in the car and here I am.”

    Tears of joy streamed down Carmen’s rosy cheeks. Extreme happiness was always accompanied by tears in Carmen’s world. Without a word from her, Marlon knew their lives would never be the same again. He picked her up and they twirled around. “I’m the luckiest man in the world. This is going to be the best Christmas yet.”

    “I love you so much. I mean ‘we’ love you so much,” Carmen struggled to speak as her emotions overflowed.

    Marlon carried her to the sofa and they settled side by side before the fireplace. With arms around each other, they let the joy they were feeling flow around them.

    Dreams of a tiny baby filled their thoughts. Once again, the small tinder and branches burned and crackled, sending a roaring blaze up around the larger logs.

  11. Hey, friends!

    I BELIEVE (I know, that’s SO last goofing around!)

    I believe it’s been forever and a day since I’ve commented (but I have been checking in on y’all).

    I also believe I’m lucky to have found this group of fun, encouraging, and talented writers.

    I believe I missed you.

  12. Shaddy? maybe romance is your genre? Walk? Get thee back to Sunday school. Newbie? Welcome, welcome. You’re a force to be reckoned with. Zelda? Where ya bee?.

    By the way, my story is true.

  13. Ok, I’m the newbie, remember. Shaddy -How was James involved before? Walk -you stole the start of the second chapter! DS – thank you. Any way I can get some history on y’all, or will it just come with time? I did look at Gullie’s awesome blog. Thanks for the warm welcome.

    • James was the primary suspect in Jessie’s mother’s murder. That’s what triggered me to comment as I did.

      Unfortunately, in time you’ll learn more about all of us than you want to know!!

  14. Something weird is going on here. Comments don’t show up in chronological order. That’s why, Shaddy, I hadn’t seen your remark that assumed my story was nonfiction.

  15. Shaddy
    OK – thought maybe he had another life from a different story set, kinda like Martha and John.

  16. “Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house,
    I was the only one stirring, clicking my mouse.

    A rough draft was saved on a thumb drive with care
    In the hope when I wanted, it would be there.

    My muse was all hyper, running ‘round in my head,
    But my eyelids were sagging, and hoping for bed.

    Pablo was nestled down snug in his cage,
    While I was upstairs, writing page after page.

    When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
    I jumped from my chair, wondering what was the matter.

    Away from my keyboard I stumbled in haste,
    In the middle of select all, copy, and paste.

    The moon on the snow piled up on my deck,
    Shown the luster of day on an upside-down wreck.

    When, what to my sleep-deprived eyes should appear
    But an enormous book bag and eight tiny reindeer.

    With a sprightly young driver so lively and quick,
    I knew in a moment it must be St. Edit.

    More rapid than dial-up her proof-readers came,
    And she whistled, and shouted, and called then by name:

    Now, Metaphor! Now, Allegory! Now, Soap Opera!
    On, Romance! On, Western On, Non-Fiction Memoir!

    To the top of the sales! to the top of the list!
    Now run-away Best Seller, and Movie Dramatist!

    As deleted pages to the carpet do fly.
    When they met with an agent, mount to the sky,

    So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
    With the bag full of books, and St. Editor, too.

    And then, in a twinkling I heard on the roof
    St. Editor texting part of my proof.

    As I drew in my head and was turning around,
    Down the chimney St. Editor came with a bound.

    She was burdened with books, from her head to her toes,
    Instructions on writing, all writ by the pros.

    There was Lamott with her Bird, and Goldberg with Bones,
    Keyes with his Courage, and… Grammar for Dummies?

    Her eyes—how they twinkled! Her dimples—how merry!
    When, out of the bag fell a huge dictionary!

    She spoke not a word, but went straight to her deed,
    Leaving a muse for each writer with need.

    Then she gave me a ribbon with a Medal of Valor
    For me to give to one extra-ordinaire.

    “This is for Ann, who leaves writing prompts,
    And read all your final five hundred word romps.”

