Sunday, June 26, 2011

Prompt #25: You'd think there couldn't be anything sinister about a flower shop. And you'd be so very wrong.

Linda Periwinkle was an ‘oddball’. All of Flower Mount’s 352 residents knew it. Not one of them had ever visited her flower shop. Not even for the sake of gossip.

Zach Hosta, of the next town over, stumbled upon Periwinkle’s Primitive Plants in the midst of a crisis involving his girlfriend and a six week anniversary.

Zach took a few steps into the dimly-lit shop, the door gliding shut behind him. The air conditioning hummed steadily, accompanied by the fizzle of the overhead lights. A bead of sweat slid down the side of his nose.

“Hello?” He wandered down the center aisle, banked by tables laden with indistinguishable greenery.

The short hairs on his arm suddenly stood erect as light insect feet skittered across his skin. He paused, raising his right hand slowly. Then something slithered to his left and the fly was gone. In its place, three narrow scratches.

“Atheis,” a woman stepped out from the shadow of a monstrous shrub, a sharp expression stamped on her face. “Behave.”

Her feet made no noise on the cracked tiles as she approached him. A limp strand of hair hung in her face and it fluttered when she spoke, “I apologize. We’re not used to visitors.”

She smiled, as if she had just remembered she was supposed to, “Can I help you?”

He opened his mouth and a flash of movement caught his eye. He glanced down in time to stop the leafy tentacle from wrapping around his ankle. His stomach heaved into his throat as he watched it retract to the safety of a table.

“Actually,” his voice came out squeaky, “I was just leaving.”

Of course, by then, it was already too late.

Zach drove with the windows rolled down, singing along with the radio and not really knowing the words. He hit a pot hole and laughed as his butt left the seat, the top of his head grazing the ceiling.

His shirt was buttoned crooked and his hair stuck out at varying angles. He combed his fingers through it, resulting in no obvious change.

He flipped on the turn signal and slowed before scooting onto the main road. The song ended and the night DJ piped up with a few scripted lines. Zach checked the rearview mirror for headlights and caught himself smiling.

That’s when he noticed the buzzing, the flap of small wings right by his ear.

His hand shot up and grabbed the puny creature. It was in his mouth and down his throat before he gave it a second thought.

Three seconds ticked by before he started gagging. His hands flew to his neck, allowing the car to drift into the other lane. A green sedan honked as it swerved to avoid him.

His hands shook on the steering wheel as he righted the car and they continued to shake until he went to bed, rather earlier than usual.

He couldn’t see the TV. The sofa’s new position beneath the window didn’t allow it. He clicked it off, a laugh track cutting off abruptly, and sipped his water.

Zach closed his eyes and let his head fall back, enjoying the warmth of the sun. The glass rose to his lips once more, a few drops dribbling down his chin.

In the kitchen, the phone rang. He sat perfectly still, listening, until it stopped. A lazy little grin appeared on his face.

The ringing started up again.

His chest ballooned with a sigh and he heaved himself up off the couch. He turned to place the cup on the end table, stalling. It slipped through his fingers, bounced against the carpet, spilling but not breaking.

A wet spot on the rug was the least of his problems.

In the place of his right arm rested a tentacle, long and smooth and green. It wriggled, stretching toward the light streaming through the glass, and the screaming began.

At first, no sound came, then as if a barrier had been broken, a noise came from his throat, high-pitched, like a teapot whistling. It warped as his head became flat and his eyes disappeared into his head. His legs fell out beneath him, curling up, useless.

The last thing that Zach Hosta heard was his doorbell ringing.

No one looked twice as she walked down the street carrying the biggest carnivorous plant any of them had ever seen. Everyone knew Linda Periwinkle was an oddball.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Favorite Book Challenge

I couldn't even imagine picking just five books as the rules state so, instead, I decided on four series.

