Better Weather on the Way

PHOTO PROMPT © Sarah Potter

Photo copyright: Sarah Potter

Many thanks to our gracious host and purple aficionado, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for giving us our weekly prompt here at Friday Fictioneers and to Sarah Potter for supplying the photo prompt. My initial response was zilch, having locked my muse in my sewing closet last weekend. However, she won’t stay there when a challenge like this presents itself. Today she popped up to remind me of dear old Whiny…Winnie.

Another vacation trial for the peevish Winnie and her long-suffering traveling companion, Raylene. To read the first part of their Florida adventure, click here.

GOOD NEWS

Winnie was staring out the window when Raylene looked up from the TV screen. “Are you happy now,” she asked. “That nice manager gave us a room with a better view.”

Winnie scowled at her. “But it’s still snowing in Florida, of all things. How will we manage Disney World tomorrow in this mess?”

Raylene hit the power switch. “I have good news for you, dear. The weatherman says there’s a hurricane barreling toward the Florida coast as we speak. Should hit here tomorrow about noon. That’ll wash away all this snow.”

Winnie eyed the outdoor scene. “Well. Thanks be!”

funny-hat-woman

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

—Winnie in Florida hoping for sun 🙂 —

A Muse’s Tale

owl-158411_640

Yesterday was a sad day for Christine’s muse. Christine had grabbed her, shaken her, and screamed, “This is it! Spring is coming, my last-summer wardrobe is toast — and you keep filling my head with crazy blog posts. Out you go!”

To add insult to injury, some trash flung out of a passing car smacked her in the face, there in bushes where she’d been tossed.

Copyright Liz Young

Photo copyright Liz Young

Yet she smiled. “Just wait, my friend. I’ll rise again. You’ll see another prompt, I’ll be whispering ideas in your ear, and you’ll abandon your sewing machine for your keyboard. You’re so predictable. That’s why I love to haunt you.”

And she’s back already! Rochelle Wisoff-Fields has been her accomplice, via the Friday Fictioneers prompt. My muse thanks you, Rochelle, for faithfully feeding her bright ideas. (I’m hoping putting my icon first will have it show up on the link. Oh, for tech smarts!)

The word count on this one is 105, but I’ve no time to search and destroy excess words. I’m finally in the mood to sew a spring dress and it’s GOING to happen.

Gone Someday

The Boat Builder’s Escape

Matt stuck the small painted boat under his t-shirt so no one could see it and ran the five blocks to the 20th Street bridge. He was hoping Mom wouldn’t happen to come looking for him. He knew he’d get a good smack upside the head if she didn’t find him busy with the job she’d given him.

Seeing no one else around, the eight-year-old boy hurried to the middle and the bridge and pulled out the boat he’d made. He looked down at the stream not far below. Spring flood waters had swelled the narrow river and were hurrying it along to the forks where it would join another a hundred miles away.

He took a last look at the boat he’d made. Okay, it was nothing special, but he’d shaped and painted it himself. He’d screwed a metal plate on the bottom to keep it right-side up and painted a sailor on the deck. Now he gazed soberly at the little sailor’s face. “I can’t go off and see the world, but you can.” He held the boat over the rail of the bridge and dropped it into the water. As he watched the current carry it away, he murmured, “I can’t run away, but you can.”

He turned around and trudged back home, hoping there might be something in the house to eat.

He slipped into the kitchen quietly so his mother wouldn’t hear him and opened a few cupboard doors, looking for some cereal or a piece of bread to ease his hunger pangs. He was peering into the fridge when his mother suddenly grabbed his arm in a painful grip and yanked him away.

“There you are, you lazy little brat. Where’ve you been? You were supposed to clean up the garage and when I looked you were nowhere to be seen. And where did those paint cans come from? Have you been messing around with paint? All I need for you to get your clothes all splattered.”

“I’m starving, Mom. Just let me grab something to eat and I’ll go clean up.”