    I stood there in tears as she flew up the chimney,
    Thinking how special Ann was to me,

    And all of the others who’d set their words free,
    ‘Cause Ann gave them courage to write and to see

    If they believed in themselves, as Ann had once said,
    A trusty old muse would appear in their head

    And lead them down lanes they’d not been before,
    Teach them to write and with words to explore,

    The truth and the beauty that comes with the chance
    That others will say, “My life you enhance.”

    But I heard her exclaim , ere she drove out of sight,
    “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-write!”

    • Bravo, Gully, Bravo

    • Awesome, Gully! I take off my hat to you, you know, the hat I’m wearing in my last blog post. Thus, here I stand with hair all pressed down but with my heart full and rising.

      Your words tell of thoughts in my own mind, feelings in my heart and the joy in my soul. I owe you for taking the time and putting it all down.

    • There are simply not enough adjectives in my bag or words to describe how completely wonderful this is! CLAP!CLAP!CLAP! and not the wimpy little golf kind of clap either, but the loud verbose palm stinging kind that leaves your hands red for the next thirty minutes.
      Merry Christmas Gully!

    • Oh, Gully, this poem is absolutely fabulous! I’m just now checking in to Ann’s site after a breather to travel and bake cookies and such, and I am laughing out loud at my desk!!

      Once I stop laughing I’m gonna do the CLAP CLAP CLAP along with DS.

  17. What fun! I am in total awe!

  18. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to my friends,

    And all others who frequent this site.

  19. Merry Christmas everyone!

  20. Merry Christmas to all you wonderful writers. I enjoy everything you post here, even though I am often so invisible. Gullie, I read your Christmas poem to my whole family and got all teary-eyed doing so. They were all quite impressed with you! (“She lives in Alaska? Wow!”)

    On a different subject (and excuse my ignorance) but what happens to the NaNoMo novels? Do they get judged? Did anybody win something? Is anyone going to fine tune their book and go for publication?

    Ditto Walk’s comment on our shared New Year of writing. Who knows what we’ll all create?

    • I’m going over my novel at a snail’s pace. I e-mail a chapter at a time to my aunt and uncle who are my greatest fans. Who knows, maybe I’ll eventually try to get it published. First I have to convince myself that it’s worth the effort.

      As far as winning anything, I won a badge for my blog that says I’m a NaNoWriMo winner. If you want to see it, check out my blog. It’s along the left hand edge. I’m still trying to convince myself that it’s beautiful enough to have spent an entire month of writing to gain it. (Just kidding. I knew before I started writing that the reward would be knowing I could discipline myself to write that much in one month).

      Thank you for your interest.

      • After we submit our novels to NaNoWriMo for a word-count verification, they are deleted. It’s up to us to handle our creations after that.

    • I also finished and received my badge, which is proudly sported somewhere on my webpage.

      I’m going to begin editing and rewriting in February. As we all know editing is my weakness, so I’ll be taking a refresher before then.

      I think it is pretty good. Maybe even good enough to send out some queries – at least compared to the novel I wrote last year.

  21. The idea for that above came while I was driving home from Seward yesterday with the ingredients for rum ball cookies nestled in my reusable grocery bags. I was patting myself on the bag because I’d actually remembered to take them into the store, rather than leave them in the vehicle as usual. The rum balls are for a friend in Tacoma, one whose life has been in the pits lately, and said she’ll pass on whiskey sours (see my post at my blog about why I quit cooking), and was much in need of rum balls instead. Thank goodness for Express Mail. I’m off to the post office in a minute with a canister full of rum balls for a friend in need.

    The first thoughts were to use punctuation to give you my Christmas wishes–something like “may your parentheses hug you…, commas lead you on to more words, periods mark not an ending but a beginning…” and so on.

    Instead, the whole thing morphed into the above. But, there’s still something there in those bits of punctuation. Anyone was to tinker with that and see what pops up?

  22. Freudian slip: “patting myself on the bag.” It wasn’t intentional, I promise.

  23. Merry Christmas All! Sorry I haven’t been around much. I’ve been working on a couple of essays and busy with preparations for guests both today and tomorrow. Your postings are all fantastic! I loved your Night Before Christmas poem, Gully. And welcome to Newbie. I’m looking forward to reading more of your work.

