Image Prompt 064 – Plans for the Winter


I chose the image of the shop at the Carolina Renaissance Festival for my sprint this week.  It started out as the usual twenty-minutes, but then the idea sort of got away from me, so this is a bit longer than usual, and might be the spark of a new book idea.  We’ll see how that part goes.

Plans for the Winter:

Garret double checked the displays one last time as he heard the opening cannon fire from the front of the festival grounds.  It was the last day of the renaissance festival as well as the last day of the season.  It had been a pretty good year.  The shop had done well at all the fairs and festivals they’d gone to, and there hadn’t been any extra health issues for his mom.

“Do we need to pull out anything from the back?” his mother asked as she came in from sweeping the porch of the little house their shop was set up in.

“I think we’ll be good until lunch,” Garret replied.  They didn’t usually get quite as many customers on the last few days.  Folks tended to save up for the bigger items on final day when vendors would sometimes give additional discounts.  Garret and his mother sold jewelry and a few little decorative things, so they usually did more sales at the beginning.

Garrett heard boots on the porch, so he made sure he had his hat on and a smile on his face.

“Good mornin’” came a cheery male voice Garret recognized.

“Good morning to ya,” his mother replied, smiling brightly at Toby, one of the festivals most loved performers.

“Morning,” Garret said softly.  Toby was everything Garret had wanted to be back in high school.  Tall, handsome, outgoing, and popular.  Garret was just glad he’d figured out he didn’t actually want to be most of those things before it was too late.

“How fair things with my favorite jewelers?” Toby asked.

“Lovely,” Garret’s mother replied, laughing.  Even she knew Toby called everyone his favorite.  “How was the crowd this morning?”

“Boisterous,” Toby replied.  “And it was a good size, too,” he added.  “Have you decided where to winter yet?”

“We’ve got it down to a couple places,” she replied.

“Still thinking about Georgia?” Toby asked.

“It’s on the list.”

“It’s a good place to winter,” Toby replied, glancing over at Garret.  “I can tell you all about the good places.”

Garret just raised an eyebrow.  Toby was nice to everyone, and friendly with everyone, but they’d never interacted much outside the festival.  From what Garret heard, Toby was often out late partying with the other performers or various vendors.  Garret wasn’t usually invited along, not that he’d have gone if they had asked him.

“My people are in Georgia,” Toby said, his southern accent slipping out over the ye olde style of speech everyone affected for the festival.

“I’ll have to chat with you about the place we’re looking at,” Garret’s mother said.  “But I’m guessing you don’t have time for that now.  Your shows start early don’t they?”

“That they do, my lady,” Toby said, sweeping an elaborate bow in her direction.  “I’ll be sure to find you after closing tonight.”

Garret’s mother just laughed and waved as Toby made his exit.  “He’s a nice young man,” she said to Garret.

Garret just shrugged.  Nice didn’t usually have much to do with it.  And Toby had been looking at him a little more intently than Garret liked.


It had been a great day.  The shop was practically bare.  They’d gotten a rush in the morning, so Garret had hauled in all their extra stock to fill the displays back up a bit before lunch.  Things had remained steady after that, and there wasn’t much to pack up now that the festival was officially over.

“Why don’t you work on the exterior things since there’s so little to pack up,” his mother suggested.  “We’ll just get in each other’s way in this little space.”

“Alright,” Garret agreed, stepping out onto the porch.  They brought their own signage and a few extra decorations for the house, so he worked on pulling those down, setting them on the table just inside the door.

“Packing up already?” someone asked from behind Garret.

He turned to find Toby standing there, his signature feathered hat held in his hand and his tunic unlaced and hanging open over his loose shirt.  He’d completely dropped the ye olde accent he used during the festival, so Garret hadn’t recognized his voice right away.

“We always start packing up right away.  Usually stop when it gets dark.”  It wasn’t worth the risk of injuries tripping over something, especially carrying any of the merchandise.

“Want some help?” Toby asked.  His southern accent was really thick and Garret wondered if it was authentic, or if Toby played it up like he did the ye olde one.

“Sure,” Garret replied.  Extra hands were almost always helpful.  “You have anything ready to haul back to the trailer?” Garret asked his mother through the open doorway.

“Got a few done,” she said.

“Well, someone offered slave labor, so we can start carrying,” Garret said, grinning over at Toby, who laughed.

“It’s the least I can do,” Toby said, following Garret in and picking up one of the plastic tubs Garret pointed to.

“After working all day?” Garret’s mother asked.

“Well, I came to ask y’all a favor, so the least I can do is help cart things about.”

