July 8, 2016 ~ JF

“Imagine that you are unable to leave the room that you’re in for the next 7 days. Chronicle each of the seven days using only 50 words each.”

Day One

Don’t know what happened. Maybe an earthquake or a bomb. I remember a loud noise and then jolting, slipping. If anyone else is still alive here I can’t hear them. It was late; people were starting to head home so maybe they all made it. My head hurts and I…

Day Two

This is the second day since whatever happened. I think. I might have passed out when I tried to write things down last time, pretty sure. I remembered people screaming at first. I found the vending machine. The glass was broken. The water fountain is only dripping. I’m so thirsty.

Day Three

Remembered the LED on keychain. Found water cooler. Not full, but better than drips. Head still hurts. Found baby wipes in Marci’s desk. Happy to wipe off blood. Remembered the daycare is down a floor. Sick. Can’t get into bathroom. Emptied a file cabinet for… Think maybe I hear scratching.

Day Four

There’re digging sounds over my head. Building must have collapsed. That was the slipping I felt. At least someone’s trying to find me. I’m so glad I found water. There’s not a lot of real food in the machine, but it’ll probably keep me alive. I hear the scratching again.

Day Five

The digging sounds are closer. If I hold my breath I can almost hear rescue workers shouting to each other between my heartbeats. The water is getting low, so I’m glad they’re getting closer…Something happened. I think it’s the same day. Part of this room collapsed. Vending machine was there.

Day Six

I still have water. Put trashcan under water fountain to collect drips. Working so far. I’ll be okay if I run out of the other. So hungry. They sound closer. I hope. Help coming soon. LED looks dimmer. Don’t want to waste it looking for food unless I get desperate.

Day Seven

Digging has stopped. LED died last night. Found something squishy in a desk. I ate it anyway. Didn’t throw up. Water cooler empty, but trashcan full. Scratching sounds started again. Louder. If I listen I can hear the others. They’re looking for me. But I don’t think they are alive.

July 6, 2016 ~ JF

“Write a poem, 12 rhyming lines, about getting increasingly drunk.”

Friday

Someone unqualified seems to be in charge of the jukebox,

But the bartender is a next level raven haired fox.

Do I want tequila, whiskey, vodka, gin?

You ready to pour? I’m going all in.

What’s this putrid sweet oppressive goo?

Sour Mix? In a Margarita? Honey, let me come around there and show you what to do.

Tequila, Cointreau, Lime juice, Ice, Kosher Salt.

Amateur. You tend bar like Rand writing about John Galt.

This is not chemistry, kid; it’s art, it’s alchemy.

Keep ‘em comin’ done right and when I tip I won’t be able to see.

“Whoo!” says my brain. I could do this all night!

Next morning though, tread softly and leave off the light.

July 5, 2016 ~ JF

“Write a conversation about a man who calls a wrong number and ends up talking to an angry woman. End the conversation with the line ‘Well, I suppose so’.”

Ed reached into the back pocket of his jeans for his cell. It slipped from his grasp and fell onto the floor. There was a distinct and depressing crunching sound. Someday, he thought ruefully, he would get his head out of his ass and buy a decent case. This was his third phone in as many months. He got carefully off from his perch on the barstool and retrieved his phone, sure Salvatore would let him use the bar’s phone, but knowing in his present state there was no way he could remember Frank’s number. And the bastard owed him one for playing Taxi the last time he’d tied one on. As he’d suspected, the screen was spider cracked all over. Crap. Crap. Crap.

He squinted at the icons through the web of broken glass and hit what looked like his contacts button. The destruction that used to be his iPhone caused him to swear quietly when he got a splinter of glass in this thumb as he tried to scroll. Between sucking his bleeding thumb, the fuzzy buzzing in his head, and the fact that he’d worked the early today following on 2nd shift last night he was only half certain that he’d hit Frank’s name, but he brought the phone up anyway.

“Ed, you son of a bitch,” was the icy greeting that met his ear.

Oh hell. “Ginny. Shit, I’m sorry.”

“You damned well ought to be!” There was more emotion in her voice now but, not unexpectedly, it wasn’t pleasant.

“Look, I didn’t mean to call you. I don’t even know what time it is.” Now he could hear that he was slurring a little. Damn, his bar tab was going to be impressive when he had to settle up.

“Color me surprised.” There was a lot of contempt there, but it wasn’t venomous as it had been the last time they spoke.

“I was just trying to call Franny for a ride. My phone’s busted.”

“Again? Just how drunk are you Eddie?” He hated it when she just had his number without even looking at him. It was like freaking witchcraft.

Now Ed was starting to feel a little annoyed back. “Well, pretty damn drunk I guess. I hate my job.”

Her voice softened, “You’re still there?”

