Thursday, June 28, 2012

Writing Prompt. . .

I know my reader probably want to see more of my writing in the way of stories and excerpts, so I decided to visit to browse through the weekly writing prompts.  I found a few that piqued my interest.  

I like the idea of prompts to invoke inspiration and generate stories.  Personally, I think real life situations work better for me, but I'm willing to give this a try.  

In order to try to keep this blog on my designated schedule, I'm going to utilize writing prompts to generate posts.  Here are the rules, if you will:

  1. The prompt will be written above the generated story.
  2. The story must be written in 500 words or less.  (This will be a BIG challenge for me, and I'm looking forward to it.)
  3. At the end, I ask for your comments.  If you post your comments on Facebook, I'll copy them to the blog and give you credit.  Please remember that all criticism is welcome, for an artist in any craft cannot improve his or her work without the honest opinions of those who would be his or her clients or customers.  (In my case, my readers.)

You’ve been writing a blog for a number of months now without issue, then suddenly you’re confronted with an anonymous commenter who posts unwarranted slams against you. A techie friend helps you use the commenter’s IP address to get the address of this rogue. You head to the house ready to pick a fight—but when you knock on the door, the person who answers is someone you know. Write this scene.

The door bell echoed through the house as I waited for the door to open.  I was still fuming about the comment left on my blog by this anonymous scum ball.  Who the hell did this guy he think he was saying such degrading things about my character?  
I paced the porch for a full two minutes.  I knew someone was home.  I could hear footsteps moving through the house. 
When the door finally opened, I stood aghast.  Clad in the worn flannel pajamas I had given her for Christmas when she was just eighteen, stood my now-twenty-six-year-old daughter.  Her blond hair looked freshly brushed, perhaps to look more appropriate for answering the door this early on a Sunday morning.  
"Celia?" I said, still dumbfounded.  "You're the person?"
"I'm what person?" she asked in a haughty tone.  
But my shock kept me tongue-tied, and I stood there just staring at her.
"What do you want, Jack?  It's too early for unexpected reunions."  She huffed out a breath before closing the door in my face.
That broke the spell.  I rapped hard on the door.  It opened almost immediately.  This time I was ready.
“Celia, please,” I said a way to stall her.  
“Please what?  What do you want?”
“You live here alone?  Doesn’t look like much,” I said.  “I’d wanted better for you.”
“Yeah?  Well, you didn’t seem to want anything to do with me or Mom when you walked out eight years ago, Jack.  Why the hell are you here now?  Are you dying, or something?”
Her words and tone cut to the bone.  “I deserve that,” I said on a sigh.  “But, no.  I’m not dying.  I actually came here to speak with the person who left a nasty comment on my blog a couple weeks ago.  Do you anything about that?”
“Why would I care about your blog?  Or anything else about you for that matter?  I’m doing fine without you.”
I turned my back to her and sat on the top step, bracing myself for the confession.  “I traced the IP address of the commenter to this address, Celia.  I was pissed.  That comment was so raw.”
“People needed to know those things, Jack.”  
“Are you admitting to writing the comment?”
She stood there looking down her nose at me, arms crossed over her chest.  Lifting her eyes toward the sky, she said, “Yeah, I wrote it.”
Nothing more was offered, so I probed.  “Why?”
Tears streamed from her eyes, and a sob shook her as she said, “Mom died a month ago.”
As she broke down, I stood and wrapped her in my arms.  “Oh, honey.  I’m so sorry.  I didn’t know.”
“Does it even matter to you?” she accused.
“Celia, there are many things I regret in life, but losing you is the biggest.  Can we go for coffee and talk?”
She sighed.  “I guess so.  Let me get dressed.”

This was tough.  But it was a great exercise for me.  Please tell me what you think.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Birth of Horror. . . ?

Like zombies?  I'm not their biggest fan, but my husband loves them.  If a movie description mentions zombies, he has to at least give it a looksy.  I watch them with him to offer my companionship, but there are only a few I like.

There have been times when the zombie movies he watches at night, in the bedroom, while I'm sleeping, have triggered dreams.  And, while very vivid at the time they unfold--all my dreams are vivid and filled with symbolism--they are quickly lost to the morning's warm glow.  However, there was one dream that stood out.  One dream that left such a heavy imprint on my mind that even the details have stuck with me over the months since it invaded my sleep.

I wrote of this dream before.  I gave a vague description of what it entailed, but nothing more, citing the desire to use it in a story.

That story has been born, but I fear that I may fail to capture the horror aspect of what a zombie story should be.  But maybe that's the problem.  Must it be horror?  Or can I make it more about how a family, and thus a civilization, survives in a world turned upside down by pandemic?

So below I have included a scene from my zombie story.  This scene was borne from the most vivid and impacting part of my dream.  I hope you enjoy it, and that it doesn't give you nightmares--although I don't believe I have that sort of skill.

