News and a Challenge

I have some news to share. I used 2009 to write a new online class. Don’t get excited, though. It’s a class that’s designed to precede both of my online line classes–Beginning Writers Workshop and Effective Business Writing. The new class is called Writing Essentials, and it focuses on very basic writing skills like word usage, spelling, punctuation, sentences, paragraphs, etc.

If you are eager to review your skills in these areas, it’s a good class. But because I still continue to give WAY too much time to Beginning Writers Workshop, I had to design this class to have all self-correcting assignments. It won’t be discussion area-rich, but it should be content-rich.

The point of this posting is not to toot my horn, however. The point of this posting is that in this new class John and Martha come back to finish their drama. Now, last time I brought up John and Martha, Gullie told me I needed to get out more; but even so, John and Martha proved to be my best strategy for making the study of commas and paragraph breaks interesting. Throughout the new class, their troublesome relationship evolves. (Martha even has to do a stint in prison, poor kid.)

She and John were gracious enough to provide many examples of how to write, however. By the end of the new class, resolution is reached! Their story concludes—at least my version. Your task here, should you choose to accept, is to come up with some action and plot development that begins at the bus stop and ends wherever you choose to take it. Hey, you remember  these two. What have they been up to since you last saw them?

Plotting! Good creative skill. Care to think about what happened next? Collaboration is fine, if you care to build on each other’s postings.

57 responses to “News and a Challenge

  1. Oh, ducky!!! A new class from Ann, and John and Martha to kick around once more. Whoopee! Anyone care to join me? See ya in the classroom!

  2. Wait a minute. I killed John in that class. What’s up? Besides John, I mean.

  3. Hey, you’re creative. An angel perhaps? A ghost? Not really dead? Reincarnation as a cockroach?

  4. Yippee! When will your class be available? I checked the class listing on ed2go but didn’t see Writing Essentials there.

  5. They tell me late spring. I’m ready now, but apparently I’m “in the pipeline” and have to wait my turn.

    • “They” apparently don’t know how very essential your class IS!! I wonder if a case of Drano delivered to their door would aid in unclogging the pipes and hurrying the process along?

  6. Yipee!!! Just like flowers, we’ll bloom as writers in the Spring!

  7. The Drano sounds like a great idea, Shaddy. I’m so ready to see if it works the way I planned. Walk, if they’d move their bloomin’ rear ends, we could have a nice reunion. That is, if you enjoy punctuation and spelling. (Can’t hurt!) Enjoyed working with you in EBW.

  8. Sorry to have been a “no show” lately. My father-in-law passed away last Tuesday and the whole week was hectic. He suffered from Alzheimers.

    I have just now caught up on everyone’s “worst lies”. You guys are great. I love reading your work.


    I cannot wait to get in on your new class. Do you really think there’s hope for me? I always heard you can’t teach an old dog new tricks–do you realize what a challenge I will be for you? My granddaughter did buy “Elements of Style” for me for Christmas. I plan to open that book soon….

    • I have more than hope; I have confidence. New tricks ahead!

      • Ann–you’re going to need more than a little confidence while I’m in your new class. You’re going to need a whole lot of PERSEVERENCE.

    • I’m sorry about your father-in-law’s passing. It’s hard no matter what.

      I hope we hear more from you.

      • Thank you, dear Shaddy. You say “you hope to hear more from me”—-be careful what you wish for! You know how I do–I leap out here and make a fool out of myself and then crawl back under like some gopher.

    • Kathy, I too am sorry to hear about your loss. It’s been less than a year since my dad passed on, so I know it ain’t easy. Give your hubby a big hug and tell him we’re all thinking of him.

      • Thanks, Walk. I knew you had lost your father in the past year. You are right, it is not easy. I lost mine in 2003 and still cannot face that fact. My father-in-law was so deep into the Alzheimers that it does seem a blessing at this point. As Gullible puts it–it is a horrid thing.

  9. Kathy: “open that book?” What’s that all about? Isn’t it enough to just have the book a your shelf. Dang. I must be missing something.

    My condolences on your father-in-law, but for his sake I am thankful for his release from that horrid disease.

    • Yeah, Gullible, I think we’re supposed to “open that book”! I did. Briefly. I read over (with glazed eyes and foggy brain, ’cause I’m old). I made it to page 7. And down near the bottom, it says “rules 3,4,5, and 6 cover the most important principles that govern punctuation. *They should be so thoroughly mastered that their application becomes second nature*.” So, I started back on page one. I got tired and figured I should lie/lay down for a nap. Oh, and the book, well, it does look impressive on the shelf.

      Thank goodness Ann is going to teach me EVERYTHING I need to know about punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraphs. Whew! After that, I’m going to suggest she start another workshop on shaping/revising/editing a poorly written shitty first draft of a half-as…I mean… written novel.

