Flash Fiction is one of our favourite challenges here on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop. This week, Leslie Hachtel set this assignment:
In 500 words or less using the words trapeze, oranges and sidewalk.
She stretched out her arms and balanced like a trapeze artist. The curb edging the sidewalk was made of crumbly concrete, and she imagined she was on a rocky ledge, one tiny misstep from plunging hundreds of feet to her death. She felt a little dizzy, even though she knew if she did fall, it would only be a little step into a smoothly paved gutter.
“Lizzie, be careful!” her mother scolded. “Come hold my hand.”
Obediently she joined her mother. Lizzie wondered what she would say if Lizzie really did climb a mountaintop. Not that she would be allowed to until she was grown up. Her seventh birthday had been a couple of months ago, so she was almost eight. But she wasn’t even allowed to go to the store by herself, even though it was on the corner of their street and she could see it from her house. Mr. Amir, the owner, was a smiling man with dark skin and white teeth. Sometimes he gave her candy from a bin behind the counter. Lizzie knew she shouldn’t take candy from strangers, but Mr. Amir wasn’t a stranger. He had a granddaughter in the grade above Lizzie. She had the most beautiful straight black hair. Lizzie wound a finger in her own pale strands, scowling.
Mr. Amir’s store smelled of spices and fruit. Her mother let go of her hand to fill a bag with oranges. Lizzie wandered around the corner, exploring. It wasn’t a big store, but it had lots of nooks and crannies, filled with brightly coloured packages covered in lettering that didn’t look like the alphabet on the wall in her classroom.
A few minutes later, she headed to the front of the store, expecting to see her mother at the till. But no one was there. She frowned. “Mommy!” she called. “Mr. Amir?”
Her heart started to pound. Where were they? Maybe out front? She pulled the glass door. It didn’t open. She pulled again, as hard as she could, but it didn’t budge. It was locked.
“Mommy!” she called again. Her belly felt cold and hard, like the time she’d eaten too much cotton candy. This is an adventure, she told herself, like climbing a mountain. Don’t be afraid. At yet she was more afraid than she’d ever been. A sob punched out of her chest and tears spilled down her cheeks.
Then she heard her mother’s voice. “Mommy!”
“Lizzie!” Her mother appeared at the end of the aisle, and Lizzie sprinted toward her.
“You were gone! You and Mr. Amir were gone!” She clung to her mother’s waist, breathing in the scent of laundry and peanut butter. “The door was locked! I couldn’t get out!”
“Mr. Amir locked it because he wanted to show me his garden out back.”
“I thought you’d left me.” Lizzie’s shoulders lifted and lowered in a sigh.
“Oh, baby. Mommy would never leave you.” She wiped the tears from Lizzie’s face. “Let’s go home.”
Lizzie held her mother’s hand all the way home, and didn’t once wish she was older.
I'd love to hear what you think. Leave a comment below, and then hop on to the creator of this challenge, Leslie Hachtel!
Here in Northern BC, September is often one of our most beautiful months. We usually enjoy bright skies, colourful leaves, and warm daytime temperatures. This year it wasn’t quite as nice as we expect, so this week’s topic on Romance Writers Weekly is appropriate: Jenna Da Sie challenges us to write a poem about summer ending.
If you joined me from A.S. Fenichel welcome! Here’s my attempt (it’s been a long time since I wrote poetry!).
September tears mourn summer sunshine,
Clear heralds of the whiteness to come.
Blue skies give way to a flat, grey ceiling
That presses down our spirits.
A pall of red and gold drowns the hills,
Until battling winds blow it away.
Thin, twisted skeletons wait in silence
For the frigid chill of winter dark.
Hmmm – I seem to be in a bit of a morbid mood today. I forgot how poetry makes you look inside yourself and search for what you truly feel.
Leslie Hachtel Is up next. Keep on hopping by clicking here.
It’s great to have good days, where everything goes exactly the way we planned. But the bad days make for the best stories. This week on Romance Writers Weekly, I challenged our members to tell a real life story about something that went horribly awry, but now makes everyone laugh.
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome!