    Stay well and travel safely for those of you who will be out and about. We’re scaping a thick layer of ice off everything this morning. Hope it’s better where you are.


  24. Temperatures above freezing all week have made a giant ice rink here, melting much of our three feet of snow.

  25. 2009

    Hey, Y’All!

    Already it’s December. My, how the time has flown.

    I worked and worked the whole year long, with little to be shown.

    I took a break to house-sit, down in Halibut Cove.

    It was only nine weeks long, but there it’s not so cold.

    I was home a little while ‘fore I went to see

    my brother and his family, and their new winery.

    I met my grandniece Isabella, then the time I found

    to wander through the ruins of Seattle Underground.

    In between I took a cruise to Juneau, Ketchikan,

    with Seattle also on the route, but research was my plan.

    Despite the hiking and the float, zip-lining through the trees,

    a writer’s workshop was on board, for work—don’t you see?

    I might have stayed home all of June, can’t remember now,

    but in July, I was gone again, my camper under tow.

    Oh, wait, I wasn’t either home, I remember now.

    I was back in Homer for a writer’s conference.

    I went back over to the Cove and kayaked all around,

    saw what it’s like without the snow covering the ground.

    Late July in Fairbanks, smoke-filled air so thick,

    and Pablo started sneezing, so we left ‘fore he got sick.

    We stopped along the way, where Denali filled the screen

    of the small plane I flew in ‘round that mountain scene.

    August found me frying in the hot Hawai’an sun,

    down in a crater building fence and having lots of fun.

    I got home in time to change suitcases for a treat:

    cruise the Russian waterways, a trip that’s hard to beat.

    October’s chilly weather sent me to the Cove again

    so Jim and Jan could travel some, while I let out the cat.

    I spent three weeks in Mazatlan, drinking cerveza.

    Then came home to weather that’s nothing like a spa.

    I think I might stay home a while, but on that I wouldn’t bet,

    ‘cause what’s on the bucket list? Far away Tibet!

    That’s what I’ve done the whole year long, just worked and worked and worked,

    and still there is no book in print, my name embossed on it.

    I’ll tell you now this writing thing? It’s more work that I thought.

    There simply isn’t enough time to write the things I ought.

    Instead I’ll send you greetings now, and wishes for the season,

    ‘cause it’s one thing I CAN get done, a most important reason.

    Here’s wishing you and all of yours a Merry Christmas-time,

    and all the best in the New Year, and peace for all mankind.

    Love, Jeanne and Pablo

  26. A melody got stuck in my head this afternoon. Don’t know what it is, so I made up my own words:

    Please, Santa,
    Don’t come down my chimney,
    I’m afraid that you will fall,
    The pitch is steep, the snow so deep,
    And the rooftop is so tall.

    I’ll leave the side door open.
    You’d best come in that way.
    It’s closer to the Christmas tree,
    And less liability.

    Please Santa,
    Don’t come down my chimney,
    It’s a woodstove, don’t you know,
    There’s a handle for to seal it well
    And the pipe is very small.

    There’s a catalytic converter
    To burn the smoke away.
    It’s not there to break your fall,
    But because of EPA.

    Please, Santa,
    Don’t come down my chimney,
    I’m afraid that you’ll get stuck.
    The fire’s hot, the coals are deep,
    And yells disturb my sleep.

    You can leave your big black boots on,
    As you walk across the room,
    The carpet won’t show melted snow
    In the fire’s dancing glow.

    Please, Santa,
    Don’t come down my chimney,
    I’m afraid you’ll plug the stack,
    The room will fill with the fire’s smoke,
    And that will make me choke.

    I’ll leave a cup of chocolate,
    But it won’t stay hot too long
    You can nuke it in the microwave,
    If you like it just that way.

    Please Santa,
    Don’t come down my chimney,
    My presents are too large,
    In these days of rampant fees,
    I don’t need a surcharge.

    About my new computer,
    I need four gigs of RAM,
    My keyboard’s fine, the monitor, too,
    And I don’t need a web cam.