  10. Ann,
    I am so glad to hear you teaching another class, as I just said something about that the other day to a blogging friend! And I loved John and Martha…

    Will you ever create a class that is an advancement of your creative writing class? I don’t need the grammar stuff as much, but I ADORE your teaching style. 🙂

    • We’ve all pleaded with Ann for exactly what you requested above. She has so much on her plate with her present classes that I think it would be nearly impossible for her to take on yet another.

      With the enormous following Ann has, there’s no doubt that she’d have huge classes if she did add another creative writing class.

  11. It is exciting to think of the possibility of another class with Ann.

    Gotta go now — my bus is coming.

    Oh, look who’s getting off! It’s Martha!

  12. Looking forward to this new class! I definately need that kind of learnin’. I left ex-John with their 8 yr old child while Martha was out job hunting in the wintery weather. Just a different take.
    Thanks Ann, for your commitment to the writer-challenged folks who want to learn (me)!

  13. KathyH: You mentioned above that you leap in here and make a fool of yourself and then go hide. I do the same thing only I’m so foolish that I don’t know enough to be embarrassed and go hide.

    You’re a breath of fresh air and always make me smile. Remember this: We’re not here to show off our writing skills; we’re here simply to relax, have fun and enjoy our practice of writing with others.

  14. I’m jumping in late, which seems to be a new gift of mine–procrastination.

    The prospect of another class has me giddy as a schoolgirl. It is also right up my alley. I need help with basic Writing Essentials and with Ann teaching in her always gentle and caring way I know I will get the best help I can.

    I can say in all honesty, that of the Ed2Go classes I’ve taken, Ann, YOU ARE THE BEST INSTRUCTOR!

    Thank you – I’ll see you in the spring!

  15. Wow! I’m gone for a few days and so much has happened.

    Congrats on the new class, Ann. I know it will be successful. It certainly is a topic that everyone could use.

    Sorry to hear about your father-in-law, Kathy. As Shaddy says, it’s hard no matter what the circumstances.

  16. John and Martha went up a hill
    To fetch a pail of water,
    John fell down and broke his crown
    And Martha came tumbling in laughter.

  17. Humpty John sat on a wall,
    Humpty John had a great fall.
    All of Martha’s girlfriends and
    All of her men
    Laughed and made fun of dear John,
    Once again.

  18. “This umbrella is useless,” Martha thought as she waited on the corner for the bus. Wind whipped the flimsy fabric upward, nearly pulling it from her grip. An abrupt splash of icy spring rain smacked her in the face. Not pleasant at any time, but particularly not at seven-thirty in the morning.


    The voice was familiar. She hesitated lifting her meager shelter any higher.

    “Who’s there?” she asked. She gave a feeble attempt to move her arm slightly. Before she could see who it was, a strong hand encircled her arm just above the elbow and led her away from the curb. Nearer the four-story department store, the wind eased and she let her umbrella tip away from her head.

    “John, I’ll miss my bus.”

    She didn’t try to hide the frustration in her voice.

    “My new car is parked just around the corner.”

    Martha had to admit that riding in a warm car sounded pretty inviting, so she let him steer her along the sidewalk until they approached a large black limousine. Her jaw dropped when he opened the rear door and motioned for her to enter. His smile broadened when he saw her reaction and he couldn’t hold back a laugh.

    “Hurry up, I’m drowning here.”

    She handed him the umbrella and slid across the smooth black leather seat. He threw the umbrella onto the floor and slid in behind her.

    “Where to, boss?”

    The feminine voice from the front seat startled her. Weren’t all limousines driven by men?

    “Hyde Park, Kate,” he said.

    The pretty blonde driver eased the car away from the curb and into the line of traffic.

    “You’re incredibly quiet this morning. Are you that surprised?” John’s easy smile lit up his face and made his brown eyes crinkle at the corners.

    “Is this really your car? I mean do you actually own it or is it borrowed or leased or, or, something else?

    “You’re asking if it’s stolen. No. No, it’s legitimately mine.”

    “We’ve only been divorced one year. How did you come up with this kind of money in that short period of time and in this economy?”

    Anybody else want to play?

  19. Ann, I’m with Kathan. I’d give my eye teeth for you to do a more advanced writers’ workshop. I learned more from you than just about anyone else.

    Any chance some time in the future?

  20. Martha was silent for a few moments as she looked at John. Then, like a shade rolling up to reveal a blighted view, realization ravaged her face.

    “John. Omigod, John. You aren’t in business with your family again, are you? Tell me you’re not doing that! Tell me!”

    “And just what’s wrong with my family?” said John.

    “Oh, John. Oh, no. Omigod. Let me out.”

    “Now Martha, it’s not what you think.”

