Friday, February 27, 2015

#FlashFiction Friday #bravewriting

It's time once again for my weekly writing exercise. Here was today's challenge.

First line: He had enjoyed ten years of being totally irresponsible. (randomly generated line)
Last line: “Yes,” I said. “Isn’t it pretty to think so?” (~Ernest Hemingway)
Exercise: Construct a character who is not present.

He had enjoyed ten years of being totally irresponsible. His visits were scattered whirlwinds of excitement and promise that always fell just short of expectations. In the decade since my dad left, I changed, my mom changed, and the world changed, but he stayed the same. Always a boyish grin and quick joke to distract from any semblance of real conversation—Heaven forbid we get too deep.
At first I believed he would come back and stay. Why wouldn’t he? He was my dad. So his first visit was hardest. It had been over six months then without warning one day there he was outside of school leaning against an old rusted brown car with sunglasses and a smile I had begun to think I imagined.
“Hey, kiddo,” he said. “Did ya miss me?”
I dropped my backpack and flung myself into his waiting arms. He was home. I was right and everyone else had been wrong. He came back. The rest of the day was a blur of sugar, games, and brightly colored lights, which ended in a stomach ache and my mom furious. I fell asleep to the sound of their muffled argument, but still I smiled because my dad was home.  It was two years before I saw him again.
The next time I was a much wiser eight year old. When he breezed back into my life, I hesitated.
“Don’t you recognize your old dad?” he asked.
I stared at him. Nothing had changed except the car he drove, now it was a faded VW bug. But I was different. Hurt does that to a person, it changes them unpredictable ways, but it definitely robs them of their child eyes. I had a new dad now and was cured of my delusions about my real dad staying. But still the trickle of excitement seeped into me and I went with him once again for our day in Never-Never Land.
And so it went on as the years passed. He would always come without warning and be gone hours later. I don’t know what he did or how he survived when he wasn’t here. I didn’t even know where he lived. It could have been a mile or a thousand miles away. Every time he drove a different old car, but he was always happy and made me feel like the center of the universe even if it was just for a few hours.
Mom never said anything after the first time about his visits. She would just accept me home late with a relieved sigh and dry the inevitable teas that came later when he left again. But now she was gone and so was my stepfather. One terrible accident and now the stranger I had worshipped as a kid and tolerated as a teenager was my legal guardian.
“It will be different now,” my friend Emily said.
I gave her a weak smile. “Yes,” I said. “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Slow Cooker Taco Soup

I am going to be throwing some recipes and you guys (possibly) in the future. I have been enamored with food and cooking and am trying to move that toward healthy eating, so I am now officially that crazy person photographing her food. Anyway, since I couldn't find a recipe I liked for this on a website that I could pin, I wrote down my own recipe that I made last night. It was delightful and the perfect cold weather, snow-in-the-forecast dinner. 
I adapted the recipe from Web MD's recipe (http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/chill-out-your-appetite-soups-stews?page=3)

Slow Cooker Taco Soup
1 pound lean ground sirloin  or ground turkey 
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 cup salsa
2 cups water
2 cans petite diced tomatoes
1 can diced green chiles 
Taco seasoning mix (I make my own and then put it in to taste)
Optional Garnishes (I don't use these. I normally just top mine with some cilantro, but I like it spicy):
Sprinkle of cheese (your choice)
Dollop of Greek Yogurt or sour cream
Cilantro
  • Cook meat until browned. Drain.
  • Mix the ground meat, beans, corn, salsa, water, diced tomatoes, green chiles, and taco seasoning in a slow cooker. Cook for 8 hours.
  • Serve

Friday, February 20, 2015

#FlashFiction Friday

Today's exercise (sorry I was so late posting it).

Writing exercise: Write a “conversation” in which no words are said.
Explanation: This exercise is meant to challenge you to work with gesture, body language (or, as a baseball announcer I heard once misspeak it, body English), all the things we convey to each other without words. We often learn more about characters in stories from the things characters do with their hands than from what they say. It might be best to have some stranger observe this conversation, rather than showing us the thoughts of one of the people involved in the conversation, because the temptation to tell us what the conversation is about is so great from inside the conversation. “I was doing the opposite of Freud,” Desmond Morris says, of his famous book The Naked Ape that first studied the ways humans speak with their bodies. “He listened to people and didn’t watch; I watched people and didn’t listen.” Because of Morris, according to Cassandra Jardine, “when politicians scratch their noses they are now assumed to be lying—and the sight of the Queen [Elizabeth] crossing her legs at the ankles is known to be a signal that her status is too high for her to need to show sexual interest by crossing them further up.” Autistic children cannot understand human conversation even when they understand individual words because they cannot read facial expressions, which is clear evidence of how important other forms of language are.