She gave him a good shake. “I’ll starve you, you empty-headed little loafer!” She threw him against the side door. “Now get back out there and Do something!”

boy-in-small-boatMatt’s eyes filled with tears as he walked back to the garage. The pain deep inside threatened to choke him. But then he thought of his little boat and smiled. It had gotten away. Someday he would, too.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Since the Daily Press prompt for today is someday, I thought I’d repost this small fiction story. It was originally posted October 29, 2016

Job Satisfaction

Thanksgiving Day:

Along with the other men in the family, Conlin headed for the living room after the feast. With a deep sigh of contentment, he plopped into his recliner as his brothers and brother-in-law began discussing the perks of their respective jobs. Phil, his younger brother, had been promoted to district manager back in August and chattered enthusiastically about his new position.

Conlin could have put in a few comments about his own job — he was happy enough doing what he did in Human Resources and could tell a few tales out of school — but today he didn’t feel much like talking. Maybe he was too full of turkey and trimmings?

No, that wasn’t the whole picture. At the moment Conlin was sated physically and more or less content with his life, his home, his job. Yet he sensed a void but couldn’t quite put his finger on it. He brushed the feeling aside, flipped up his footrest and leaned back. Totally comfortable now, he listened to the others until their voices became a fading drone and his eyes closed.

In a dream he saw a long road that stretched before him as far as he could see, with neither curve or hill to vary the route. My path through life, he thought, nice and easy.

Too easy. Same old, mile after mile, day after day.

Next he was running on a treadmill, round and round, like the gerbils he and his boys had watched at the pet store. They made that wheel spin, but they got nowhere. What a life! Anything would be better than this, he thought. Suddenly he spotted an open door on the side of cage. Yes! He jumped up, grabbed the frame and threw himself through the door. Then he was free falling… The sensation made him jerk.

Phil’s voice penetrated his dream. “Dozing off, brother? Too much food?”

Conlin lowered the footrest. “I guess so. Had a dream — you know those ones where you feel yourself falling?”

“Yeah. Wonder what causes those?”

Conlin was awake now, listening to the conversation, but the dream remained in the back of his mind. He saw himself trudging along the road, then running in the treadmill, going round and round, getting nowhere. Did the dream mean anything? Was his subconscious mind trying to send him a message?

Two days later:

Conlin drove his son to the hardware store the Saturday after Thanksgiving so Tyson could pick up paint and nails to finish his birdhouse. As he stood beside the hardware store counter waiting for Tyson to collect everything he needed, another fellow came along and set four identical light fixtures on the counter.

Conlin nudged his arm. “Hey, Larry. Good to see you. What are you up to?”

The man turned toward him. “Conlin, old buddy. How are you?”

“I’m good. And yourself? Are you doing some renovations at your place?”

“Actually, these are going to be for our new club house. A couple of other guys and I have been concerned about the youth in the low-rent housing in the next subdivision. They have no place to hang out, and you know how it is…a lot of single moms…very few male mentors…drug peddlers and gangs looking for recruits. We figure the boys might need a hand if they’re going to stay out of trouble, maybe a supervised place where they can go after school.”

“Sounds like quite an undertaking.”

“Maybe. We can’t save the world, but we decided to do what we could and half a dozen other guys have offered some volunteer time every week. So we chipped in and got us a small abandoned garage on a paved lot. We’ll fix it up, maybe put up some hoops for basketball, that kind of thing. A lot of these boys have been shifted around from school to school, too, and need help with the basic subjects. Come to think of it, you were always a whiz at school. Maybe you’d be willing to put in a few hours now and then?”

Conlin hesitated. It seemed like a worthwhile project — and it would definitely be a new adventure for him. “Tell you what. I’ll come around and have a look at what you’re doing, then we’ll see.”

Almost a year later:

Conlin’s stomach growled as he leaned over the boy studying the textbook. He glanced at his watch. Supper should have been half an hour ago — no wonder he was hungry.

When his stomach growled again, Manny looked up and grinned. “Better fill it up soon, Mr C, or it’s gonna eat ya alive.”