Ed was defensive, “Yeah, even though it blows.”

There was a knowing note in her voice now, “And you’re at Sal’s place to cope with that fact.”

His inebriation caused some petulance to creep into his voice. “I don’t wanna crash with my folks forever and I can’t do rent on my own.”

“That’s your own fault, Eddie, and you know it, so don’t try to guilt trip me. I haven’t even taken my sneakers off yet from job number two and I’ve got a 7:30 in the morning. Tomorrow’s Tuesday. In case you forgot.”

“I know what day it is,” he snapped, even though that was 100% not true.

He was pulling so many odd shifts trying to get enough money together to get back into school that the days were starting to blend into each other. The dorm was better than with his parents for sure, but damned if he didn’t miss the mattress on the floor of the crappy apartment he and Ginny had shared all semester, until he’d blown it over summer break. Getting fired, then arrested for pissing on that dumpster…at least that cop had been decent enough to just call it disorderly conduct and vandalism and not public urination. If he’d wound up on the sex offender registry for being drunk and stupid, Ginny wouldn’t even care enough to chew him out. She wouldn’t have answered her phone. She’d kicked him out after that; her name was on the lease after all; told him not to call her unless he dried himself out a little and got his shit together. She couldn’t afford to deal with his childish crap her senior year. She had law school admissions to worry about. He’d lost his financial aid and had to drop out of school on top of everything else.

“Ginny, I’m sorry. I’m trying to get myself together. I am.”

“Sure you are, Ace. Which is why you called me on your broken phone. By accident. From Sal’s. Where I am sure there is now a paucity of tequila.” Now she just sounded weary.

“It’s not like that…I hardly ever do this anymore.”

“Really?” She honestly hoped that was true. She actually loved the dumbass. She just wasn’t going to get sucked in to his bullshit.

“I haven’t been here in a couple of months. Hell, I’m the guy the old crew usually calls for rides now. And I know better than to get behind the wheel like this, myself.”

He could hear her breathing but she didn’t say anything.

“That why I was calling Frank for a lift. Douche owes me one. I picked him up off the strip a couple weeks ago and he puked all down the door of my truck. I had to take it apart and everything. Hot wings, vodka, and stomach acid are not the sweetest perfume a guy could hope to ride to work with.”

She gave a soft laugh. God, he’d missed that sound.

“I’m not sobstory-ing or anything, but my ‘rents got into another one of their “let’s throw things at each other and scream” contests and I just had to get the hell out. I don’t know why I came to Sal’s. Just seemed like the thing to do.” He sighed.

“It seemed safe.” Her voice was quiet, sympathetic.

“Yeah…I guess that’s it.” He took a deep breath, and said in a rush, “Last place I felt safe was with you.”

She drew in her breath sharply. “Eddie, I…”

“I’m sorry…You don’t need me crying on your shoulder, even over the phone.” He sighed again. “Go take off your sneakers. Get some sleep. I know your lecture days suck.”

“Eddie,” she paused, not sure if she’d regret what she was about to say, but determined to say it nonetheless. “Do you want me to come and pick you up?”

He really did, but he took a second, not wanting her to hear the naked need in his voice and pretty sure he was too lit to hide it. “I…I don’t really want to go home. God knows they’re probably still at it.” He was met with silence, but it felt warm to him, like before all this. “Could I come over…Just to sleep on the couch? I’m off tomorrow; I’d clean your place to return the favor. Maybe we could talk when you get out of class…Please?”

When she answered it was full of her old humor, full of promise. “Well, I suppose so.”

July 7, 2016 ~ JF

“The object on your left just turned into the object on your right. Write 250 or a 25 line poem about your reaction.”

The Mirror

I’m at my desk, obsessively proofreading, like any other morning. I notice I’ve accidentally used ‘their’ instead of ‘they’re’. Hell and damn. I guess that’s what you get for writing half asleep. I reach for my mouse to eradicate this grammatical travesty, instead coffee sloshes on my hand.

“Huh.” It’s a surprised sort of sound.

I’d lost track of my surroundings. I glance down, admonishing myself to be more careful, and my stomach drops. Everything on my desk is reserved. Not just out of place. A mirror image of what I’d sat down to. I’m breathing faster, feeling panicky nervous sweat between my shoulder blades. I want to act, but I’m momentarily frozen. What do you even do in this situation?

Then I start to calm down. Obviously I call 911 because clearly I’m having a stroke. Or maybe the day job finally caused that nervous breakdown I’m always joking about, haha. I get up slowly. The cat perched on the back of my chair is white with pink eyes. My breathing picks up again. Not hyperventilating, but damned close.

Then I see her.