    ” Let. Me. Out. Of. This. Car. NOW!”

    “Oh, for Pete’s sakes, Martha. Stop being so dramatic. I really am sick of your hysterics. There’s nothing wrong with my family’s business, and besides, there’s more than one way to make a buck in a bad economy. Especially with all that stimulus money floating around, and incompetent watchdogs looking the other way.”

    John laughed, a sick, oily laugh that chilled Martha to her soul. She’d rather face the wind and sleet than sit in this filthy vehicle another second. But John was holding firmly to her arm, and a mean look in his eyes made her realize his intent.

  21. Kate glanced into the mirror as her right hand tightened around the pistol’s grip. She smirked at the look on Martha’s eyes, John must have told her about the business. Now she’ll give Martha the business and clean up the last loose end in John’s life.

    John poured a shot of Kentucky bourbon and downed it. “You want one? It warm you from the inside out.”

    “The only thing I want,” Martha said, “Is to have my old, boring life back again. That means to have you out of my life.”

    “Oh Martha darling, why would you say that? Didn’t our vows said until death do we part.” John smiled as he downed another shot.

  22. Martha assessed her predicament. She watched John caress the bottle – same old John.

    Now, Kate was a different story, still an unknown. Then Martha noticed the movement in her peripheral vision. If she could only keep eye contact with Kate long enough!

    “So, Kate, nice to meet you like this.” She smiled at the pistol.

    The bus kept moving toward them. ‘Til death do us part, indeed, Martha thought as metal hit metal and John cried out in pain.

  23. In a split second that seemed to last years, the screech of tearing metal on metal pierced Martha’s eardrums, suffocating the cries of John and Kate as the sliding bus climbed the side of the limo and came to a groaning stop atop the luxury car.

    The limo hit the curb and the opposite doors were wrenched open by the impact, and Martha plummeted to the slush-covered sidewalk. The side of her face scraped along the concrete in the wet snow. John’s body was draped across her legs.

    Martha’s last thought as her vision narrowed was here I am back in the sleet and wind, and John’s here, too. Then a blanket of blackness fell upon the earth.

  24. You guys are great! This is really moving!

  25. Okay, no more typing directly into the window. I see passive sentences, I see too many words, I see stilted descriptions. From now on, no more post haste. Edit, edit, edit.

  26. Martha awoke to incessant beeping. She tried to open her eyes but all she could see was the darkness of the inside of her eyelids. Or were her eyes open?

    She lifted one hand towards her face, but it stopped halfway – it was tied down.

    Martha was still cold, very cold. Where was she, and what was that infernal beeping?

  27. “Natasha, I thought you said that she was brain dead.” Boris said as he tied Martha’s hands tighter to her side.

    “No, my little bad boy. ” Natasha said, “I said you were brain dead if you thought I was wearing that french maid outfit again.”

    Martha wondered if the Fearless Leader was here also. Oh Rocky, save me, save me. I don’t want that mental image to be my last.

    The infernal insistent beeping lulled her back into darkness.

  28. “It’s okay, Martha. It’s okay,” said the woman in aqua scrubs. “You were dreaming, or having a nightmare, but you’re fine now that you’re awake.”

    “Where am I?” asked Martha. “And who are you.”

    “You’re in Linquist Memorial Hospital and I’m you’re night shift nurse Julie. You were in a car accident.”

    “Am I hurt? I don’t feel any pain.”

    “No, the morphine we administered took care of the pain, but you do have a severe concussion and need to remain quiet for a couple days.”

    “I’m starting to remember. There were others in the car. Where … how… did they….”

    “That’s enough talking for now, hon. Doctor’s orders. Try to get some sleep. I’ll let the doctor know you’re conscious, but he probably won’t be in until morning.”

    Nurse Julie checked Martha’s vitals, turned off some of the room lights, and left.

    Martha listened to the infernal beeping until she dozed off.

  29. “Natasha, Natasha. Are you there Natasha?” Boris yelled as he laid on a marble slab.

    “Shut up you idiot, remember my name here is Kate. You are John you dolt. Now get over here and get this toe tag off of me.”

    “Why are you naked? You shouldn’t be naked in a cold room like this, you could catch cold.” John’s concern sounded genuine.

    “Look at you, you oaf. You’re naked too and you can’t blame that on just getting out of the pool. Why did they put your toe tag there?”

  30. “Because the wreck cut off my toes. And, that’s why I can’t ‘ get over there and take off your toe tag.’ You’re dead, Kate. Get over it.”

  31. “I can’t get your, uh, toe tag off if you keep letting your, uh, toe act up like that. Jeepers. We’re in a morgue. We may or may not be dead. Can’t you get your mind on something else?” Kate tried not to look at what she was doing, but suddenly she started to giggle.

    John tried not to laugh, but he couldn’t keep a straight face. “Is this heaven?”

