Image Prompt 060 Response – Familiar

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I chose the picture of my black cat, Locke, looking out the kitchen window for my story prompt this week.  This is the product of a twenty-minute sprint and a quick copy-edit.

Familiar:

Midnight had her paws up on the kitchen windowsill so she could see outside.  Amanda smiled as she got out of the car and saw her familiar watching for her arrival.  She hurried to grab the bags out of the trunk but walked carefully up the steps.  It had snowed again today and she needed to clear them off again, maybe put down some more salt to keep things from getting slippery.

Amanda unlocked the door and pushed it open.

“Hello my lovely,” she greeted Midnight, who was now sitting on the counter right beside the front door.

Midnight meowed happily, brushing her head against Amanda’s arm since her hands were full.

Amanda chuckled and set her bags down, petting Midnight with one hand as she closed and locked the door.  “All’s well?” she asked.

“No callers or intruders,” Midnight informed her.

“Good,” Amanda replied, stroking Midnight one more time before turning to deal with her bags.  “I’m glad no one bothered you today.”  Some days there would be salesmen, or someone looking to hire Amanda would find out where she lived.  She didn’t like when they came to her home and bothered Midnight while she was gone.

It only took a few moments for Amanda to put away the groceries she’d picked up on the way home, and set her work bag and her little backpack by her desk in the second bedroom.  She came back to settle on the couch and Midnight jumped up to sit beside her.

Amanda stroked Midnight’s soft fur and sighed happily, relaxing into the cushions.  It was good to be home.  She missed Midnight on days she couldn’t take her familiar with her.  Some clients just didn’t understand the bond between a witch and her familiar, so they requested she leave the cat at home, like it was just some kind of pet.  At least this job had only taken a couple days and was close enough she could come home each night.

Sitting here with Midnight beside her again, Amanda could finally relax.  It was stressful on both of them when she was away.  Maybe she’d stop taking jobs that asked her to leave Midnight behind.  She could change her contract, make it state that Midnight was to be allowed to accompany her for all portions of her work instead of having a question asking if Midnight could accompany her.  Work was pretty steady now, unlike when she’d first started out.  She didn’t have to take every job she was offered just to make ends meet.

Amanda looked out the back window, watching snow begin to fall again, the swirls of snowflakes lit by the streetlamps.  The world was hushed and quiet now that night had fallen, the blanket of snow muting any sound there might have been.

“Tomorrow we leave for the next job,” Amanda said softly.

“We’re helping someone ward their home, correct?” Midnight asked.

“Yes,” Amanda replied.  “A very nice family,” she added.  They’d been very gracious about the entire thing.  They’d even asked if they needed to keep their own cat sequestered while she was there.  It was rare for anyone to even think to ask about things like that.  It was much more common for a client to ask her to keep Midnight sequestered or on a leash or something equally ridiculous.  Midnight would be at her side where she belonged.  “I think you’ll like them,” Amanda told Midnight.  “And if you’re feeling frisky, they have a cat you might be able to entice to play.”

“That would be nice,” Midnight replied, nuzzling Amanda’s leg.  “It’s been a while since I had a chance to play with another feline.”

Amanda smiled.  She’d amend her contract.  There was no reason to be so accommodating of those who didn’t understand her bond to her familiar.  If they wanted her services, they’d just have to accept that Midnight came too.

Image Prompt 060 – Cat in the Window and Irish Monastery’s Cemetery

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It’s the Second Friday of the Month, so today is an Image Prompt day.

I’ve included two images to work from.  Pick one (or both if you’re feeling ambitious) and write something inspired by the image.  You can use something in the image, the feeling it invokes, or whatever the image makes you think of.

If you write a piece and end up posting it somewhere online, please link back to it here on a comment so we can all enjoy it too.

I’ll be posting my own piece next week.

Image Prompt 060-001 - Locke November 2008 010

Image Prompt 060-002 - Shamrocker Tour05-04-24 026

Where I am From: 2020 Edition

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Happy New Year to all my readers.

