My Writing Christmas List

We’re thirty days away from Christmas. (Hard to believe.) And by this time, kids and adults are compiling their Christmas lists. So I am going to give you my list of things I want for Christmas. And if you didn’t guess by the title, everything will be writing-related. Now, this is only a wish list. I don’t expect to get any of these items. But if there’s anyone willing to gift me any of these items, “Thank You” will be in order.

In no particular order…

  • Apple iPhone X. Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way. I debated, and still am, on whether it’s worth getting the iPhone X or the 8 Plus. Either will fulfill my wants for more memory and a bigger screen. And either will have multiple uses besides using them for my writing and note-taking. The biggest questions come to cost and use of features. Am I going to use all the features that the iPhone X is offering? Will I sacrifice having the latest, greatest phone for ease of use? And what about the price? Am I willing to sign my life away—not that I already am—to have a phone that will be good until the newest model is announced? On a couple of occasions, I thought I had a definitive answer. Not so much now. But I have some time before deciding.

  • Bluetooth headphones. I like listening to music when I’m writing or doing anything else like outdoor chores or working out at the gym. Wired earbuds are a pain and I don’t keep up with the cushions on wireless earbuds. So I think having headphones will be better for me. They’re more comfortable and most will allow you to answer phone calls. Beats are the go-to, but there are others that are as good and cost less. I’m open to anything.

  • Writing Craft Books. I’ll be the first to admit that I need help with the writing craft. I get that books can only get you so far, but any help is welcome. Now I can compose a list just on this item alone, but I’ll list the books that are the most sought after. On the top of my list is The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Ever since I learned of its existence and reading about how it’s helped so many writers. I can’t imagine not benefiting me. Next is Stephen King’s On Writing. The quintessential guide to the creative process. I used to have this book, but I gave it away. I want it back.

  • Writing Prompt Books. Like the craft books, I can compile a list based on this item. I research a lot of prompts on Pinterest and subscribe to a newsletter that posts new prompts every week. But having a book will be a boon. Will I use them all? Maybe. Maybe not. But it will get me thinking outside the box.

  • Short Story Collections. I like reading short stories as much as I like writing them. And The Pushcart Prize and The Best American Short Stories are the best out there. There are others like the O. Henry anthology. And there are collections by various writers that are on my list. What makes these collections and anthologies so great is that while they cannot possess the depth of a novel due to its format, there’s the potential of reading memorable characters and awesome storytelling. And I want to learn from as many writers as possible so that I can create memorable stories of my own.

  • Subscriptions to Literary Magazines. It’s one thing to learn from the best writers in the world. It’s another to discover and read works from local writers, whether first-time or seasoned. Georgia has some great literary magazines, like New South and The Georgia Review. I want a subscription to either one and, like the nationwide anthologies, learn what makes their stories special.

  • Writing Space. This may sound like an odd item, but hear me out. I live in a small house that’s filled to the brim with family and it’s always busy. Even when I have the time to write, I’m writing in the kitchen most of the time. And I don’t have the privacy I want and frankly need to concentrate on writing. I just want an area that’s designated for me and my writing. Someplace where people know that when I’m there, I don’t want to be disturbed, even if it’s for thirty minutes. And I don’t care if it’s at a corner of the living room. I don’t care if it’s in the laundry room. I just want a space that’s mine where I can write in peace.

So, there you have it. My writing wish list. Will I get everything I want? Odds point to “no.” But a writer can dream.

What about you? What are you hoping for on your wish list? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time…

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What’s In a Name

Last month, I wrote a flash fiction piece on the parameter that it had to be told using dialogue only. I forgot where the prompt came from, but it was an interesting challenge. So, here’s my story.

“What do you mean?”

“Exactly what I said. We do not have an order for you.”

“Look…Lara. I put in an order three days ago for three dozen shamrock donuts to be picked up today. I have a receipt saying the order would be ready today. And now, you’re telling me I’m not in the system?”

“You don’t need to yell, sir. I can see the receipt. And it was sent to this location. I don’t understand what went wrong.”

“Let me talk to a manager. Right now.”

“Yes, sir. I’ll be right back.”

“I can’t believe this. I know I put in the order right. I may not be a techie, but I know my way around a computer. I know I put the order in right.”