In the mirror hanging on the wall opposite my writing desk there is another me, sitting in my chair with everything looking the way it should. She glances over her shoulder and meet’s my eyes. For a moment blue meets blue, then hers flash dangerous red. Through the glass I can make out the sounds of my family coming downstairs.

She smiles.

I see her teeth.

July 4, 2016 ~ JF

“Write 250 words based on the next piece of dialogue you hear.”

I was engaging in my 4th of July tradition of binge watching Firefly when I remembered that I’m participating in this pesky writing challenge. If you don’t already watch the show, you should gorram start. Happy Independence Day!

Badger ~ “What were you in the war? In that big war you failed to win? You were a sergeant, yeah? Sergeant Malcolm Reynolds…balls and bayonets brigade. Big, tough, veteran. Now you got yourself a ship and you’re a captain. Only I think, you’re still a sergeant. See? Still a soldier. A man of honor in a den of thieves. Well, this is my gorram den, and I don’t like the way you look down on me. I’m above you, better than! Businessman, see? Roots in the community. You’re just a scavenger.”

Mal ~ “Well, maybe I’m not a fancy gentleman like you, with your…very fine hat. But I do business. We’re here for business.”

Ever noticed how when you have the upper hand with someone insecure, their default defense is to try to make you feel small? I’ve dealt with that a lot in the last year or so, or at least I’ve become more aware of it. The difference between being a good guy and being a bad guy isn’t just what you do, it’s who you are. Mal doesn’t see himself as a good guy. He doesn’t think much about it. He just does the right thing, even when that right thing happens to be scavenging Alliance supplies and selling them on a border moon, where he’s pretty sure he’s going to get shot. Again.

If you watch Doctor Who (I assume you’re a civilized person), you’ll remember The Doctor killing the Sycorax for going back on a bargain. “No second chances. I’m that sort of a man.” That scene, that line, and the subsequent swishy brown coat, were based on David Tennant’s love for Captain Reynolds.

Whenever I played D&D, my character was always chaotic good. Any alignment personality test I’ve ever taken says that is just who I am. It’s the part of my character that says it doesn’t matter if I’m on the losing side, as long as I’m on the right one. I am the captain of my ship. And I’ll do what I think is right, even if I lose. I’ll tilt at windmills with the best of them. Just do what’s right. See, easy as lyin’.

July 3, 2016 ~ JF

“Write a 15 bullet point list entitled ‘How to be _______’.”

How to be a Better Person

  • Read – Not just stuff you know you like…more of everything.
    • But, you know, if you want to read The Kingkiller Chronicles and endlessly theorize about it with me, I’ll think you’re a good person, probably even if you suck.
  • Go outside – We preserve what we love and I need you to love the planet right now.
    • Also, spending time outdoors has been scientifically proven to make you happier and healthier; and we all want that, don’t we?
  • Listen to music – Not just the shit that was popular when you were in high school or college either. You can listen to that, no one’s stopping you, but listen to old music like Bach and brand new music like The Arctic Monkeys or freaking Taylor Swift.
    • I don’t care; just listen to things you don’t usually listen to. If you’re looking for suggestions I’m currently obsessed with 21 Pilots and Fidlar
  • Watch some independent film.
    • Bonus points if it has Jason Segal or Ryan Reynolds in it.
  • Talk to new people – This one is hard for me, and I’m telling you to do it even if it’s hard for you.
    • Stagnation=Bad. If it’s bad for water, it can’t be good for you. You’re mostly water, you know.
  • Make some art – paint, draw, sing, take up an instrument, write a novel or a poem, write pithy little haikus on sticky notes and leave them in random places for some stranger to find.
    • Expressing what’s inside of you, even if when you begin you do so with faltering steps, unlocks something that can’t be explained, but will definitely make you better.
  • Make friends that don’t live in the same area, have the same religious (or in my case lack of) or political views, or even the same interests – You’ll be better for it.
    • And hey, you might change someone’s mind, or have yours changed.
  • Go to the Farmer’s Market – You’ll probably make some friends, you’ll definitely have fun, and fresh delicious food and meeting the people who grew it is a net good for body and soul.
    • Also, in case you didn’t know, there’s always tons of free samples. Of everything. You wouldn’t believe how buzzed you can get for free if your local market has wine and beer people at it.
  • Cook – From scratch. Preferably with your partner, if you’re one of us lucky people who have one. If you don’t and you want one, take a cooking class.
    • You’d be amazed the kind of intimacy that can be developed over a cutting board or a hot stove. Communication, cooperation, sharing the rewards – cooking is everything a good relationship should be. I recommend a bottle of wine and feeding each other bites along the way. But don’t get distracted. Something will catch fire.
  • Play – Soccer, videogames, checkers, cards. For fun. No unhealthy competitive crap. Competition can be good, but fun is important. The older you get, the more often you should have it.
    • Do you want to be that dried up old guy in the retirement home yelling at CNN or do you want to be like the granny who’s outside in the sunshine rollerblading with her earbuds in, broken hips be damned?
  • Laugh – Whatever it is that cracks you up, do that.
    • I, personally, can be cracked up by damn near anything. It’s a funny old world when you think about it.
  • Move – Whatever way you like to; just get your body in motion.
    • It makes you happier and healthier. I like doing Tai Chi. It makes me feel like a supreme ancient warrior badass and the video I have cracks me up because of how the instructor tells you to “Sink the Chi”. He’s just so earnest about it.
  • Travel – You don’t have to have a big pile of money and go on a grand tour of Europe (although that would be freaking awesome). Going to new places and meeting new people, trying local food, getting out of your neighborhood will change your perspective.
    • Just get in the car and go. Drive to a town you’ve never visited, hit up your state’s historical sites. If you’re broke, go for a hike and take a picnic. But if you can still see your house, you’re doing it wrong.
  • Get excited – Jump up and down, have enthusiasms! Get into a fandom. Start a collection! Go adopt a pet! Do something that you can be psyched about.
    • Fair warning, if you go the fandom route, beware of tumbler. The internet is basically one big sexy briar patch and you might not be ready.
  • Stretch yourself everyday – Literally and figuratively.
    • It’s good to be able to touch your toes; it’s even better to be able to hold a new thought in your head.