“A favor?” Garret asked.  He didn’t know Toby well enough to know if that should be worrying.

“Yeah,” Toby said actually looking a little sheepish about it.  “I talked to my Mom at lunch, and apparently she’s having to move in with her mother for a while.  She was asking if I knew anyone who might be willing to watch the house.  You’d mentioned wintering in Georgia, so I thought I’d make the offer.  She’s actually willing to pay someone if she needs to, but I thought maybe rent free, and you cover utilities while you’re there would be a pretty good deal for everyone.”

“Oh,” Garret’s mother said, her voice full of worry.  “Is your grandmother alright?”

Garret smiled.  Of course that’s what she was worried about first.

“She’s got some vertigo issues, needs someone around for when the world gets spiny,” Toby said.  “Other than that she’s in great health actually.  Mom just wants to be there for her, and they live in the same town still, so she’d been just going over a lot.  But it’s wearing on my mom, so she’s looking to just move for a bit.”

“Why don’t you have her call me,” Garret’s mother said, plucking one of their cards from the holder she hadn’t packed up yet and a pen from her apron before scribbling her number on the back.  “She and I can talk through everything and see what’s what.”

“Thank you, ma’am,” Toby said.  “In the meantime, I’ll help with the boxes.”

“Why thank you,” she said with a smile.

Garret picked up a box and lead the way out toward the exit gate.  There was no sense wasting daylight.

“I hope it works out that y’all can come down,” Toby said as they walked.

“Yeah?” Garret asked.  ‘Why?’ would probably be rude.

“There’s a really great maker community in town, and I think you and your mom would get along well with them.  Our moms would probably get along well too at that.  And I might actually get a chance to say more than six words to you.”

Garret almost tripped on his own feet.  Why did Toby want to talk to him?  He tried to come up with a response that didn’t make him sound like an idiot.  What did you even say to that kind of declaration?

“I’m not too picky about where we winter,” Garret said, hoping he hadn’t been silent long enough to make anything awkward.  “So if our moms work something out, I don’t mind.”

“I’m sure they’ll work something out,” Toby said.  “I know how important it is to save money in the off season and it will be a huge help to my mom.”

“If she’s looking for people to be in the house that means you don’t stay there during the winter,” Garret said.  A lot of rennies stayed with family for the month or two they weren’t traveling between festivals and other shows.

“No, I haven’t stayed at the house in years,” Toby said.  “When I came out, my father made it clear I wasn’t welcome.  He’s been gone two years but it hasn’t felt right going back, you know?”

“That must have been hard,” Garret said.  His dad died before Garret came out, and his mother had always been supportive.  She probably knew long before Garret ever thought to categorize himself.

“I had family who took me in, and my mom did what she could to make sure I knew she still loved me, but wasn’t in a place to go against my father about it.  It’s worked out alright.”

“So you still stay with family then?”

“Yeah,” Toby replied.  Garret could just make out his smile in the quickly fading light.  “Moved in with my aunt and uncle to finish school.  My cousin and her husband have the house now, and she insists that my room will always be mine.  I think it’s just because I’m free babysitting whenever I’m home.”

“Never underestimate the power of free babysitting,” Garret said.  He’d never been around little kids much, but he knew parents were always desperate for babysitters they could trust, free or not.

“True,” Toby said as they arrived at the trailer.  “But I also know Cally loves me to death, so it’s all good.”

“I’m glad you have good people,” Garret said, setting down his bin and getting the key out of his pocket.

By the time they got the two bins stowed away where they belonged, Garret’s mother had arrived with a few bags and told him the shop was all packed up, they’d just need to pack up the boxes in the morning.

“How early can my mom call you tomorrow?” Toby asked.

“I’m up by about dawn most days,” Garret’s mother replied.  “But I’ll also be up for a few more hours if she wants to call tonight, get things settled.”

“I’ll call her shortly then,” Toby said.  “I’m around tomorrow if y’all need any help hauling things,” he added.

“That would be much appreciated,” Garret’s mother said.  “If you meet us at the shop by eight I can feed you.”

“I never say no to a free meal,” Toby said, giving an exaggerated bow.  “See y’all then.”

Garret just watched as Toby walked away.

“Interested?” Garret’s mother asked.

“What?” Garret said, quickly turning to look at her.

“He is rather handsome, and he seemed interested in spending time.”

“I have no idea,” Garret said.  “I barely know the guy.”

“Well, that’s likely to change this winter.  We could use a break and free lodgings, even with utility costs, would be a big help.”