Conlin mussed the lad’s hair and grinned. “I’ll survive somehow. You’re almost done, Manny. Just finish this page and I’ll drive you home.”

“Sure.” Manny got busy on the last few math problems and five minutes later closed his textbook. “All done.”

“Great, buddy! Let’s go home.”

“Thanks for staying and helping me, Mr C. I really appreciate this,” the boy said as he opened the car door.

Conlin climbed behind the wheel. “Glad to do it. You’re worth it, you know.” Manny gave him a huge smile in response.

As he drove Manny home he remembered. “Hey! Thanksgiving is next week. Is your family doing anything special?”

“Maybe going to my grandma’s,” the boy replied. “I hope so, anyway. She knows how to make great mashed potatoes and gravy. Mom’s are always lumpy and her gravy’s like glue.”

“If that doesn’t work out, let me know. Your family’s welcome to join us.” He gave Manny a big wink. “My wife makes good mashed potatoes and gravy, too.”

Conlin dropped Manny off and headed for his own home. His stomach growled again as he turned the next corner. His mind went back to last Thanksgiving Day, to the void he’d felt and the dream he’d had. He may have the same day job, but he’d escaped the treadmill. Yeah, he thought, glancing at his watch again, I may be late for supper sometimes, but life’s a lot more satisfying now.

Word Press Daily prompt: Sated

The Big Bad Pig Reforms

One day my four-year-old grandson was here for a couple of hours while his mom was otherwise occupied, and he was telling me this story:

“At the other grandma’s house we were reading a book. It was a story about three nice wolves and a big bad pig.

“There was a mother wolf and the three nice little wolves. Then the nice wolves had to go and build themselves each a house. And the big bad pig tried to knock their houses down. He did, he knocked down their houses. And the nice wolves ran away.

And the nice wolves ran into a house that was really strong and the big bad pig was going to knock it down, too.”

So what did the big bad pig do,” I asked. “Did he knock the house down?”

“No. He couldn’t. But then you know what happened? The nice wolves opened the door and let the big bad pig in and he became a good pig. Yes! He became a good pig and they were all playing together and everybody was happy.”

I must ask “the other grandma” about this book of hers, I thought. I hadn’t heard this version. No, it sounds very strange indeed. But then my husband went online and found out there is indeed such a book out now. It’s listed on Amazon here: The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig.

One little wolf builds his house of cement and the big bad pig comes with a jackhammer. The next one builds his house of bricks and the pig comes with dynamite and blows it up. (Remember we’re living with savvy children these days. No straw and stick houses. No huff and puff.”

Caution: spoiler alert!
Anyway, the big bad pig does knock down all the little wolves houses, but in the end do indeed invite the big bad pig in to play with them and be their friend. He responds by becoming a nice pig. I can see this as the author’s attempt to show children one way of coping with bullies. Make them friends. Not a bad plan at all.

At least it works with some people. While other bullies, hardened and scarred by a life of brutality, would respond to the offer by trashing the house and devouring his intended victims. In this case the wolves. Or, for a really quirky twist, would the nice little wolves end up eating the pig? Wolves might, you know. (Oh, well. I needn’t inject a dose of morbid reality here.)

Some parents will applaud what the Amazon book blurb calls a “delightfully skewed version of the traditional tale. Some will call this approach enlightenment; some will say it’s a disappointment. I haven’t decided, but I do wonder about the long-term effects of turning the traditional villain into nice little heroes and the traditional victims, the three little pigs, into one nasty villain. But if this is the only version the children ever hear….?

What do you think?

Word Press Daily prompt: disappointment

Back Again

Hello Everyone,

I was shocked when I opened this blog and saw that it’s actually been a month since I posted here. I thought, “Maybe two weeks…” As you know, I have been dealing with health issues — and especially so this past month — but I’ve been blessed with a bit more inspiration lately to work on this again. A bit of spring cleaning and sorting is in order, maybe add a page or two.