The door slammed. Paul stalked into the room, jaw tight and chest heaving. He swiped at his tie, tearing it over his head and dropping it on the floor before undoing the top three buttons and walking over to the window. 
Megan slipped silently into the
 room. Paul’s shoulder pulled back and his arms crossed over his chest. Her manicured fingers smoothed over the raw silk top and white pencil skirt as she opened her mouth to speak. 
He shot her the look over his shoulder: mouth in a thin line, sharp cheekbones, and ice cold gaze. Her full lips closed and eyes filled with tears that never made it the heavy black mascara. Paul turned back to the window staring out past the bright lights to the black endless sky. 
She moved toward him slipping off her shoes as she went. With a sigh, her hand brushed against his arm. He stilled at her touch and she held her breath. When he didn’t remove her hand, it climbed to his shoulder and she moved closer until her chin nearly rested against him. 
Still he stared out the window, jaw tight and lips thin. Megan stared into the corded muscle of his neck, her soft breath whistling against this collar. Silence roared through the room creating a chasm between them. A tear rolled down her cheek and she drew in a shaky breath. 
Paul’s hand covered hers.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

#CurrentlyReading Not Quite Mind by Catherine Bybee

So I have been on a contemporary/chick lit sort of kick recently. This book, Not Quite Mine, is about a rather spoiled rich party girl, Katie, who finds a baby on her doorstep and it changes her life. It is sweet and fun and sometimes funny.

Basically, Katelyn's brother is getting married and with the wedding comes an old, long lost flame back into her life, Dean. Then she finds the baby about the time she is ready to make some changes. But instead of calling the police and turning the child over, she decides to keep it and hide the fact from everyone who knows her.

She lets them think that her lack of sleep, erratic behavior is all because she is partying too much. Having promised her brother he would look after her, Dean starts to get suspicious and eventually finds out about the child. But will the baby pull them closer together or push them further away?

Friday, February 13, 2015

#FlashFiction Friday #BraveWriting


Who's ready for a story/challenge? Just in time for Valentine's Day something romantic....ahahaha I kid. 

Here it is:

Today's flash fiction:Write a 500 word scene where the character experiences a visceral (instinctive and out of their control) reaction to something that is happening.





A hard lump formed in my throat at the base of my neck just above the collar bones. My fingers skimmed the spot expecting to find physical proof of its existence, but all I felt was soft skin. From there my ribs seemed to pull in with sheer and utter panic and my mouth was completely dry, but all I could do was stare out of the window. 

“What a shame the poor bride’s groom is a whore,” repeated over and over in my head as I watched him with her below. They couldn’t even give me one day. No. That wasn’t the right response. 

She tried to leave and he took her hand. I braced myself against the window frame as my knees threatened to give out and the tops of my cheeks burned. He pulled her back to him. The dull ache in my heart throbbed out through the rest of my body. His lips possessed hers as his hand crushed the delicate silk of her dress. I forgot to breathe. She pulled back, shaking her head as I drew in a gasping breath and copious amounts of cool anger that made my hands shake, but strengthened the rest of me. This was my day. Nothing was taking it from me. 

Stepping back from the window, I stood in front of the mirror staring into my own eyes. It would all be okay. Better a tragic widow than a fool of a wife. The color in my cheeks slowly drained with breath. 

There. I was perfect again.



-Liz

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

#CurrentlyReading The Legend of Drizzt by R.A. Salvatore

So this one is a bit of a departure from what I have been recommending, but it is an excellent series. I have been rereading it (I have read this series about five or eight time). Let me tell you, it is fantastic.

This is a high fantasy trilogy in the Forgotten Realms that has a little of everything. It has action, fantastic battles, subtle emotion, character growth, lots of pain, and one of my favorite heroes to ever grace the page: Drizzt Do'Urden.

My actual first introduction to Drizzt was in The Crystal Shard then I went back and read the trilogy about how he escaped the Underdark. You see Drizzt is a dark elf who isn't much like most of his kindred. It starts with Drizzt being born in the first book Homeland. This book takes us all the way through his education and his ultimate choice to leave Menzoberranzan. The second book Exile is about Drizzt's time in the wilds of the Underdark. The third book is Sojourm is about Drizzt adjusting to the world on the surface where everyone is terrified of him.

Seriously if you enjoy fantasy, even if you have never read high fantasy, give this series a chance and we will chat about it. I love it so much!