“Sir, this is my manager, Derrick. He can help you.”

“So, there’s an issue with an order that was placed.”

“Long story short, Derrick, I placed an order for three dozen shamrock donuts for my daughter’s class three days ago. I got a receipt from your website that the order would be ready today. Now, she’s telling me that the order wasn’t placed when you can clearly see that it has.”

“Let me check my computers.”

“Could you please hurry up. My daughter’s expecting the donuts today.”

“What was the order under?”

“Ashlee. Frank Ashlee.”

“And how is that spelled?”

“A-S-H-L-E-E.”

“Ah. I see what happened. The computer corrected the spelling on our end. It didn’t recognize the spelling. And I see the order is ready. I’ll get them for you.”

“Thank you, Derrick.”

“I’ve never heard of anyone who spelled ‘Ashley’ that way.”

“I get that a lot. Believe me.”

So, how about you? I believe you can write a story using dialogue alone. Post your story in the comments. I would love to read them.

Harvesting Childhood


I must give thanks to Rachel Poli for providing the prompt, Apples and Pumpkins. I’ve wanted to write a story based on one of her prompts for a while, but didn’t find one that fit my style until now. And seeing how I love the Fall season, I find this story fitting. Hope you enjoy. 

Ridgeway Farms is possessed. At least that’s what Mr. Ridgeway tells us. As he drives the tractor, he speaks about how the farm was built on old cemetery grounds, and yet, the crops flourish. Especially the Apple and pumpkin crops. He says around the fall, The apples and pumpkins spring to life while everything else withers and dies. He speaks about the summer of ‘76, when a big fire scorched the grounds. But somehow, the apple trees and pumpkins continued to grow. I chalk it up to dumb luck. He and Mrs. Ridgeway believe otherwise.

Mr. Ridgeway pulls the tractor up to the barn. My sons, Keith and Alex, and I jump out of the car. They circle around me, chasing each other and fighting over God knows what. I snatch them both by their arms. 

“Did you boys listen to anything that nice farmer was saying?”

The boys look at me with shaking eyes. They shrug. I don’t mean to be harsh, but trying to connect with them is like trying to squeeze the last drops of soap out of a bottle. You try and try until ultimately, you throw the bottle away. 

“Go. Go play.”

My boys scuttle along. All I can do is watch and wonder why I bother trying to reach out to them. Things haven’t been the same since Carrie finalized our divorce. I see them every third weekend. It was her that suggested taking them to Mr. Ridgeway’s farm. She says all I do with sit on my butt and ignore the boys. “Going to the farm will be good for all of you,” she says. I doubted it, but went along with her idea.

The boys run to the pumpkin patch. Mr. Ridgeway stands with his hands tucked in his overalls, smiling all the while. He tells them to pick one pumpkin to take home with them. Mrs. Ridgeway watches them while he and I take a break inside. He pours me a glass of his cold homemade cider. Carrie told me his cider is better than anything Starbucks will ever make. He hands me a stick of cinnamon and I dip it in the glass. 

“Let it soak for a moment,” he says. I watch the kids out the window chase each other. I recollect the days working on my grandfather’s farm. I was eight when my parents divorced. I remember Aaron and me staying with him every weekend throughout the summer. He wasted no time putting us to work. Aaron got the easy job watering the crops, while I had the arduous task of extracting weeds. My hands aches for hours and I think I stretched out my back on a few occasions. I didn’t understand why Grandfather made us work so hard. All we wanted to do was play. And whenever we complained, Grandfather always said the same thing.

“I’m teaching you youngens the value of hard work. Believe me, you’ll thank me when I’m gone.”

That was twenty years ago. I turn to Ridgeway. He cradles the mason jar like a child. The sunlight kisses the snowy beard on his wrinkled face. Something inside me wonders why. 

“I wish my kids would come to visit more often and bring my grandkids. They’re missing out on a lot.”

I don’t know what to say, so I nod. 

“Kids these days,” he grumbles. “All they do is sit and stare at a small screen. It’s like they don’t care about the world around them.”

As he speaks, I can’t help but to think about Grandfather’s words. All I wanted to do was play. I wanted to be a kid, but I didn’t have that luxury. I look down at my steeping cider, I think about my boys. I wish they’d take things more seriously. I wish they’d understood the world is not going to hand things to them for free. That I or Carrie are not going to be there for them all the time.