As to my battle with leukemia, the decision has been made that next month we’ll start firing the big guns. At my Cancer Clinic appointment in February Dr Hart told me she felt it’s time to start chemotherapy, beginning in April. On March 8th, as a preliminary, I had a CAT scan and Dr Hart took a bone marrow sample. Not your nicest experience, but it’s par for the course. 😦

I have written a couple of stories lately in response to the Word Press Daily Prompt, like this humorous letter, RE: Missing Ferrari, using the given word “incomplete.” Read it here.

This week I’m inspired by Jeff Goins’ 7-day Blog Like a Pro challenge. Although I’m not at this time following each step, I’ve been watching with interest and checking out a dozen new blogs and articles.

Here’s the link to one of them, for anyone who’s interested in using Google.com for research: Five Google Tricks that will make you a better writer. This blogger has posted several other thought-provoking articles recently as well.

Another thing I’ve been doing lately is reading, and right now am enjoying P G Wodehouse. Read more about my impressions of this prolific English writer here.

Of Daily Prompts and A Wedding Gown

Some thoughts on the repetitious Word Press Daily Prompts

This morning I read Linda’s post and decided to mull the matter over on my own writing blog. I do agree with Linda: the promise of “A new prompt every day” isn’t being fulfilled. I wonder if they made this commitment before they started the project and the “carrying out” has proved unworkable? Or they feel blogger participation doesn’t warrant continuing? When so many million people blog, the daily prompts only attracted 50 or so.

Mrs AngloSwiss says she asked Ben H about why are there no new prompts. “He answered me and said there are no intentions of putting up new prompts. It seems that the veteran posters, like me, are now few and far between.”

Now, Word Press does give us the option of another prompt — in fact you can keep on clicking to see half a dozen options. I’ve checked them out and they’re all ones I’ve seen before, too. But if I choose one of these alternatives, then I’m doing a different prompt from everyone else that day. Then why not write about a different topic altogether, one that means something to me?

Perhaps the folks at WP see prompts as a kind of training wheels: once you’ve done them all you should know how to blog and can do your own thing. And actually, when I go back and try to click on the responses posted a couple of years ago, I find a lot of sites have been deleted. Easy to start; hard to stay the course.

Whatever the reason, like yourself, I’m a bit disappointed even if I haven’t been able to do the prompt every day. Just for the fun of it, I’ve started writing my own inspirations: “Writing prompts for Readers and Writers.” Maybe someday when I get enough I’ll post them. 🙂

Meanwhile, I’ve gotten enthused about doing short stories — as have other bloggers. Here’s a 100-word story I wrote yesterday. Please critique!

I have a happy ending in mind for this sad scene — but that’s another 100 words.

THE WEDDING DRESS

With a heavy heart Jasmin pulled open the bridal salon door and stepped inside.

The salesgirl hurried over to her. “Miss Turanich! Glad you’ve come in. We were wondering if, in all the rush, you were forgetting your dress still needs to be fitted. We don’t want to leave the alterations too long.”

Jasmin sighed. “Hardly. But there’s been another alteration…” She dabbed the corner of one eye with a soggy tissue as she watched the clerk’s face fill with dismay.

“I was hoping, since my wedding gown hasn’t been altered yet… if I could still…um… get a refund?”

How Cozy Is This Cozy?

I’ve been doing some more fiction writing lately and decided I’d reactivate this site so I can post some of my newest compositions and a few book reviews. So I’ll start with reviews of some recent cozy mysteries I’ve read.

Cozies: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

Or Rather, The Odd:

Probable Claws, Book 2 in the Vanessa Abbot Cat Protection League Cat Cozy Mystery series, written by Nancy C. Davis

I love cats and I enjoy a cozy mystery, but this book didn’t thrill me much. A reader has to be into cat “mental telepathy” to find it enjoyable. The cat owner (and sleuth, if you can call her that) doesn’t have to figure anything out. She simply listens to what her omniscient cats are telling her about whodunit.

Now, if you do enjoy fantasies where cats solve mysteries, this is a great book for you. The mystery itself is valid, though the plot is elementary and the cast limited. The pace could be perked up with less talk, more action, and more emotions brought out in the dialogue. The conversations don’t move the plot along like they could. And the police detective blabbing so much info at the crime scene, discussing the suspects in front of all and sundry, is quite unorthodox.