Liz


Friday, February 6, 2015

#FlashFiction Friday #bravewriting

Hello all,

Here is this's week's piece of flash fiction. I hope you guys are enjoying these as much as I am. Here was the challenge:

Write a story backwards. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold works this way, more or less. Murder mysteries are told backwards, in a sense. Most stories we tell orally we tell from the middle forward until someone tells us we’ve left out important details, then we double back. You might try taking one of your own short pieces—or someone else’s—and simply reversing the sentences. What then? Unless you’re very lucky, you’ll have to do a good deal to make this reversed piece of prose make sense. Make sure this does not become simply a device. The structure should be inherently useful to the material, which is good advice for any fiction. 500 words.




The path to my future was beat down before me. Impractical shoes wore blisters on my feet. I paused long enough to take them off before starting back forward, not seeing anything before me. The tall dry grass brushed my skirt and tickled my legs, but heart lay bleeding and broken back on that porch with the only man I had ever loved.
Jack had been sitting on the top step of my porch, elbows against his knees and a beer dangling from his fingertips when I got home from my trip.  I left to find myself—God that sounded cliché. The whole cab ride home I debated if I had found what I was looking for at all. Seeing Jack’s unshaven square jaw and serious eyes hungry as they grazed over me, I doubted everything I thought I figured out.
He waited until I was within a few feet of him to look up with a wry, entirely too handsome smile. “You’re home.” His rich baritone was soft and pensive.
I dropped my suitcase on the sidewalk and schlepped up the four steps before I plopped down next to him. “How long have you been here?”
His lips pursed as he shook his head ever so slightly, taking a swig of his beer. “Not long.”
Three more bottles of beer sat behind the post. I reached around him, bumping him with my shoulder as I grasped one bottle and knocked over another. Empty. Raising my eyebrows I straightened. “As I suspected.” I took the bottle out of his hands and took a drink before handing it back.
We sat in comfortable silence for several minutes. Exhaustion plucked at my consciousness make each blink longer and slower. After traveling all day, the only thing I wanted to do was shower and go to bed. “What are you doing here, Jack?”
He took a deep breath and offered me his beer again. I took it as he watched out of the corner of his eye, never once turning toward me. He was obviously in a mood today.
“Do you know what the best part of my day is?” his voice startled me.
My mouth fell open. I pressed my lips together and shook my head.
“It’s sitting on the balcony with you.”
My cheeks were warm and my breath thin. This was it. It was finally going to happen. I glanced at the ceiling of the porch as if I would be able to see the balcony that sat above it. Every evening I sat out on that balcony and waited for him to come home. That moment when he’d look up at me from his driveway next door and smiled just for me had been the best part of my day since the day I moved in. I looked back at his profile, his mouth still thoughtful and his cheekbones sharp. “Is that right?” I handed his beer back to him.
His shoulders drew up with breath and his legs shifted, pressed his knee against mine. Suddenly I was very much awake. The warmth from his leg soaked into mine. His finger laid over mine, but he still didn’t look at me.  “It would appear so.” The vibration of his deep voice ran down my spine.
I wasn’t going to misunderstand this time.  If it killed me, he was going to spell it out. I opened my mouth to speak, but nothing came out. I dropped my head against his shoulder and let this rare moment of vulnerability wash over me. I didn’t have to control everything, but I did need to know he wasn’t going to change his mind again. I couldn’t go through that a second time.  If my trip had taught me anything, it was that I couldn’t keep waiting around for him. I had to live my life. The degree to which Jack would be in it was up to him. It had to be.
“What does that mean?” I finally forced out, terrified he wouldn’t answer—or worse that it changed nothing. He’d still go home like he did every night and leave me in limbo.
Those wonderful, terrible fingers rough to the touch, moved back and forth over mine so gently, so soft. The seedling of hope grew. I couldn’t help it or stop it. This was what I wanted and I was finally getting it. He was finally choosing me.
“I don’t know,” he said.
All heat drained from my body. Piece by piece I broke contact. First, I removed my head from his shoulder, next I slid over enough that our legs were no longer touched, and finally I took my hand from his, feeling each finger tear away a piece of me as they left. It was my turn to breathe deeply. Tears didn’t come, only shocking pain that hardened my insides—a tragic aftermath of hop. I stood up and went back down the stairs. With trembling legs, I pushed each foot forward. I couldn’t go into my house and I didn’t look back.
I’d never look back again.
The worn down path stretched out endless in front of me. It didn’t matter where I was going. All that mattered was that it wasn’t here.

 
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