 

I’m not making this list because I think I’m a better person than you. I’m making it as a reference for how I want to get better. But I really think it will work, so if you want to join me, I think the world will get a little better, too. I really do.

Welcome!

Welcome to our page! We are excited to share our writing journey with you. You can take a look at our author bio to learn more about who we are. On this blog you’ll see publishing progress, writing challenges, excerpts from our novels, short stories and flash fiction, photos and posts about the places we travel to write better settings, a little light fan fic, news about authors, books, and films we’re excited about, and probably some random thoughts too. We hope you enjoy coming along on our adventures.

July 2, 2016 ~ JF

“Write 250 words inspired by the color of the walls in the room that you’re in.”

I wake slowly, stretching in a sunbeam. It’s moved since I first dozed off, so I shift. I roll over on my back, so it can warm my belly. You can never have a warm enough belly, really. I peel an eye open. Little motes of dust are swirling in and out of the pleasant cozy streams coming in through my bird watching spot. I sort of want to do something about them, but I’m too comfortable to care enough. Moving takes so much energy. The fire is crackling merrily across the room from my sunny spot. It might be warmer over there. I can’t decide if I want to go and see.

The door opens, letting in a chilly gust of air that makes me curl away from it. I give my companion a dirty look both for leaving and for coming back. The air was cold both times. Why would anyone in their right mind go out there? Unless they were getting food. I guess if I had to venture into the cold for food, it would be worth it. A full belly is at least as good as a warm one. That reminds me. I stretch again and grudgingly get up from my snug little spot. I’d like it better if someone would bring me a snack.

I have a bite to eat then I curl up in front of the fire. Nothing like a toasty nap, next to your best friend. Being petted is nice, too.

July 1, 2016 ~KF

Set your music player to shuffle and write 250 words inspired by the first and last lines of the first song that plays.

Fun. Some Nights.

Some nights I stay up cashing in my bad luck. Some nights I call it a draw.

Some nights I wish my lips could build a castle. Some nights I’d wish they would fall off.

And:

The other night, you wouldn’t believe the dream I just had about you and me.
I called you up, but we’d both agree:
It’s for the best you didn’t listen,
It’s for the best we get our distance.

Fun crafts fairly complicated, metaphor heavy songs. Some Nights is a personal favorite.

I sit in the car, chain smoking, radio playing. I know what’s waiting for me. I fucked up, again. I could crash at my sister’s…..
No, I’d better just do this, the fight is inevitable and time won’t temper the flame. Not this time.

I can see her shadow under the door, pacing. The door opens before my key touches the lock. God she’s mad; can’t blame her really. She stands there silent.

“Look babe, I just….”

“You just what, figured you go out, not call, again. But I wasn’t worried since you ass dialed me from the bar?”

I’d thought she’d called me; this is worse than I thought.

“Bad enough you let your friends trash me, but what you said you fucking prick. I’m leaving. I’m done.”

“No don’t, wait. It’s not like I meant any of it.” Fuck what did I even say, oh shit no she didn’t hear that.

“No it’s fine I’m done holding you back, besides you’d be happier with Heather right?”

With that she grabs her bag and pushes past me. I call her a few days later. We talk like adults, the first time in a while. We leave it at let’s take a break. But I know it’s over. I was shitty boyfriend, she deserves better.