At the end of a hallway rests a white door. Behind that white door is a purple room. In that purple room sits two bookshelves. On the top shelf of the right bookshelf rests these four series:

Harry Potter: A set of seven based around a boy wizard whose destiny it is to rescue the wizarding world from the Dark Lord Voldemort.
See this convenient link for (almost) everything I have to say on Harry Potter.
Pendragon: The journals of Bobby Pendragon chronicle his quest to save Halla (n. the entire universe) along with his fellow Travelers.
This series is just so creative; every little detail amazes me with the fact that someone (D. J. MacHale) actually thought of it. [Extra tidbit - I will be hosting a Wonderful Week for this series starting sometime in August or September]
The Hunger Games: Katniss Everdeen is launched into the Hunger Games, a tournament where twenty-four children are forced to fight to the death.
I love the concept and the emotional complexity; it makes you think.
The Mortal Instruments: Clary Fray unlocks a world of secrets when she stumbles upon the Shadowhunters, not the least of which is the truth about her father, Valentine.
This is just amusing to me; I love the dialogue and the characters (and I was rooting for Magnus and Alec to get together since the beginning).

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Prompt #24: Look, that's really cute, but it doesn't exactly go with bite marks.

            Griffin tapped the paintbrush against the side of the bowl before bringing it up to the mannequin’s neck. She contemplated, then made two dots, one more oblong than the other. She fanned the red paint with her hand, lightly blowing on it ‘til it gained the desired effect.
            An arm reached over her head and plucked a fluffy, pink hat on the figurine’s molded hair. It slipped down over the eyes, the nose catching its fall.
            Griffin pulled it off and threw it in one of the drama department’s shady corners. Her head tilted back to look Win in the face, “It clashed with the morbid feel I was going for.”
            The boy shrugged, “I for one thought it added a touch of irony.”
            She turned back to the doll, “It did, I’ll give you that, but it would have made no logical sense.”
            He slid down next to her, “Ah, how’s that?”
            She used the heel of her hand to brush away a stray hair, “Well, if you were running from a vampire, the last thing you’d be worried about was your hat.”
            Win’s upper lip twitched, settled back down.
            He kissed her forehead, narrowly avoiding blue lips, “It’s just amuses me that you can talk of logic and vampires and not bat an eye.”
            Her eyelids came down in a deliberate motion, “There, my eye has been batted. Happy now?”
            “It would appear so.”
            Griffin grunted and turned back to the mannequin, “Hand me the seam ripper?”
            He retrieved it from a pile of used brushes and placed it in her hand. She positioned it against the fabric.
            “So what happened?” Win asked casually, leaning back on his hands.
            The seam ripper slashed through the model’s shirt, “What do you mean?”
            Win tilted his head to the side, maintaining his offhand tone, “What I mean is you don’t spend after school hours on one of your dummies unless you’re upset.”
            Another rip through the figure’s skirt, “It’s nothing.”
            “The mannequin would beg to differ.”
            She set the seam ripper down, “I had a fight with Cory. That’s all.”
            The muscles in Winn’s face locked up, one by one, “Griffin.”
            “It wasn’t anything big, a little argument,” her hands knit together in her lap.
            “Griffin,” the growl in his throat intensified.
            “Nothing happened. He didn’t—”
            Win grabbed the back of her shirt, cutting her off. He rolled the fabric back and a hiss escaped his teeth. Her back resembled an abstract that, half way to completion, the artist decided was grotesque and tore to pieces.
            “Oh, Griff,” his words were soft but she jerked away and stood, pulling her shirt down.
            He stood, too, facing her across the dummy, “Why do you keep letting him do this to you?”
            “It’s none of your business,” she looked down at the wooden floorboards, tugging at her hem line.
            “None of my business? Have you even looked at your back?” His voice verged on shouting.
            She stooped down and starting piling up her paint bowls, ignoring him.
            “That’s just great. You’re going to keep on pretending that none of this is happening while that excuse for a douche bag is using you for boxing practice. Well, if that’s the way you want it then—”
            A bowl smashed against the mannequin’s plastic chest, spraying red paint across the doll’s face and clothes.
Griffin stood on her feet again, screaming, “You think I like being smacked every time I say the littlest thing wrong? You think I like being hit over and over because I can’t make it to some concert? I don’t. I hate it. And that’s why,” a trapped breath rattled in her throat, “That’s why I told him to fuck off when he called this afternoon.”
Win licked his lips, “Good for you, Griff.”
A tear spilled over the ledge of her eye. It became a waterfall as more cascaded down her cheeks. Win pulled her into his arms and she sobbed against his shoulder, soaking the cotton.
“Griffin,” he whispered when she stopped shaking.
“What?” She hiccuped.
“Can I have the mannequin?”
She looked over her shoulder and sighed, “Might as well. It won’t do me any good now.”