The So-So:

Have you ever read a book that you thought kind of dragged along to an improbable conclusion, then checked online and found enthusiastic write-ups that leave you wondering what’s wrong with your judgement — or the reviewer’s ?

I recently read Murder in Cottage #6 (Liz Lucas Cozy Mystery Series Book 1) then reviewed the reviews on Amazon. This book has 22 five-star ratings, 1 four-star, and the customer reviews are so upbeat. “An entertaining suspenseful book”; “Loved it”; “Another great read for this cozy mystery series.”

My impression: If you say so. My rating: three-star max. The plot’s okay, though I thought Liz and her friend acted both foolish and out of character toward the end. Actually the last chapter portrays the crook as obtuse as well, if she never twigs onto the fact that she’s being followed all over town all day. I found the dialogue is stilted; no one talks that formally these days.

A good editor could have worked wonders with this one. In fact, the whole story could have been reduced by about 30% just by eliminating all the repetition. For example (direct quote):
Liz couldn’t help but notice the big yellow stain on his shirt. “See you’re lookin’ at that spot on my shirt,” Seth said.
(Well, yeah. The writer just told us that. You didn’t have to.)

The writer has done the character’s thoughts in italics and these tend to repeat the conversation you just read. A lot of stuff like (not an actual excerpt):
He glared at her furiously. “What are you doing here anyway?” he demanded.
Oh, dear, she thought to herself. He’s angry with me for coming. I should have stayed away.

I can’t tell you how many times I read, either in dialogue or thought, that the detective is a hopeless bumbler who will never be able to solve the case on his own. Actually she makes the detective a caricature, a lecherous dimwit. I don’t appreciate that treatment of authority.

I hope that some kind editor has taken the writer of this series, Dianne Harman, in hand and helped her work out the flaws I am seeing (fussy me) so the second book in the series will be much improved.

The Good:

The Dune House Cozy Mystery Series by Cindy Bell. One day journalist Suzie Allen is informed that her long-forgotten Uncle Harry has unexpectedly left her Dune House, a beautiful house on the beach that was once a Bed and Breakfast. She and her best friend, Mary, head for the town of Garber, on the East Coast ( Maine?) to restore the old place. I’ve read three of these books. In ‘chronological order’, they are:
Seaside Secrets
Boats and Bad Guys
Treasured History
Hidden Hideaway
Dodgy Dealings

The REALLY Good:

I’ve been reading Joanna Carl’s series, A Chocoholic Mystery, and am enjoying them immensely. The stories are skillfully told; the plots are believable; the characters are likable. Lee McKinley, the heroine, is brave but not brassy, mouthy, or foolishly dashing into disasters. Plus a few sidebar details about the history of chocolate in each book.

There are about fifteen in all, but so far I’ve read (in the series ‘chronological order’):
The Chocolate Cat Caper
The Chocolate Frog Frame Up
The Chocolate Puppy Puzzle
The Chocolate Mouse Trap
The Chocolate Bridal Bash
The Chocolate Jewel Case
The Chocolate Snowman Murders

So if you’re looking for a cozy to fill a long winter evening, these books are scary but no heart-stopping-terror, some romantic interests but no profanity or erotic scenes.

Closed For Now

Hello, dear Readers.

I appreciate all the LIKES and all my followers and apologize for not posting on this site as I originally intended. Alas, for the time being my story fountain has run dry.

At this point, considering my current struggle with leukemia and the slow downhill slide my health seems to be taking, I’ve decided to go back to one blog for my poetry and fiction. I don’t want to shut this site down completely — who knows what the future may hold? But until further notice this blog and my poetry blog, http://swallowinthewind.wordpress.com, will be inactive.

All my prose and poems — except for haiku — will be posted on my main blog, http://christinegoodnough.com.

For the time being I plan to continue posting haiku occasionally on http://treetophaiku as well.