First off, I'd like to wish my Mom a very happy birthday today! She's a woman of many talents (most of which I didn't get) with an adventurous spirit. And just because it is her birthday, I'm going to share one story about her that is legend in our family, before I get to my own. Sorry, Mom!
Winter in Northern BC usually involves lots of snow and bright, clear days. Snowshoeing is a favourite pastime for my parents. One day a number of years ago they were trekking along a trail that ran next to a road. There had been a big snowfall the day before, and up ahead a snowplow was making its way toward them. For those of you not blessed (or cursed) with snowy winters, snowplows can be huge monsters of vehicles, and they travel quickly, pushing plumes of snow ten feet high or more onto the shoulders of the road as they roar past. My mom figured she would just stand under this plume, as it looked light and fluffy. My dad, at little further away from the road, turned his back and pulled his hood up over his head. When the plow had gone by and he faced forward again, all he could see was a figure lying flat on her back, snowshoes pointing to the sky, completely covered in snow. After he stopped laughing, he helped her up (it's very tricky to get to your feet wearing snowshoes!) and then they spent the next several minutes shaking snow out of everywhere – behind her glasses, down her coat, inside her boots. Upon reflection, they both realized how lucky she had been. There could have been rocks or other debris inside that plume that could have hurt her badly. But that doesn't stop us from laughing every time we think of this story!
As for myself, one of the most humiliating events occurred when I was in Grade 12. It was the end of the year and we were having a pool party at a friend's house. I dove off the diving board, climbed out of the pool and stood back on the board to dive again. That was when I noticed various fingers pointing and heard shouts of laughter—and realized my bathing suit top had slipped down during my first dive and one boob was hanging out. I've never gotten into a pool faster than that moment. In hindsight, of course, this isn't nearly as awful as I thought as a seventeen-year old! But it still makes me squirm to think of it.
The other bad-but-funny experience I had was when I had a severe allergic reaction to codeine. For years I had codeine for severe headaches. But this time, shortly after I'd taken the pills, my face started to tingle, my lips started to itch, and by the time we reached the hospital emergency my whole face was so swollen I couldn’t see. They hooked me to an IV full of Benedryl and my husband and I waited for it to take affect. The doctor—who I couldn't see, remember—had the most lovely Australian accent. I pictured a young, handsome surfer dude, and couldn't believe that he was seeing me with a head like a pumpkin. Talk about worst first impressions! It took hours for the swelling to go down, but when I could finally see again, the doctor came back to release me. I'm still not sure if I was relieved or disappointed to discover he was a short, balding man, and not the hunk I'd envisioned. He still had a lovely voice, though!
Do you have any stories about bad days that you know look back on and laugh? Feel free to share in the comments below.
Jenna Da Sie is next! I hope you hop on over and visit her here.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is a GIF worth? This week on Romance Writers Weekly, Jenna Da Sie challenges us to make a post about our day, but in GIF form!
If you joined me from Dani Jace wasn't that fun?
Here's my attempt at describing my Sunday (which is when I write my blog):
The dog wakes me up at 7am – half an hour later than yesterday, thank goodness.
I brave the grocery store.
Unfortunately, I forgot my list at home,
which means when I get back and check it, I've forgotten a few things. So, I walk the dog to the corner store and pick up what I need.
While the dog recovers from our not so strenuous walk,
I do some editing.
Dinner is at my in-laws, which means I eat too much,
And spend the rest of the evening dopey and sleepy.
Well, that was kind of fun! Next in line is Kathryn Renard. Be sure to keep on hopping!
Anyone else have the Barenaked Ladies song playing in their head? No? Well, here you go:
You're welcome. :)
This week on Romance Writers Weekly, we get to dream – and dream big! Leslie Hachtel asks:
If someone handed you a million dollars, what would you do with it?
Did you join me from J.J. Devine? I hope you left a comment on your thoughts of how she'd spend her money!
My mom calls extra money that happens to fall into your lap "mad money." You're not supposed to spend it on essentials – you're supposed to splurge, or buy something utterly ridiculous. Once she found a twenty-dollar bill, and bought this amazingly ugly jumpsuit with big baggy pants and a florid print. It made us all smile to see her in it. I guess that was the point!