Cory Stevens woke that night with chills. His feet thumped to the floor and he dragged himself to the window. His arms were raised to shut it when the face on the other side registered. He nearly shit himself.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Qurious Quirks - Entry

Go here to see the rules of this blogfest.

In a wood long ago abandoned by people, there sits a castle, a castle fit for hiding princesses. On the majestic door of the castle there lies a plague of white stone. Carved into it's smooth surface is this:
"He who can answer these four questions true
Shall be ruler of this castle as is his due"

How does your character fall asleep? Do they drink warm milk, lay on their side, their back? Pass out in drunken stupors?

Cassie doesn't allow herself to fall asleep until everyone else has. She lays on her back and listens until she hears four (now five) chests rising slowly with sleep, only then will she allow herself to drop off.

How does your character sit? Do they flip chairs around, have to prop their feet up, cross their legs?

It depends on where she is. If she's at home, she'll sit cross-legged on the floor or leaned forward on a bucket or with her back against a wall. If she's at a place where she's uncomfortable, she'll sit ridged and still.

What does your character do with their feet when standing? Do they tap 'em, cross 'em, scrape 'em against the ground?

Cassie is a runner and her feet are almost never still. She will methodically tap her toes in front, to the side, to the back. The only time they aren't bouncing about is when she's actually preparing to run.

Where does your character keep their hands when walking? Do they constantly touch their face, their hair? Do they cross their arms or simply leave them at their sides?

She swings her arms when she walks. She'll slap her thighs if she's in a good mood or strut around with fists if she isn't.

You can still join in! Just leave a link to your entry in the comments.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Prompt #23

[You love him
You love him more than this
You love him, and you cannot
You can't resist.]