“…but I wish I wasn’t so hard on them,” Mr. Ridgeway says. “I wish I would have let them be kids. Maybe then, they would want to see us more.”

He looks up and I see a glimmer in his eye. I flash a smirk and take a sip of the cider. As I take in the sights of play, I feel a surge of sweetness and tartness down my throat. I feel the bite of the cinnamon. I can’t stop smiling. 

“What did I tell you?”

The screen door flings open. Mrs. Ridgeway pops out. 

“Carl, we need to go to the hospital right now.”

I rush out the house to the pumpkin patch. I see Keith hold his arm stiff. Alex stands over him, crying along with his brother. I kneel down. 

“What happened?”

“I’m not sure. I turned my back for a few seconds. Next thing I knew, the boys are crying.”

I look to the boys. Already I feel my blood heating up.

“What were you thinking? I told you you can’t run around like that.”

I feel a hand on my shoulders.

“It’ll be okay, James. Accidents happen. We’ll get them taken care of.”

The laser stare tapers. My tense body relaxes. I reach for my boys and hug them. 

“I’m sorry. I just don’t want you guys to get hurt. Your mom would freak out if anything happened to you two.”

I hear the car pull up just as the sun begins to descend. I carry Keith to the car with Alex following close by. I strap him in, making sure his arm is not caught up. I sit beside him and Alex scoots beside me. We fasten our seat belts as Mr. Ridgeway closes the door behind us. Once everyone is in, we move. The car shakes as we travel down the bumpy dirt road. I see the innocence in my boys. I smile as I embrace them. It’s in this moment that I decide to release the leash. I can’t hold onto them forever, but I can love them forever. 

The Chase (A Flash Fiction Hive Piece)


Good afternoon,

It’s been a good while since I’ve posted a story on this blog. So, it’s about time I change that. Today’s story comes from the Flash Fiction Hive on Twitter. For today’s prompt, I chose a favorite from this month and created a new story from it. I decided on the color prompt (August 4th). Hope you enjoy this one.  Continue reading “The Chase (A Flash Fiction Hive Piece)”

Unnoticed


Photo courtesy of Flash Fiction Hive.

Good afternoon,

As one of my goals this month, I want to start posting more stories onto my blog. Fortunately, the Flash Fiction Hive on Twitter (@FlashFicHive) has been a big help to me. Though I haven’t written a lot of stories based on their prompts, they’ve at least provided the fuel for my creativity.

Today, the Hive presented a “Mix and Match” prompt. Here’s the result. I hope you enjoy it.  Continue reading “Unnoticed”

First Kiss

Inspired by another prompt from Lori Carlson, this scene again takes place in an elevator, but under different circumstances. It should be noted that the names of the characters have been changed so as to not offend anyone. Enjoy.

Prompt: You’re stuck in an elevator with someone from your past. Write the scene. 

I ran to the elevator, hoping to catch it before it closed. Continue reading “First Kiss”

“Eye” Salute You

Lori Carlson wrote a scene on her Promptly Written blog, and I thought I would give it a try. 

Prompt: You’re stuck in an elevator with an intriguing stranger. Write the scene.

As the elevator door closed, a hand wedged itself in between. It belonged to a grey-bearded man with a camouflage cap.  He looked at me like I was supposed to hold the door for him, or something. I was already running late for my appointment and didn’t want the hassle. The door closed and the elevator started moving. He didn’t press anything. There was no possible way he was getting off the same floor I was. 

There was a stench about him I couldn’t put my finger on. It was like a combination of pain cream and perspiration. I tried not to wretch. There was some rope wrapped around his corduroys. I couldn’t imagine that keeping them from falling down to his ankles. He then turned to me with those icy sad eyes. I tried not to make eye contact with him. Instead, I focused on the cap with stars lining the brim. He took the hat off, almost daring me to look at him. It was entrancing, borderline hypnotic. It was as if he wanted me to know his story without him saying a word. He walked toward me. I couldn’t move. He leaned to me with those eyes for what seemed like an eternity. 

The elevator bell rang. He stepped back and nodded his head. The door opened and he marched out. I stood bewildered.  The door closed, but I didn’t care.