I wish I could be as creative as the BNL with their million dollars, but I'm too boring for that. I'd probably do what most people would – pay off debts, make sure some was invested wisely, shared with family and charities.
But then? The rest would be mad money. And that might be the hardest to spend of all.
The thing is, I'm not much of a shopper. Retail therapy is not something I engage in. If I need something, I shop around, then buy the best I can at the best price. But I've never been the type to go to the mall on the weekend just to by things. And I've always been torn over "need" and "want." Yes, I "want" nice clothes and sexy shoes and elegant bags (LOTS of shoes and bag!) but do I "need" them? No.
So, the first thing I'd do is take a certain amount of mad money and hire a personal shopper (maybe Stacy or Clinton from What Not to Wear? I used to love that show) and have them outfit me with a complete wardrobe. That would take the stress out of it for me!
You might wonder why I didn't pick buying books as my first mad money spend. That's because, while I'm getting that new wardrobe, I'm also building a sunroom onto my house, and I am outfitting that sunroom with shelves. Then I will be buying books to fill those shelves. I'd buy first editions of my favourites, because I'd love to be able to collect valuable books, and be sure to fill the holes in series I already own but don't have a complete set of. I'd search for the bindings that match the ones I already have, even if the ones I own are in paperback, because I like sets to be seamless, and the books I already own I love, even if they are tattered and torn.
Travel would be in there somewhere, too. I'm very luck to have already visited many wonderful places in the world, but there are so many more to discover.
Now all I need is someone to give me that million dollars!
I wonder what Jenna Da Sie would spend her money on! Hop on over and see!
This week on Romance Writers Weekly – it's Flash Fiction Challenge time! If you joined me from CL Marcolini, welcome!
Flash fiction is when you are presented with a scenario and simply sit down and write, as quickly as you can, whatever comes to mind. It's a great way to get the creative juices going. Here's the scenario we've been given this week:
Your character just washed up on the shore of a deserted tropical island. How did they get there? What happens next?
Here's my contribution:
Be careful what you wish for, Amanda thought as she lay, panting, on the white sand beach. Waves lapped around her hips. She'd barely had enough energy to crawl this far. Any further exploration of this tiny island was going to have to wait until she'd recovered from her desperate swim.
All she'd wanted to do was flee the mayhem that was a Mexican resort during Spring Break. Crowded with sun-burned tourists, iPhone addicted twenty-somethings and wedding-party tensions, it had been far from the peaceful, serene setting she'd seen in the brochure.
Day One hadn't been that bad. She'd been so happy to escape the Northern British Columbian winter, still dragging on with sleet and snow, that she'd actually smiled--smiled—at the chaos around her. By the end of Day Two, the novelty had worn off, and only the flirtatious greeting of the magazine-handsome lifeguard had kept it from being a total write off. Day Three, despite seeking out a sun chair as far away from the half-hysterical games organizers and popular poolside as she could get, she'd begun regretting her choice of resort.
She'd noticed the island the first day, of course. It floated on the surface of the cerulean water, sometimes seeming so close she could touch it. In three days of watching, she had yet to see one person set foot on it.
It was the island of her dreams, and she wasn't going to waste another day of her vacation staring longingly at it.
Sucking back the last of her Pina Colada (her new favourite breakfast drink) she strode determinedly into the water. She wasn't an Olympic-level swimmer, but considered herself competent in the water. If she took it easy, there should be no reason she couldn't get to the island in a few minutes. The water was calm, low, rolling swells lifting her gently up and down as she settled into a smooth breaststroke.
The first few minutes were lovely. The insistently cheerful dance music blaring from the loudspeakers by the pool faded away, and all she could hear was the swish of the water slipping past her shoulders. It was pure bliss.
The odd thing was, though, that the island didn't seem to be getting any closer. From shore, it had looked barely two or three hundred metres out. But she'd been swimming for long enough that her muscles were started to feel it and she was nowhere near stepping on its isolated shores.
She stopped for a moment to tread water and look behind her. Well, I have to be getting somewhere. The hotel is definitely father away.