            She stood straight, still, the rock big enough for her feet and that was all. Her eyes were pressed closed.
            “You’ll have to choose sooner or later,” the voice carried a hint of boredom.
            Don’t look. Don’t look. Don’t look. She remained like a statue.
            “Perhaps I could help you, give you some incentive,” his tone sent a shiver down her spine. “Yes, I have the most perfect idea.”
            She waited, her breathing shallow.
            “Open your eyes.”
            Her eyelids parted a hair, allowing the view of the rocky wall in front of her. She began tracing the cracks with her mind.
            He sighed and his clothes rustled as he shifted position. “Better than nothing, I suppose, but you’re going to have to look up here.”
            She stopped at a crossing between two of the tiny fissures, took a deep breath, and craned her neck backward.
            He sat in an intricately carved chair perched on a ledge so high he could have reached up and touched the ceiling. His face set back in the shadows but the hourglass caught the light. Watching her closely, he flipped it.
            “This should give you an hour, but it could be less,” he was trying to hold back laughter.
            Her mouth fell open just as the first grain of sand hit the bottom of the hourglass. It snapped closed with the third. After the fifth, she looked down with eyes wide open.
            The great pile rising up on the right, about halfway up her lonely rock pillar, caught her attention immediately: designer clothes and purses, expensive paintings, gold plates and bed frames and rings and anything else you could think of, a pool table, what looked like a Bentley, enough money to break her fall easily.
            She wrenched her eyes away. Catch, catch, there’s always a catch.
            The stone walls on her left were covered with spikes of different lengths and sizes, cutting off that half of the pit. She peered between them, trying to glimpse the bottom. Something moved.
            “Hello?” her soft words echoed.
            More movement, and then there was a face staring at her. A scream fizzled on her lips, blocking the air from her lungs.
            “Robert?” It scratched her throat coming up.
            “Chesney, is that you?” He tried to stand up but the spikes pressed in too close, a warning.
            Her hands flew to her face, fingernails digging into her cheeks. What am I going to do? What can I do? A sob escaped her.
            “You have about half your time left,” excitement bubbled through his words.
            She glanced up at the hourglass and began to rock, her eyes going from left to right.
            All I have to do is choose one. Jump into it and that’s it. Robert reached up, grasped a spike, pulled away with a wince. That’s it.
            “Did I mention what happens if time runs out? No? Well, I was thinking of adding on a third choice, maybe housewife to a slub, and it’ll no longer be a choice because you’ll be forced to take it. Of course, that’s only if you run out of time,” he began to hum.
            Take the money. You’d be dead before you got to Robert anyway. She shoved the thought away, her eyes focused on the sand slipping through the hourglass.
            Tears welled up in her eyes and her bottom lip began to bleed between her teeth. She sunk to her knees, her feet dangling over the edge.
            Hardly any sand remained in the top of the timer.
            It’s the logical thing to do.
            Her eyes met Robert’s and he nodded, a sad smile on his face.
            Just do it already!
            The last grain fell and Chesney lunged.
            She landed on the cavern floor as if she had merely taken a step. She ran her hands over her stomach in amazement, not a scratch. Then she looked around for Robert. The pit was empty, even the spikes gone. A line appeared between her eyebrows.
            “You made a good choice, dear.”
            She gaped in horror as Robert stood up from the throne and tucked the hourglass inside his coat.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Aren't You Just a Little Qurious?

This is a reminder to sign up for my Qurious Quirks blogfest. There are only five days left to do so and then the fun will begin. You wouldn't want to miss out.

For all the details, go here.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Second Summer in the City

Summer is great. It's always hot (hence, never cold), I don't have to get up early, and even though Lizzie's gone (because she hates me!) my friends and I have plenty of fun. It's my favorite season.

Unfortunately, it's also my most unproductive one.

In the book No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty, he lists lessons he has learned through his many years of NaNoWriMo. Number Two on that list states: Being Busy is Good for Your Writing (pg. 16). I am woefully not busy during the summer and it flashes by before I can get anything done.

This summer, I pledge to get things done. I pledge that this summer will not be wasted. I pledge that the following goals; Will. Be. Met.

Writing Related
  1. The Lullaby rewrite will be completed.  This is a big one because this was scheduled to happen last summer. Did I mention summers are very unproductive for me?
  2. Thinking of You story line revisions will be completed. Previously, I had this put off until July but I may start work on it sooner.
  3. Royally Burned and the untitled princess clone story will be plotted out accordingly. I attempted to start Royally Burned this month and it just wasn't grasping me. This happened with Forever, Frog as well. All due to lack of planning. I am not going to let this happen again.
Reading Related
  1. All unread books will have their status reversed. I have over one hundred books that I have yet to read. Good thing I'm a fast reader.
  2. I will host two more Wonderful Weeks. For sure I will be doing one on the Left Behind series. The other is undecided, though I have a few ideas.
Nerd Related (you so saw that coming)
  1. Pokemon versions FireRed, Emerald, and Platinum will be completed so I can start HeartGold. Google is your friend.
  2. The Wii Fit Plus will be used as a tool to gain muscle. Simply explained, because I have none. XD

Friday, June 03, 2011

Prompt #22

[I remember.
I wish I didn't remember.
Maybe if I wish hard enough, the memories will just fall away. Like the smell of old perfume dissipating. Like the innocence of white chalk darkening under the rain. Like the dying color of that crimson blood as he washed it from my hands.]

