Image Prompt Response 073 – Winter Holidays


I chose the image of the snow-covered tree for my twenty-minute sprint this time.

Winter Holidays:

Carl shivered as he slid out of bed, pushing his feet into his slippers and making his way to the window.  It had only just begun to snow when they were turning in last night, but now there was a couple feet of the stuff.  The big pine out back was so weighed down with snow that some of the branches were partially buried in the drifts.

It was beautiful, the pristine sparkling whiteness in the early morning light.

It was also a royal pain because he’d have to shovel enough to get the truck out of the driveway and pray that the plows came through sometime before noon so they’d be able to get out of the neighborhood.  He knew they should have left yesterday.

Sighing, Carl headed for the kitchen to get the coffee brewing and breakfast started.  That almost always woke everyone else up, luring them with the scent of caffeine and bacon.

Sam was the first one down, their hair sticking up every which way as they rubbed their eyes and sat down at the table.

Carl had already set out the sugar and cream along with four mugs, so when the coffee was done brewing he brought the pot to the table.  Sam could be trusted to pour coffee without being fully awake, but not to carry it across a room.  They had an agreement about it.  Two broken carafes, two cuts that needed stitches, and one third degree burn had been more than enough.

By the time Sam had finished fixing a mug of coffee for themself as well as Carl, Valerie was wandering in.  Her hair was brushed and gleaming and her pajamas were cute and coordinated.  She was a bit of a fashion diva and Carl still didn’t quite understand why she wanted to live in the middle of nowhere on the top of a mountain, but she was a good roommate, so he wasn’t about to suggest she leave.

Carl was done putting breakfast on plates by the time Kelly came down, scratching the stubble on his head and yawning.

“It looks like getting out might be an issue,” Valerie said as they all sat down at the table together.

“I didn’t look outside,” Kelly said as he fixed his coffee.

“We got two, maybe three feet,” Carl replied.  “I haven’t checked yet.”

“Weather ap said thirty-four inches,” Valerie said.  “But we sometimes get more than where they measure.”

“I’ll check after breakfast,” Carl replied.  They didn’t have a very scientific methodology, since drifting could happen, but they had a pole near the front porch that was marked every inch so they could know how much snow they’d gotten.  Carl had put it in two years ago and just never pulled it back out.  It was in one of the mulched areas, so it wasn’t even in the way when they had to mow the lawn.

“To be perfectly honest, I’m planning to use the snow as an excuse not to go,” Sam said.

“Have they been that bad?” Carl asked.  Sam’s family wasn’t supportive of the non-binary thing, or Sam’s career as an artist, so Carl understood why Sam might not want to go home for the holidays.

“My brother has been in one of his evangelical moods this month,” Sam replied.

“Ouch,” Valerie said, reaching over to pat Sam’s hand.

Sam’s brother was a preacher at a non-denominational church a few hours south near where Sam’s family lived.  It was a huge place and very hellfire and brimstone from what Sam had said.

“It is what it is,” Sam said with a shrug.  “If anyone in the family asks I’ll tell them you left earlier and that’s why only I got trapped.  I know my brother stalks you guys on social media.”

“If we got more than three feet, I’m not sure any of us are going anywhere,” Carl replied.

“My parents are actively encouraging me to stay home,” Valerie said.  “They don’t even want me on a train in this apparently.  It’s been even worse west of us and I haven’t even checked to see if there are train delays.”

Carl nodded.  The original plan had been for Carl to get everyone off the mountain in his truck.  Valerie was taking the train home, Sam had left his car in the Walmart parking lot earlier in the week, and Kelly was catching a ride with a friend in town.

They were quiet during the rest of breakfast, and Kelly was actually the first one to get up, taking his coffee with him as he went into the front room.  They could all hear the door opening.

Carl shivered just thinking about how cold it must have been standing in the doorway with just the storm door for insulation.

“Well, I think we’re staying home,” Kelly said before shutting the door.  “The pole’s actually in a bit of a dip and it reads forty-two inches.”

“Damn,” Carl said.  That was a lot of snow to get in a single night.

“I like you lot better than my family anyway,” Sam said, toasting them with his coffee mug.

“I can do a video chat with my parents on Yule,” Valerie said.  “It’ll be fine.”