With renewed determination she set out again. The island slowly grew larger, and the hotel smaller. Now she was past the point of no return. She had no choice but keep on going.
She began to serious wonder if she might drown. Wouldn't that be ironic, she thought wildly, if I die because I wanted to be alone for a few minutes.
The island was finally close enough she attempted to touch bottom. No luck. She relaxed only for an instant and her head dipped beneath the waves. Sputtering, she broke through and struggled on, her movements uncoordinated and thick. When she next attempted to touch bottom, she could feel the sand brush under her toes, but couldn't support herself. A few more thrashing strokes and she'd knew she'd live. But by then she was so exhausted the easy pull of the waves as they rolled back from shore knocked her to her knees, and she crawled the last few feet until she was safe.
She rolled to her back and stared up at the cloudless sky. Well, that was one of the stupidest things you've ever done. And how the hell am I going to get back?
The roar of a jet ski intruded into her self-recrimination. Raising herself on her elbows, she saw one of the resorts machines flying towards her. Standing at the controls was the sexy lifeguard, bronzed skin gleaming with spray, inky-black hair whipping about his head, white teeth gleaming.
Perfect, Amanda thought. I think I'd rather drown.
I'd love to hear what you think about my story! Be sure to leave a comment, and then hop over to A.S. Fenichel http://asfenichel.com/blog and see what she's dreamt up for you!
After a little hiatus over the summer months, we're back with Romance Writers Weekly! This week, we're playing the Would You Rather Game, and I'm asking some tough questions. If you joined me from Jenna Da Sie, welcome!
Would you rather be invisible or read minds?
At first, I was going to wimp out on this one and answer this question with the condition that I could CHOOSE when to be invisible or read minds. But I've decided to answer it as if that condition was permanent and could not be changed. In that case, I'm definitely choosing invisible. I think it would be way too uncomfortable to read minds 24/7. But being invisible would be almost as good, because you could sneak up on people and listen to them talking. Of course, eavesdroppers rarely hear anything good about themselves, don't they? It would also be easy to get some alone time if no one can find you!
Would you rather own a ski lodge or a surf camp?
While I love the ocean, and sexy surfers are a thrill to watch, I think I'd rather run a ski lodge. There's something especially romantic about curling up in front of a roaring fire after a day on the slopes (I do ski, but not well and not for a long time) and I also think there would be more to do at a ski lodge. Running a surf shop might get boring after awhile.
Would you rather be a dog named Killer or a cat named Fluffy?
It always seems to be the dogs named Killer are little yappy things, so I'm going with a cat named Fluffy. It's still an awful name, but you don't call a cat by name as often as you do a dog, so I think I could get over it.
How did Dani Jace answer the same three questions? Find out, by clicking to her blog here!
This week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop, Jenna Da Sie asks:
What are some of your favourite famous quotes and why?
When I first read this topic I thought there was no way I'd be able to come up with any quotes. It's not like I memorize them to use as a mantra or anything like that. But when I started thinking of quotes as lines from books or movies, a lightbulb went off.
The Princess Bride
This has to be one of the most quotable movies of all time. Just look at this poster! I have a copy that lives in my office and I love it. My favourite is "As You Wish." Could there be a more romantic way to say "I love you?" I'm reading Ilona Andrews "Kate Daniels" series, and at one point Curran says "As you wish" to Kate, while holding The Princess Bride book. It gave me chills. (BTW, if you like paranormal action adventure with just enough romance, you really should check this series out).
Pride and Prejudice
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." Not only one of my favourite quotes, quite possibly the best first line of any book, ever. It completely captures the tone and theme of what comes next. Brilliant.
Here are some of the quotes that keep me writing even when it gets tough (which is most of the time).
"A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit." Richard Bach
"I hate writing, I love having written." Dorothy Parker
"If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word." Margaret Atwood
"I can fix a bad page. I can't fix a blank one." Nora Roberts
I'm also a big fan of this poster, the Writer's Manifesto, which has a lot of great quotes to consider.
Do you have a favourite quote? It doesn't have to be life changing – it could simply be something that makes you feel. Please share in the comments!