            They want to hear my story; that’s what they said. I laughed the first time, told them I was going to be gone soon, but it didn’t work out that way. The second time, I told them they were monsters to want to hear it, hear all the bloody details. Third time, though, I gave in because I had a feeling I had to.
            I’ll start out with a fact, a fact that a lot of stories start with. It was raining, which meant Michelle was whimpering and crying on about her chalk drawings. She had her face pressed against the window, watching as the white lines turned darker and darker until they weren’t there anymore.
            Mimi stood beside her, the bags of loose skin wobbling as she complained about how she would miss her date and how dare I even suggest that the old coot wasn’t worth seeing. She barked at me to turn the TV down every few seconds and every time I only turned it up.
            I don’t know which of the sounds caused it, or if it was a mixture.
            I raised the remote and clicked the power button; black flashed across the screen. Neither one of them noticed, in fact, Mimi commanded me to lower the volume once more. Her hearing aid must have been acting up again.
            The rain covered up the sound of my feet struggling through the shag carpeting as I walked down the hallway. Wind rocked our little trailer house, the floor tilting ever so slightly.
I paused in the doorway to Mimi’s room, staring through the window glass at the trees in the yard, their branches spinning wild, their trunks bending. Michelle would have said, complete with lisp, that the trees were simply complimenting each other’s new hair-dos. I wonder if that’s what she would say now.
A beam from a street light was the only guidance I needed to get across the room to the dresser. The top drawer squeaked, like it always had, but I was certain it wouldn’t be heard. My nails scraped against the rotting wood, a horrible feeling, as I stretched my hand to the back. I brushed against cold metal and wrenched the gun from its home of lacy granny panties.
I held it up, revolved it, rememorized the glare from every angle. I set my finger on the trigger and admired the fit. Then I found myself staring down the barrel, telling myself I could see the bullet, nestled in its iron house.
Maybe if I had pulled the trigger then, instead of waiting, none of this would have happened.
Instead, I fought my way back down the hallway into the living room, settling into the couch. The fabric formed to the familiar curve of my backside instantly.
 Mimi jerked away from the window, her face pinched, “I thought I told you to turn that damn TV down.” Her mouth snapped closed, her chin flab wobbling, when her eyes caught sight of the rifle snuggled up in my lap.
The skin on my face stretched, revealing my teeth in a bad impression of a smile, as I pointed it at her. Her beady eyes sunk an inch into her head and the skin around them shrunk to her skull, a skeleton a few seconds premature.
Michelle screamed, chunky hands pressed over her ears, staring down at what had once been my grandmother. She screamed louder when she saw me, serene puffs of smoke drifting from the gun. I quickly put a stop to that.
The neighborhood dogs were yipping and howling and barking when I pressed the hot metal to my chest. It seared a hole through the threadbare cotton of my shirt, allowing a ghastly stench to penetrate the sickly aroma of Mimi’s perfume. Too bad I ruined it for nothing.
            The prosecuting attorney looked over the top of her glasses at the jury when she finished reading. She waved the copy of my statement to punctuate her sentences. I rubbed my hands along the armrests of my wheelchair, waiting for her to finish.
            And then everyone was staring at me.
            “I’m sorry. Could you repeat the question, please?”
            A piece of hair had slipped out of her bun. She tucked it behind her ear and then repeated slowly, “Do you have anything to say for yourself, Mr. Cragen?”
            I shook my head.
            “No further questions.”
            The bailiff wheeled me back to my side of the courtroom as the jury filed out. I looked up at the lawyer who the state had hired to defend me and asked, “Do you think I’ll be lucky enough to be killed in prison?”

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Prompt #21: There's only so much you can account for while doing dead man floats on the shallow end of the kiddy pool.

            Overlook of scene.
            The pool is a blue bean with a diving board hanging over one end. One boy floats on his back, eyes closed, chest rising and falling.
            The other boy is drowning.

            I don’t know.
            I don’t know why I didn’t hear him struggle. I don’t know how I missed his cries for help. I don’t know why he did it.
            I tell Momma every time she yells, yell it at her when she asks over and over.
            I don’t know.