“I know,” he replied.  He wasn’t going to object to staying at Toby’s mom’s.  The margins were pretty close when you had your own business and you were traveling all the time.  A few too many vehicle repair bills this year had left things tight for their winter budget.


Two days later, they were driving up to Toby’s mother’s house.  Apparently they weren’t even being charge for all the utilities.  His mom had agreed to pay $150 a month to cover most of the utilities, and that they’d mow the lawn if it needed it, which apparently in Georgia, even in winter, wasn’t uncommon.

Garret was glad that Toby wasn’t going to be here when they arrived and moved things in.  He had another show before he was done for the winter, so he’d be down again in six days and had promised to stop in and say hello.  Garret still hadn’t sorted out how he felt about Toby’s sudden interest in getting to know him.  He’d have a chance to find out next week.

Image Prompt 063 – Finally Together


I chose the image of the Cornwall coast for my twenty-minute sprint this week.  I’m returning to Kyran and Neal, who I created for Image Prompt 23, just to explore that snippet a bit further.  I’ve been reading back through some of my old Image Prompt responses lately and finding interesting kernels to continue exploring.

Finally Together:

Kyran stood beside his car, looking down at the beach below.  It was still fairly cool, so there were only a few people down at the beach today.  No one he knew.  No one that would know him.  He hoped none of them would know Neal either.

“I hope you haven’t been here all night,” Neal said as he walked up beside Kyran.

“No,” Kyran replied.  “I left to find a place to sleep.”  Neal didn’t need to know what meant a place to park his car where it wouldn’t be seen and he could sleep in the back seat.

“Good,” Neal said.  “I didn’t bring my car,” he added.  “It doesn’t make sense to have two if we’re going to be strapped for cash.” Continue reading

Image Prompt 062 – First Sight of the Ocean


I chose the image of the light house on the coast of Ireland as my prompt today.  I’m borrowing characters from another image prompt I wrote a while back (#20).  I’ve continued playing around with that story and what happened next, but this is more just a little side moment with Ian and Ailill, the characters in that image prompt scene.

First Sight of the Ocean:

Ian watched the crowd moving around then, marveling at how effective Ailill’s magic was at hiding what he really looked like.  It probably helped that blue hair wasn’t as weird as it used to be.  Anyone could dye their hair blue these days.  But the wings disappearing was always a little weird.  Ian was so used to seeing them.  He wondered if they were really gone, or if Ailill was just hiding them from sight.

“Have you ever been here before?” Ailill asked, trying to lean to see around some of the people in front of them.

“Yeah, I had an engagement photo shoot here a few years ago,” Ian replied.  “I thought you might like the views.”  Ailill had told him recently that he’d never seen the ocean before.  This was a pretty nice spot to show what the coast was like.

“That’s sweet,” Ailill said, turning to smile up at Ian.

Ian smiled back.  He couldn’t help but smile when Ailill was smiling. Continue reading

Image Prompt 061 – The Face of a Cat


I chose the image of the black cat in the black back pack for my twenty-minute sprint today.  I set this in the same world as my books, with a student at Black Ashe University, the Wiccan University in Fort Madison as my main character.  I hope you enjoy.


The Face of a Cat:

Kyle padded out of his room into the kitchen, starting the coffee maker more by feel than sight.  He’d been up late last night finishing up his essay on metaphysical translation spells.  He’d thought this was going to be one of those boring, reading dusty old tomes kind of metaphysics classes, but the professor was new, and was actually having them research spells, discuss how the mechanics worked and how they could potentially rework or recombine different mechanics for different spell effect.  It was the most fascinating class he’d taken as Black Ashe University so far.

Once the coffee was brewing, Kyle stopped in the bathroom, then returned to the kitchen, actually turning on the light this time and opening the fridge.

There was a soft noise from near the door, almost like there was an animal outside growling.

Kyle straightened up and looked toward the door.  He had the food for his late class in a bag hanging behind his backpack so he wouldn’t forget to pack it.  They were taking turns providing snacks so everyone had something since they met during normal dinner hours.

The noise came again. Continue reading

2019 Writing Year in Review


A lot of writing happened this past year, and a lot of good work toward my writing goals both generally and on specific projects.

I made a Get Your Words Out habit tracking pledge of 240 days for 2019, and missed it by 17.  Considering I’ve gone months without writing in previous years, I think that’s pretty fantastic.  I’ve made the same pledge for 2020, and have confidence I can push through and make it this time. Continue reading

Image Prompt 060 Response – Familiar


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.


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. Continue reading

Image Prompt 059 Response – 3 a.m.


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. Continue reading