    Please, Santa,
    Don’t come down my chimney,
    If you’re on my DSL,
    ‘Cause you’ll find, you won’t get done
    Till it’s time for summer’s fun.

    Before you leave, I wish you
    A Merry Holiday,
    Lots of hugs, and days of cheer,
    and a Happy New Ye-e-e-e-e-ar……

     Gullible 12/24/09

  27. Ahhhhh,

    The Random Access Memory that is my brain is remembering snatches of the original lyrics:

    Have a jolly, holly Christmas,
    It’s the best time of the year…

    I think I like my words better. But then, they’re mine!

  28. I love you all so very much. Merry Christmas everybody.

  29. Oh, this is ever so much fun…

    I put away the cookies
    That were on the side table,
    Lest the IRS say they’re fringe benefits
    And makes them taxable.

    I didn’t leave the milk out,
    It’s best there in the fridge,
    ‘Cause the FDA would sue my butt
    If warm milk made you sick.

    There are hand wipes by the entry,
    I want you to use a few
    So you don’t leave the germs that cause
    That horrible swine flu.

    I have to lay one rule down:
    Put away your pipe.
    We all know about second-hand smoke,
    So smoking’s no joke.

    This could go on for days unless there’s a Christmas miracle.

  30. Gullie – your thoughts on punctuation led me to these few definitions. They came to me as I was trying to go to sleep Wed nite, while also fretting about all I had to accomplish the next day.

    parentheses – curved bookends holding afterthoughts
    exclamation – a period shouting
    comma – paws for a cause
    quotes – earmuffs for dialogue

    Hope your holidays have been joyful! I’m looking forward to a wonderful New Year with you all!

  31. Newbie!!! Fantastic. Glad to have you amongst us. We could learn from you.

  32. Ann,

    I hope you feel the love.

    Gully said so wonderfully what we all feel. Thank you for giving us the gift of “good-write.” (and if you have any good-write to spare, please send it my way – I can certainly use it!)

    I hope you had a merry Christmas and that 2010 brings you joy, peace, and [insert good things here].


  33. My new, revised, much better Christmas song will apear Monday at The Elder Storytelling Place. This version has much more….um, focus.

  34. “appear”. I took out the double “a’ but forgot to add another “p”. Rats.

  35. Heads up, Writers. Some descriptive writing and unusual use of words I’ve come across recently:

    “When the train pulled into [the station], the passengers slid out as if from a torn package.”
    From The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

    (A character watching Nazi soldiers march past, after describing various reactions of other spectators…) “Huberman wore a face with the shades pulled down.”

    “He adjusted his position and his bones creaked like itchy floorboards.”

    (Note: read The Book Thief. I could underline something on almost every page that caught my imagination.)

    “He hid a scornful smile under his moustache, which is not a good hiding place.”
    From “The Lacuna” by Barbara Kingsolver.

    “…flapping about like dreams trying to escape from a skull.”

    “…his cigarette leaking like a piece of cotton from his mouth.”
    From “Bitterroot: A Novel” by James Lee Burke

    (After a paragraph describing how a man uses a small piece of paper torn from the Wall Street Journal to stop a small cut from bleeding…) “No newspapers big enough to paste him back together in Saigon.”
    From “Let the Great World Spin: A Novel: by Colum Mccann.

    “Another day; another dolor.”

    “Revolving doors pushed quarters of conversation out onto the street.”

    Anyone else?

  36. To Ann,

    I left a response to your NaNoWriMo question up above, below your submission.

  37. Ok Gully, here’s my Christmas poem…..So now what ya started……….

    I look in the mirror
    And what do I see?
    That Santa’s my daddy
    It just has to be.

    Our hair is white
    And so is our beard
    We look so much alike
    That it’s really weird.

    Our belly’s will bounce
    Like a bowl of full of jello,
    We both like to laugh
    Are jolly good fellows

    We’re cranially challenged
    Our heads big and round.
    We’re known to be different
    We continually confound.

    We do have our differences
    A few I do see.
    You Ho Ho Ho
    One’s enough for me.

    I admire the color blue
    Red’s kinda scary.
    The white fur trim, I feel
    Makes you look like a fairy.