“No worries,” Kelly said, patting Carl on the shoulder.  “You did tell us we should have made arrangements to get off the mountain yesterday.”

“It’ll be nice to spend the holidays at home,” Carl said.  He loved his family, but they were a lot.  He was only going to have made the last few days of Hanukkah anyway.  Now he could share traditions with his roommates.  Valerie and her parents were pagan and celebrated Yule, Carl still wasn’t sure how devout Kelly was but he did celebrate Christmas, Carl was Jewish, and Sam gave everyone gifts that they called Winter Wishes, since they wanted to celebrate and share the joy of holidays with everyone but didn’t actually have a winter holiday to celebrate.  It would be neat to have so many different traditions all happening in the same house.

Collective Story Telling


I’ve talked about my very first role-playing group on the blog before and how important they have been to my writing journey.  I have a group of friends, most of them fellow fiction writers, who I play Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) with every other week.  We’ve been playing for a couple years now.  We all met through NaNoWriMo, and the woman who wanted to try out being a DM (that’s a Dungeon Master, who runs the game) mentioned at a write-in that she had trouble finding players.  Most of the write-in attendees were interested, and some of us brought a friend or spouse, so that’s how the original group got started.  It was nine players originally, which was way too large, especially for two or two and a half hour sessions on a weeknight.

She broke us into two groups and we went off in different directions in search of answers to the same mystery.  She brought us all back together for an epic battle at the end on a Saturday afternoon.  Over all it was an incredibly fun game.  She ran another game with a smaller total number of players (max 6) so my husband and I volunteered to step back and not play that one.  Partially because I couldn’t play every week, and I liked the Adventure Guild idea we were talking about for off-weeks better. Continue reading

Image Prompt 036 Response: Melon Pope and College Friends


I chose the image of the impromptu sculpture at a wedding for my twenty-minute sprint.


Melon Pope and College Friends:

Jacob leaned back in his chair and smiled as he watched his friends having a blast on the dance floor.  It had been months since they’d all seen each other, and he’d enjoyed the chance to talk over dinner and before the wedding.  He’d managed to twist his ankle hiking two weeks before, so dancing wasn’t in the cards tonight, but the music was good, and everyone was having a good time.

“You aren’t getting all maudlin over here by yourself are you?” Kyle asked as he settled in the seat beside Jacob. Continue reading

The Hands that Mold: Mathew


For those new to my blog, the Hands that Mold series of posts is about the people in my life that have helped shape me into the writer I am today.

This post is about Mathew.

If you’ve been reading for a while, you might remember me mentioning Matt before.  He was part of my very first Role Playing Game (RPG) group, which I talked about in a previous The Hand that Mold post.  You might also remember him if you’ve read my book.  This is the Mathew that I mention in the dedications and by the end of this post you’ll have a better idea of why I plan to dedicate each and every book to him. Continue reading

The Hands that Mold: Manda


For those new to my blog, the Hands that Mold series of posts is about the people in my life that have helped shape me into the writer I am today.

This post is about Manda.

I met Manda when I was in graduate school. I was working on an MA in English at the time. Her husband was in my program, and started the semester after me. We met on Halloween at the English Grad Student gathering to celebrate the holiday by dressing up and going bar hopping.

I don’t usually drink, especially out in public, because I can get really flirty and don’t much care who I’m flirting with, which isn’t necessarily the safest situation in the world. So before we left for the bars, I warned Manda and her husband that I might end up flirting with Manda that night, because I flirted when I drank, and I tended to flirt with girls because it was safer for me, especially if they were girls in the group I was with.

I made quite the first impression, huh? Continue reading

The Hands that Mold: My First RPG Group


For those new to my blog, the Hands that Mold series of posts is about the people in my life that have helped shape me into the writer I am today.

This post is about my very first RPG group. (That’s Role Playing Game group for the non-Geek among you.)

I met them when I was a sophomore in high school. Half of them were members of the marching band, like I was, so I knew them by sight before school even started. It wasn’t for another six months, in December, that I actually got to know most of them.

I’d spent most of the past six months depressed, because we’d just moved and I had no friends yet. So when a fellow flute player (we’ll call her “T” for the purposes of this discussion) asked me to come to her house after school to play a role playing game with her brother and his friends, I happily accepted. I might finally have made a friend at school, and she was inviting me to meet her other friends. Continue reading