            Zoom in on a big, living room window.
            The man and woman of the house are sitting on the solitary sofa. He sits straight, stiff with good posture. She sits hunched, elbows on knees, hands on face.
            The boy cowers in the corner, cradling his cheek, and crying.

            He didn’t know how to swim. Not that good.
            He didn’t know how to swim. And he jumped in the deep end.
            Because I laughed when he wouldn’t, with the life jacket on.

            Black screen. Voice fades in, screaming.
            “This is all your fault. If you had thought, he would be here. Instead, my baby’s gone.”
            Crying starts.
            Same voice, but softer.             
            “Mommy’s sorry. I didn’t mean it. It hurts so bad, honey, and it’s messing with Mommy’s head.”

            The walls in our house are thin, but at night they grow thinner.
            At night, I can hear Momma’s tears hitting the pillow.
            At night, I can hear Daddy set his glass on the table.
            At night, I can hear floorboards creak in his room.
            And earplugs don’t help.

            Shot angle from the doorway, at nine year old height.
            The woman from before is seated on a bar stool, talking on the phone. Black bags are evident under her eyes and there are a few more lines on her face.
            Her voice is tired and strained, “You’re the fourth pastor I’ve called. Yes, I would like that number. Thank you.”
            She sets the phone back on its cradle, picks it up, dials.

            It’s not possible.
            It’s not possible that it’s only been two days. It’s not possible that I used to smile, to laugh. It’s not possible that Momma ever loved me.
            It’s not possible he’s gone.
            But the biggest not possible running through my head as I stand in the bathroom is:
            It’s not possible someone threw away his toothbrush.
            It’s just not possible.

            Camera set at ground level.
            The boy is lying on the grass, the giant oak overshadowing his face. He stares up into the tree’s branches not moving.
            A voice calls, “Do you want to come over?”
            Zoom out.
            Another boy is leaning over the backyard fence.
            “No,” he keeps staring, doesn’t move.
            Close up on other boy.
            His shoulders sag but he just nods, “Okay.”
            Camera follows him back to his house.
            His mother turns at the backdoor’s creak. “How did it go?”
            He replies on the way up the stairs, “I’m not going to ask him anymore. He’s never going to say yes.”

            What I expect when I lean over his marker:
            I expect to see Thomas Gilmore.
            It’s not what I expected.

            Screen is fuzzy at first, then snaps into focus.
            The headstone reads:
Jake Gilmore
January 18th, 1997 - June 26th, 2009
A young boy who gave his life for another.


whatever you call it
it's still

red clothes
red skin
red sidewalk
the only not-red thing,
her green nails I painted

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Qurious Quirks Blogfest

Everyone has a different way of connecting with their characters, of making them lifelike and believable. Some use an interview technique that's almost like a conversation, some answer endless surveys, and some just write. But for any of these to work, we must ask ourselves: What breathes life into a character? What makes people believe they're real?

Of course, we all start with the basics: name, age (if only relatively), gender. Then we move on to deeper things, like family, backstory, likes, dislikes, personality, relationships. Now, you have what may resemble an inflated stick figure.

What more can there be? You ask.

The title of the blogfest says it all. Quirks, gestures, those little things that make people individuals, are what make characters come alive in the reader's mind. Think about a good book you've read recently, one where you really related to the characters. Now picture one of those characters doing something, say talking. Are they standing perfectly still while they speak?

I didn't think so.

And that's what this blogfest is all about. If you're a little qurious, instructions are provided below.
  1. Sign up in the Linky. You do not have to be a follower to participate nor do you have to post the badge on your blog. However, both would be appreciated.
  2. On June 15th, post questions or a small writing prompt relating to quirks on your blog and challenge others to answer in the comments. You must accept your own challenge. You can answer using one of your characters, someone you know in real life, or yourself.
  3. Go to at least two other blogs and accept their challenges. I will repost the Linky at the end of my own blogfest entry on June 15th.