    So dear Santa
    I think you can see
    Why I think you’re my dad
    Do you believe little ole me?

  38. Look again, Walk. I do believe Santa’s now our peer.

  39. Awareness came slowly. First, the unusual name, a name of no one known, heard of, or imagined. Last name? It was there, too. Fairly common name, equally appropriate for a given name as a family name. Certainly better than the one that was there.

    The rest of the first line made its appearance, and still the writer didn’t recognize what was happening. She continued her self-appointed task, the weekly search for the desk under piles of books, half-finished projects, holiday cards, return address labels, the detritus of paperwork left unfinished.

    How long the line circled is unknown. Could have been minutes or hours, but probably more like a quarter-hour. When the writer finally realized the line was in her head, she opened a new Word document and dutifully typed the spinning words into the clean white window.

    Then she wondered how to save it, what to call it, what would trigger its name if there were more to come, more words to type into the window.

    May as well use that unusual name, she decided. So, she did.

    “Fenster Tyler thought he had it all figured out. He knew what was going down. He knew who was behind it, too.

    “The only thing he couldn’t figure out was how the wire was getting tighter around his neck when he had all four fingers of each hand under it, and was fighting for all he was worth. Which, as it turned out, wasn’t much because pretty soon Fenster Tyler didn’t know anything at all, and never would.”

    She waited. Left the demanding window alone, closed the document out, and left the room. Went downstairs and worked on the jigsaw puzzle. No more words came, but she knew there was something in that lead paragraph. Something would grow there, if she left it alone.

    A watched pot never boils, she said to herself. She worked on the puzzle an hour or so, turning the words over and over, examining them for clues. Where were they leading? Why were they there? Where did that name come from? And why did “Moon Man” keep popping up in her head? Why visions of a vagrant who kept saying, “Moon Man?”

    What was the muse up to now?


    • I can’t wait to read whatever your muse does with this very interesting beginning.

      Aw, Gully. I know you don’t consider what you do here as WORK.

    • Oh Gully! Your muse has given you a vigorous prodding. Where shall you go from here? Forward, maybe backward?!

      I’m so excited for you. Have fun allowing the creative forces take control. Where ever they lead you I’m fairly confident it will be down the right road.

  40. I haven’t a clue, Fignatz. I just finished The Book Thief which is about WWII Germany, but certainly didn’t come across the name Fenster. Considering that Fenster is garroted in the beginning paragraphs, I doubt he’s meant to play much of a role in the story–whatever the story is. As mentioned, I am severely plot-challenged with fiction.

    The author of The Book Thief, Markus Zusak, lives in Sydney. I am hopelessly enamored of his writing style and, fickle thing that I am (or maybe only gullible), I will attempt to mimic it in future writing, at least until the next great read comes along.

    For instance, rather than writing “…she opened a new Word document and dutifully typed the spinning words into the clean white window, ”
    I could have written, “…she opened a new Word document and pinned the spinning words to the clean white window.” Or something like that.

    BTW, nice to find you still lurking hereabouts.

    • Don’t you just hate having to explain pathetic jokes? “Fenster” is German for “window”, that’s all. I won’t give up my day job.

  41. Oh, “…pinned the fluttering words to the clean white page.” Much like (gag) collecting butterflies. Flutterbys, as I called them when I was a little kid. Much better name, I thought, but really didn’t know any better.

  42. Fignatz,

    My abject apologies. Truly, my retention of Germanic vocabulary is pathetic, not to mention that I constantly intermingle it with Spanish. Sorry, again, for I am in Jerome K. Jerome writing mode at the present.

  43. Shaddy and darksculptures,

    Genius? Perhaps. Than again, it might be a bit of failure to pay attention, or trodding a path less traveled.

  44. Ann,

    I have not been able to enter my classroom since ed2go’s “upgrade.” In fact, it shows I am not enrolled in a current class, yet I am at only lesson six. Have sent an e-mail. Is this a problem everywhere since the system “upgrade?”