    Kate pulled a sheet off the body on the slab next to John and covered up. The blasted toe tag was finally off. This had definitely not been in her job description. “So now what? Are we dead or what?”

  32. Martha awoke, the infernal eternal beeping filling her ears. Her eyes focused on an image across the room. There standing beside the door stood her son Justin Time, playing that stupid hand held Pac Man game she gave him for Christmas.

    “Put that stupid thing on mute,” she whined at him.

    Justin looked up and smiled, “Good to have you back awake Ma, now get up outta that bed, you got supper to fix. You can’t sleep the day away now can ya?”

    • Justin Time????? Hmm-m-m. Is he John’s son? OR, would he be the illegitimate child of Father Time? (Oh, I can’t believe I just said that.) Let’s go back to Kate and John in limbo…

  33. Ann, are you EVER going to be able to comment on future students’ John/Martha sentences and NOT think about toe tags?

  34. “I think we’re dead,” said John, wincing as he tried to wrap the sheet around himself. “I can’t imagine I’d ever make it into heaven.”

    “Good grief, John. You are so negative. No wonder Martha divorced you. Dead or not, there won’t be any question about it if your family finds out you blew–get that look off your face, John!–yet another assignment.

  35. (Meanwhile, back in the dark and dirty depths of the dumpster, Freakin’ Freddy has spent an apparently interminable absence of any kind of meaningful narrative rummaging around in the rubbish, eventually finding Gullie’s discarded character notes and discovering with mounting concern that his nickname comes from the fact that he suffers from a particularly extreme form of claustrophobia.)

    And now, back to our scheduled program…

  36. Martha senses that she is awake. The beeping has mercifully stopped, and she hears only the chattering of the nurses at their station as the cobwebs of sleep diminish. The absence of fluorescent light on her eyelids tells her it must still be night time.

    She keeps her eyelids closed, hoping to return to the sanctuary of sleep. A thought creeps into her mind, and it seems an eon before she realizes its presence and decodes it. Something has awakened her, something that brings a threat with it rather than get-well flowers in a plastic vase with a helium-filled balloon levitating above their fragrance.

    She searches blindly for clues. She inhales danger. She hears death. She senses a malignancy in the shadows of her room, a menacing presence.

    Carefully she opens her eyes a slit, but sees nothing in the shadows. Her senses are on high alert as she opens her eyes wider.

    Nothing hides behind the wide door, nothing lurks in darkness behind the drapery of the empty bed beside her. She moves her eyes to the tiny closet and the shadows beside it. There is nothing there, she assures herself.

    There is nothing in my room. I can go back to sleep, she thinks.

    But Martha’s detective work has failed her big-time. She has failed to understand that true menace has an emanation that presages itself, so that in the time it took for her to reassure herself, evil walked through the door of Martha’s hospital room.

    With a revolver in its hand.

    [When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand. Raymond Chandler]

  37. “Hello mother.”

    The hair raised on Martha’s neck, “Justin. J-Justin, is that you?”

    “Yes, mother. I’ve come to finish the job that dad and Kate couldn’t finish.” He raised the revolver toward Kate. Tears filled his eyes, “I am sorry mother, but this is family business and…”

    He was interrupted by a beep, an infernal beeping noise, “Hello, Justin. I’ve been waiting for you.” Just then Justin Time stepped out of the shadows of the empty bed’s drapery, his hand held PacMan game screen giving his face an erie glow. “Just how is my twin brother? Just how are you Justin Case?”

  38. “By the way, Mother,” said Justin Time, “I’ve always wondered why you gave us twins the same first names but different second names. What’s that all about?”

    “It was because I was well into my forties when I decided to have a child,” said Martha. “I had to undergo in vitro fertilization, and the doctor said I’d left it almost too late.”

    Justin Time nodded. “So I was ‘just in time’, huh?”

    Justin Case frowned. “Okay, so that explains him,” he said. “What about me?”

    Martha shrugged. “The doctor, a weekend SUV freak, figured it’d be a good idea to carry a spare.”

  39. [When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand. Raymond Chandler]

  40. Ann,
    Great news about your new class! Please be sure to let us know when it is available.

  41. John and Kate, both wrapped in sheets, walked through the sliding doors at the end of the hall. The head nurse looks up and see them, “OMG its the KKK. Look out, let me get my mace.”

    The preppy doctor standing there looks up, “No, No, Nurse Goodbody, its a toga party. You guys shouldn’t have, I didn’t even know you knew that it is my birthday.”

    John walks up and sticks a scalpel under the good doctors chin, “Now I’m only going to ask this once, what room is Martha in?”

    The doctor pointed down the hall, “Room 222.”

    As John and Kate walked down the hall the doctor said, “You guys really throw weird parties.”

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