This is my yearly version of the “Where I’m From” poem prompt.  You can find my original prompt here and the versions from 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.  If anyone else wants to try their hand at the poem prompt, I’d love to read your results, so feel free to leave a comment.

Where I’m From

I am from a wood-toned TV tray, from a Kitchen Aid stand mixer and plastic storage bins.

I am from the two-bedroom, cave-like, poorly-lit, half-basement, apartment with the bookcase wall and the box-filled office/crafting room.

I am from the deep pink Christmas cactus, the philodendron in the pot with bubbling paint.

I am from steak on Thanksgiving and unruly hair, from Catherine Cameron and Jane Elizabeth and Kenneth Hadyn.

I am from the collecting of postcards and the making of family photo calendars.

From watch where you’re going and don’t read after bed time.

I am from stained glass windows, sacred groves, thuribles, solitary altars, and wooden crosses.  From simple wooden buildings, rich fabrics, and everyone welcome at the table.  From silent nights contemplating the moon, solitary practice, and the universal divine.

I’m from Monroeville and Scotland, Scotcheroos and pumpkin rolls.

From the night it didn’t occur to me to get off the crib mattress on the floor, the crying I did wishing my mother would come, and the fondness my mother always shows when she tells the story.

I am from Shutterfly sites, plastic bins of honeymoon keepsakes, shelves full of books passed down through the family, files upon files on hard drives, and collections on shelves in closets.

From the memories that they invoke, the feelings they bring, and the people they bring to mind.

From stories, pictures, postcards, trinkets, and shared experiences.

Holiday Adventures

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I had every intention of doing a year in review post and looking back and how my habit tracking went, how much writing I’ve gotten accomplished, and what I have planned for the new year.  And then my holiday trip got a bit complicated, so the time to work on this post was devoted to other things.

My family lives about three hours away (in two directions, but we meet up at my sister’s place since my parents are only about an hour from her).  My partner’s family lives a little less than two hours further south from my sister’s.  So we visit both of them during the holiday season.  This year we also have a pair of friends getting married (tomorrow), so we had to be back home by Thursday night since my partner is the best man and thus has to be at the rehearsal today.

We had this all planned out.  One day of travel, two days at my sisters, one day of travel, two days at his parents, and then a day to travel home.  We were going to be relaxed and not stress the timing on travel days to make sure we didn’t exhaust ourselves.

And then our car wouldn’t start the day we were supposed to leave my sisters on Monday.  My brother-in-law changed our alternator and helped make sure we had a good battery.  Still wouldn’t start.  So we spent another night at my sister’s.  Thankfully she has extra guest rooms since brother-in-law’s parents had arrived that day.

The next day my partner’s parents drove up to get us and we had our car towed to their mechanic eighty-four miles south.  Thankfully we have the free 100 miles of towing package with AAA.  We had Christmas with them and then went for Christmas dinner at his aunt and uncles to see one grandmother and stopped to see the other on the way home.  We tried to relax and not worry about the car with some success.

The starter was bad on the car, which had likely fried both the battery and the alternator, so at least the work my BIL did saved us some money on repairs.  We got the car back and everything loaded into it at about 4:30pm.  We had a five-hour trip to get home, plus stopping at my sister’s on the way past to pick up the larger Christmas presents we hadn’t wanted to haul back and forth with us.

We made it home Thursday as planned, but considerably later in the day than originally anticipated.  This was thanks in large part to all our family who helped out and made sure we could get where we needed to be and had the funds for all the repairs and I couldn’t be more grateful to all of them.

I hope your holidays were as filled with family and love and support, and much less with car trouble and travel delays.  Here’s to families and getting to spend quality time with them at the holidays.  I’ll see you all in the new year.

Image Prompt 059 Response – 3 a.m.

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I chose the picture of my apartment in grad school for this week’s writing prompt.  The usual twenty-minute sprint plus some copy editing.  I hope you enjoy.