  45. Please click on my name in this submission and read the chapter posted there from my NaNoWriMo novel.

    I can’t know whether I’ve written absolute garbage or something of interest and value unless I hear from folks who know a thing or two about writing. I realize it’s a lot to ask, but who else can I go to but y’all.

    I thank darksculptures, dayner and natasha/nancy for their invaluable input.

    I’ll pay for a review if necessary. Just send me a bill at 2770 Iris Drive, Beloit, WI 53511.

    I think it’s a Pulitzer Prize winning novel I’ve got in my possession. I’d hate to see it go into the wastebasket due to a lack of encouragement.

    Really. It’s um…it’s um…it’s um…well, I’ll leave it to you tell me what it is.

    Multiple choice evaluations of my novel judging by this chapter:

    1. A work of crap.
    2. Not very good but not terrible.
    3. It has a smidgen of promise.
    4. Go for it. Some fool might publish it.
    5. Start planning your acceptance speech for the Pulitzer Prize.

    • Sorry it took me so long. Someone said something about wine on my blog and I found myself making my way to the kitchen. Hummm…. I wonder who that could have been?

      I vote #4 – Go for it,! But I think if you told the story in first person, it would capture the hearts of many and the publisher would not need resemble the fool.

      • Thanks for your ever-present support. Your suggestion of using the first-person perspective sounds like a wonderful idea to me too. I’ll make a note to myself regarding that.

  46. I’m pretty sure you all know that I DON’T REALLY consider my novel to be of Pulitzer Prize quality. I suspect I’ll have wait until my third or fourth novel is published to achieve such an honor.


  47. She gripped the handrail as she peered down the long narrow stairwell. A single light bulb cast a small circle of hazy light on the last two steps at the bottom. Shadows fingered out across the wall like unwanted visitors—silent and foreboding—while her mind tried to outrun the fear that engulfed her. She must do this, she must do this. She repeated this command over and over but the fear only grew stronger. She wanted to sit down and cry but there was no time for that. She tried to take a deep breath but failed. Instead, shallow and shaky breaths quivered out of her mouth causing swirls of panic through her body. She had to face this; there was no way out. She whispered a pleading prayer as she moved downward towards the light. Her heart outpaced the measured rhythm of her feet on the stairs. Finally, she reached the last step but fear was strangling her and choking out the plan. She fought hard to hold onto the plan. She must stick to the plan. Her right hand trembled as she held the weapon in front of her. It would be over soon, she thought. Just stick to the plan.
    She propped up on the sofa in a fetal-like position and stared blankly into the deepening silence all around her. Waves of nausea and panic washed over her until eventually she felt herself slipping down, down, far away into insanity. Deep into the caves of silence she fell—away from this earth…this madness…this….
    She sat up and breathed a deep, life-restoring breath. She was thrust upon the shores of sanity once again. The mousetrap worked.

    • After many hours of attempting to write from Ann’s prompt, I’ve decided it is only right that I should share my miserable mess of words with you all! I used the sentence “Her heart outpaced the measured rhythm of her feet on the stairs”.

    • Miserable mess, my ass!!! (Sorry, the devil made me write that). As usual, you’ve written wonderfully.

      I appreciate the many hours you spent on this prompt. I bet everything you wrote is much better than you think.

      Happy New Year, Kathy.

      • The devil didn’t make you say ‘ass’, my writing did!! Ha! It did the same thing to me as I struggled to get it written. Well, to be honest, I said a lot more than just that one. I think I invented some new ones too! I could make a list… Nah, maybe I should keep them to myself.

  48. Kathy, why aren’t you with us more? I thought your piece was excellent, your descriptive words clever and unusual and not cliched. (That’s supposed to be klee-SHAYED but the little gadget won’t appear here over the “e”. Seriously, out from under the table and out in the open more often. Your words need the sunshine you can’t find under the table.

    • Why am I not with you all more? You wouldn’t believe it if I told you so I won’t tell you. One reason I can tell you though–it’s very simple: I am so intimidated by everyone’s quality writing. Most of the time I feel like the village idiot that should be chained under the table.

      • Hey! I’m the village idiot around here and I hope you don’t feel like me.