Now I'll pass you on to Jenna da Sie, the authoress of this topic. What favourites does she have?
This week's topic on Romance Writers Weekly is short but sweet. Leslie Hachtel asks:
Describe your perfect day.
Wow – there's so much to consider in these 4 simple words. What is perfect? And how could any day be perfect unless it never ended? After all, knowing something is coming to an end is bittersweet, and colours the whole time leading up to it.
Another point to consider – is this perfect day how I'd like to spend the rest of my life? Or is it just a gem to enjoy every once in a while? Appreciation for anything good often comes from "the bad times." As I write this, I am sitting outside on a clear, warm day, with the sound of the pond's waterfall trickling. If our winters weren't so cold and dark, would I be enjoying this moment as much? Maybe not. So I don't think I'd want my perfect day to be every day.
It would be full of simple things. It would start with a sunny morning, just warm enough to sit outside while I have my first coffee (made by my husband, of course) but with a freshness to the air that makes me feel rejuvenated. After a light, delicious breakfast (maybe fresh strawberries on cereal) I would sit down to write for three or four hours. I usually only have a chance to write an hour or so each day, squeezing it in between chores and errands and work, so this would be a true luxury. Also, I think every day is better if we feel we've accomplished something useful or creative.
The afternoon might involve a long walk with our dog, at one of the beautiful trails in the area. And then I'd make a gourmet meal for dinner, which would be attended by family and friends. I like to cook, so that's why it's part of my perfect day. But the way to make it truly perfect would be to have the kitchen magically clean itself. I don't like to clean, and it wouldn't feel right having others clean for me on my perfect day, so the mess would just have to disappear in a poof and swoosh.
The day would end with conversation, music and games. Our family loves to play games of all sorts (usually cards) and it is a wonderful way to spend time with people. We'd have snacks and drinks, and laugh a lot, and maybe dance a little to some classic hits from the eighties and nineties (because after all, that's the best music, right?)
What would your perfect day be like? Would it be to stay at home like mine? Or are you more adventurous and extroverted? I'd love to hear from you! Once you've dropped me a line, be sure to head over to the instigator of this blog, Leslie Hachtel and see what her day would be like.
This week on the Romance Writers Weekly blog, Jenna Da Sie asks:
What are you doing or did you do for the 4th of July or Canada Day to celebrate? Did you see any good fireworks?
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome!
Summer is a great time for festivals in many cities. My own, Prince George, is just coming into its own in regards to that, in my opinion. There's always been the favourite few, but since we hosted the Canada Winter Games in 2015 and celebrated our 100th Birthday in 2016, there seems to be a bigger push on to celebrate with outdoor music, food and fun!
Canada Day has always been one of the biggest parties of the year. It is arranged by the Immigrant and Multiculturalism Society, which I think is an amazing testament to the welcoming attitude most Canadians have to those who have moved to the country in recent years. Thousands go to the city's biggest park to sample ethnic food from a wide variety of cultures, and enjoy entertainment that celebrates our diversity. There is always a strong First Nations presence as well, as we recognize our European culture was not the first in this land. This year was particular special, though, as Canada celebrated 150 years of confederation!
In the past few years, we've usually celebrated Canada Day at one of the many beautiful campgrounds in our area. But this year we were in town, so decided to take in an open air concert at Canada Games Plaza. We caught the two of the three bands, and again it truly shows what a melting pot Canada is. The first, Andino Suns, is a band out of Regina that combines the flavours of South America, particularly Chile, with the wide open spaces of the Canadian Prairies. The second, Delhi2Dublin, is a Vancouver based band that fuses East Indian percussion, Celtic fiddle and digital sounds into fast-paced alternative rock. You really have to check them out. The night ended with some fantastic fireworks – always a great way to celebrate!
I'm always interested to hear about other countries customs and traditions. It's one of the reasons I love to travel. What do you do to celebrate important days in your country? Let me know!
Then be sure to hope on over to the instigator of this topic, Jenna da Sie. She has connections to both Canada and the US – she must have some stories to tell about July 1st and 4th celebrations!