3 a.m.

Kelly started awake, sitting up in her bed, heart pounding.  She looked around, wondering what had woken her up.  She jumped again when someone pounded on her apartment door.

Grabbing her robe from the chair beside the bed, she slid out from under the covers and pulled it on, shivering as she crossed the room in her bare feet.  It was winter and her electric baseboards just couldn’t keep up with how cold it got here.

She crept to the door, managing not to jump when someone pounded on it again.

She paused beside it, not sure if she should push the curtain aside to look out or just ignore them.

The pounding came again, a little quieter this time.

“Come on,” she heard a muffled voice say.  “You have to be home.”

Kelly reached up and pushed the curtain aside a little, keeping herself a bit back and to the side so she wouldn’t be clearly visible from outside.

There was just enough light from the streetlight at the corner for her to make out Mark’s features.  She hadn’t seen him in six months.  Not since she moved out of the house she’d shared with him, his sister, and their cousin.  She flipped on the light and reached to unlock the door.

“What the hell?” Kelly asked as she opened the door.

Mark had one hand braced on the doorframe and the other was raised like he was going to bang on the door again.

“You’ve got to let me in and close the door,” Mark said quickly, glancing over his shoulder.  “I promise I’ll explain.”

“Come in,” Kelly said, stepping back.  She watched behind Mark too.  He wasn’t the nervous type.

“Thank you,” Mark said, hurrying past her.

She closed the door, flipping the bolt out of habit.  “So what’s going on?” Kelly asked, glancing at her microwave.  “It’s three in the morning.”

“I think Melody’s dead, and Veronica tried to kill me.”

“What?” Kelly said, taking a step back and bumping into the door.

“I don’t know for sure about Melody,” Mark said quickly.  “She could have gone home to see our parents, but her room was a mess and there was all this sticky stuff splattered everywhere and I think it might have been blood.”

“Did you call the police?” Kelly asked.  When you couldn’t find your sibling and though there was blood in their room, you called the police.

“No, I ran,” Mark said.  “I got home late and I just poked my head in to see if she was there, and I didn’t even have time to decide what I though the sticky stuff was before Veronica showed up.  She was crazy.  She kept trying to grab me and she was talking nonsense, so I ran back out to my car.  She ran after the damned car.  I’ve never seen her run when she wasn’t being chased.”

“Okay, slow down,” Kelly said, taking a deep breath.  “You need to explain everything in order and you need to include all the details.  Why don’t you sit down?”  Kelly pulled the chair over from her table, putting it facing her desk and then sat in her desk chair.

Mark sat down, taking a few deep breaths.  He was still in his work clothes, black slacks and a polo with the restaurant logo on the breast.

“Start at the beginning, and go slowly,” Kelly urged him.  Then she sat back and listened.

Mark told her about getting out late because of a huge party in the private room.  He hadn’t even turned on the lights coming through the house, but he’s gone to check on his sister.  She was usually still up at two in the morning.  He’d noticed how much of a wreck her room was and turned on the light.  It looked like someone had torn through the place looking for something and maybe had a brawl while they were at it.  And there were drops and splatters of something dark reddish brown that were tacky when he touched one.

That’s when Veronica had shown up.  She’d yelled at him for being in Melody’s room.  He’d said Melody didn’t mind, and asked what happened.  Veronica wouldn’t answer any of his questions.  She kept saying that Melody had stolen from her and Veronica hadn’t meant to do anything, just get it back, but then Melody opened it and she tried to grab it and it was everywhere now.  Mark had tried to back away but Veronica grabbed him, her grip tight on his wrist.  He held it up to show her the red mark that said he’d have a bruise by morning.

“And her eyes seemed to glow in the dark,” Mark said.  “I was freaked out, so I ran.”

Kelly sighed.  “Mark, I think I know what happened, or at least part of it.”

“What?” Mark asked, looking so eager for an answer.