      • Nope, Walk, you can’t have more than one idiot per village–it’s in the rule book. Besides, I’ve read you “Christmas Poem” and that proves you can’t be the idiot.

  49. Hey, it takes a village to have an idiot….or, is it, it takes an idiot to have a village…no, maybe it’s the whole village is an idiot.. .or, perhaps anyone who’d have a village is an idiot? whatever…

  50. Sigh. Sunday morning and I can’t think of a thing to write about. Been like this for several days. I’m lost, at loose ends, coming unglued. Maybe looking through keepsakes will prompt something. Perhaps old photos will help. Suppose something will crop up while I finish cleaning up my loft? That might work. Good thing I’ve been busy the last few days. Takes some of the emptiness away.

    • I’m sending some galumphing material your way. How about, a bag full of seed, a hairbrush and a a box full of ball jar lids for preserving. Strange as that sounds those are three things that just happen to be on my desk at the moment.

  51. Hey, I say we’re all fricking idiots. Why else would we spend hours putting our thoughts on paper, working so hard to perfect them and then waiting for someone to say what we wrote was pleasant reading…and if they don’t, we refuse to believe we wasted our time…our readers just don’t know a good piece of writing when it’s shoved in their faces.

    I just finished rereading JANE EYRE. Now that was a pleasant experience from the reading of the first word on page one to the very last word.

    We must be idiots if we choose to write when we could more easily sit and read what people like Charlotte Bronte have created for our enjoyment.

    Actually, on second thought, we’re not idiots at all. It’s because we have the rarely found self-discipline, inspiration, motivation, desire, need, resolve, creativity, chair-glue and plain old determination to dig deep within ourselves in hopes of finding the most superb words to craft perhaps only one single sentence in our lifetimes that when perused resembles what the renowned authors have achieved.

    Well, now I’m back to thinking we’re all a bunch of idiots again!!

    With respect for your individual opinions, I now leave you to choose what you consider yourself to be as you pursue your passion, an idiot or an individual in pursuit of self-expression.

    Finally, I resolve that I’m both an idiot and one who finds joy and satisfaction in writing.

    • For Shaddy

      And sometimes we write and hope for readers but there are none, or so it seems, and it scares us and puts us back where we started from. You know that place. The place where our minds tell us we’re idiots. We can’t write a single coherent sentence. And believing that is so much easier than believing our other selves, our writer selves.

      So we stop. We put down the pencil. We shove the notebook back in the drawer. We walk away. We cry. And we cover up in the bed and open a book. And we read. And we let the story take us to a different time and place. We live there for awhile, licking our wounds. But while we’re there, we begin to see those sentences. You know, those sentences that wrap around your heart. Those sentences that twist in your gut. You reluctantly come to the end of the book and you see it– the message is strong and clear. The safe, reading haven where you retreated turns out to be the voice that speaks to you. The voice that’s always spoken to you ever since you learned to read. You close the book and your heart reminds you once more–yes, I want to write like that.

      So you pick up your pencil and you find your tablet and you take that step forward. Again.

  52. Galumping for Darksculptures
    Here’s my galumping paragraph for you DS:

    A bag full of seed
    A hairbrush
    A box of lids for canning

    Ann tied her hair back into a ponytail, giving her bangs one more pass with the hairbrush. She headed downstairs to the kitchen to start her day canning the 70 pounds of peaches she picked yesterday. Looking out the window, she saw Cris with the bag of seed heading for the birdfeeder just outside the kitchen window. The goldfinches kept her company, singing their thanks, as she assembled her canning supplies. Canning pot, jars, lids, boxes of ball lids, sugar, she had it all. If only she had help.

    • Newbie that was great!

      That’s just about how I feel when I am canning… “If only she had help.”

    • Great galumphing, Newbie. Yes, isn’t it odd how the house is deserted when it’s canning season. Another time is when you’re bringing in the groceries–not a human in site to help. Or at the clothesline. Or when…..

    • Newbie,

      Your Galumphing inspired me to write a short little essay last night. If you want to see your inspiration in action, pop on over to my page and read it.

      Thanks for the inspiration!

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