The Doberman lunged, its lips peeled back to reveal slavering jaws dripping a yellowish goo.  It’s pupils glowed as if a camera flash lit them, but there was nothing behind those eyes.  Nothing that indicated the animal knew what it was doing. 
Instinct had me ducking to avoid losing my face to those jaws.  At the same time, I rammed the fingers of my right hand between the bones on the dog’s lower jaw, the elasticity of the skin allowing me to wrap them around the teeth so the animal bit down on its own flesh.  I knew I couldn’t let it bite me.  The infection that possessed it would kill me.  Adrenaline gave me the strength to yank down on the jaw, pulling the head down and flipping the large black body over onto it’s back.   
As the weight of the beast thumped on the ground, I heard the distinct click-slide-click of a shotgun behind me.   
“Get down,” came my husband’s order as he lowered the double-barrel at the animal.  Covering my ears, I ducked as the dog clambered to its feet and prepared to lunge again.  The blast rocked the tiny basement of the house.  The impact from the shell shattered the Doberman’s head into unrecognizable pieces. 

So how'd I do?  Did I capture violence of the action?  The adrenaline pumping through the character as she deals with the intrusion of her sanctuary?  Let me know.  Give me the good and the bad.  What did I do right?  Wrong?  Please give your honest opinion by leaving a comment below.   I can not improve unless my readers tell me what they want to see.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Overall Impressions. . .

Ok, ok.  I know it's been like a month or more since I've posted an entry here.  I apologize for the lapse.  I could sit here telling you how busy and crazy life has been during my absence, but that would be a waste of time spewing excuses that mean nothing to you, my readers.

If you have come back to read this last entry about our trip to Walt Disney World, I thank you for your patience and loyalty.  

For our last morning we went to the Magic Kingdom to have some PhotoPass pictures taken.  We posed in front of the park entrance for a photo with "Let the Magic Begin" in the background.  Inside we got a shot with Cinderella's castle as the backdrop.  Mom gave her camera to the photographer, and he snapped some pics with it, too. 

The only other thing we did was stop for breakfast.  We had dining plan credits to use before our adventure ended, so we headed into the Main Street Bakery.  It was a bit difficult to weave our way to the door because they had one of those construction tunnel things over the sidewalk, creating a cattle-chute for the guests.  Inside it was determined that this wasn't the right place.  (I don't know why.)  So, we headed out, but not before I saw a wonderful thing.

Near the registers was a rack with a bright red Mickey Mouse-shaped item.  It was a pancake mold.  The very one I had been looking for, but was sold out online and in the Disney Store at home.  Mom and I snagged it on our way out.

We went next door for breakfast, then headed out of the park for the last time.  

I'll spare you the boring details of the airport and the bus ride there.  Just suffice it to say that it was uneventful and timely.

Our time submersed in the magic and chaos that is Disney brought several realizations.  First, and I knew this going in, a family trip to Disney is not a vacation for those of us who are parents.  It is far too stressful to call it a vacation.  

I was surprised to find that most of the guests at Walt Disney World are not Americans.  There were people from all over the world, and in this small area of our own country we were the minority.  It was a bit frustrating at times, like when the woman with the Spanish accent and her entire 6-member family line jumped right in front of us for Snow White's Scary Ride.  I forgot to mention that one earlier, but here you go.  

The entire family climbed under the rope and into line.  Mom and I freaked while the men stood by.  Then woman claimed she had been waiting--outside the roped-off queue area--for 45 minutes while her family went to the restroom, and supposedly the cast member near by said it was okay.  Ummmmm. . . .   I don't think so.  And while we followed the line to the ride, the women mumbled in their heavily accented voices about how they had cut into the line and what the story was.  I wanted to punch the diva sunglasses right off the ignorant shrew's face.

There were many other incidents that involved visitors from other planets.  I mean countries.  Sometimes I wonder what the difference is.  But, don't get me wrong.  I  do not generally hate or judge those from different backgrounds.  I just hate ignorant people who care nothing for others and think only of themselves.  My experience with the foreigners in Disney World was just that.  All of the people who were helpful, courteous, and gracious were American.

Another observation was that, while most cast members were everything Disney advertises them to be, the ones that weren't certainly made up for their overly cheery and friendly counterparts.  I realize you can't be happy all the time, but being downright unpleasant in the service of the public isn't acceptable in my eyes.

Do not go to Main Street USA for parades.  And try to be far away when they start, with plans to stay far away for a while after they end.  The area isn't designed to handle that many people.

We had other, personal issues come up and get in the way of our fun.  I won't go into them, but they did have a significant impact on our first "vacation" as a family.  

As a group, we decided that we'll wait at least another 3-5 years before we attempt this again.  That way Bug will be tall enough to get on just about anything he wants, he'll remember more than "Piglet took my Nuk," and it should be a little less stressful.

Those of you who have stuck with me through this ordeal, I thank you for your loyalty.  And I hope you will continue to return now that the adventure is over.  As a writer, I love knowing that I have readers.  As my readers, you are my reward for writing.