“Veronica got infected, and they gave her a supply of blood in case the craving hit when she was home.  It’s pretty typical.  My guess is Melody took her supply.  I have no idea why.  The blood you saw all over the room was from the supply that Melody opened and Veronica fought to get back.”

“Infected?  You think Veronica’s a vampire?” Mark asked, his eyes getting really big.

“It would explain how she could hold you so tight it’s going to bruise, and her chasing after you.”

“Am I safe here?  Have I put you in danger?”

“Vampires are only dangerous if they aren’t getting proper meals,” Kelly explained.  “I’m majoring is Preternatural Biology, remember?”

“But what about Melody?” Mark asked.

“Did you call her yet?” Kelly asked.

“Shit, I was too freaked to even think to,” he said, pulling out his phone.

Kelly sighed.  This was probably some weird family dispute or Melody freaking out about Veronica getting infected.  Hopefully she would answer and then Mark could go home and Kelly could get back to sleep.

Image Prompt 059 – Grad School Apartment & Stonehenge

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It’s the Second Friday of the Month, so today is an Image Prompt day.

I’ve included two images to work from.  Pick one (or both if you’re feeling ambitious) and write something inspired by the image.  You can use something in the image, the feeling it invokes, or whatever the image makes you think of.

If you write a piece and end up posting it somewhere online, please link back to it here on a comment so we can all enjoy it too.

I’ll be posting my own piece next week.

2019-12-13 Image Prompt 059-01 Apartment 07-03-29 004

2019-12-13 Image Prompt 059-02 Day One 05-05-09 012

NaNoWriMo 2019: November In Review

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It was a very crazy November this year, which I’ve already talked about a little, so in today’s reflection on NaNoWriMo 2019, I’m going to focus more on my story, and the experiment with plotting, and how I feel that went.

I went into November with an outline.  This has never happened before.  I’m that writer in the region who is famous for picking out their idea on Halloween, or starting over three times when the story isn’t working.  In light of that, I think I did pretty well with trying to follow my outline.

I originally outlined two interacting main plots, but then abandoned one when I couldn’t think of anything interesting to do with setbacks.  So it turned into a fairly straightforward friends-to-lovers kind of romance.  I even wrote most of the major beats that were in the outline.  I’m not at all sure it works as a whole story though, and I randomly introduced a potential antagonistic ex in a sprint, so I’ve been playing around with that as a way to extend the book and be the problem my couple is dealing with.  And maybe that will lead to the outing of my dragon (as a dragon) and that will be the big problem climax issue they have to deal with.

I should probably read what I have before I make those decisions.

I did some other prep in addition to my outline, mostly in the form of free-writing about the idea, characters, and potential plot.  The character development went quite well.  I knew them both fairly well before I started writing, and that always makes things easier.  I definitely want to continue doing that part of the planning process moving forward.

The outline I feel a little more ambivalent about.  It might have helped if I consulted it more often (or at all in the second half of the month).  The whole point of writing down the outline was so I had a guide.  I think maybe I just need to make sure it’s digital next time.  I’m not great about consulting paper notes for my story anymore.  I do almost everything on my computer these days.

Having the outline digital would also let me make adjustments as I go, so if I take off on a tangent I can decide if that changes all the things after, or if it’s just a new side-plot.  I have no idea if that would actually help, but I like the idea of the outline being more malleable and changeable if I need it to be.

I think the experiment was enough of a success that I should keep trying out ways to be a planner.  I expect I wrote far fewer scenes that are completely unnecessary this year compared to past Novembers.  There are definitely scenes I need to cut though, and scenes to shorten, rearrange, or expand.  I’m never going to get it so close to right on the first pass that I don’t need to do all those editing tasks.  But maybe, just maybe, this book will require less rewriting and revision than book 2, which has been through quite a lot over the years.  That will be back on my to-do list in January when I have time again.

If you participated in NaNoWriMo this year, how was it?  Did you try anything new?  Or was it NaNo as usual for you?