Some revenge is good piping hot.

I’ve been a bit too busy to try the Friday Fictioneers prompt lately. But as I wrote a comment (a rather long one — 50 words) on Dale’s story, I realized maybe I could expand it to make a story of my own. So here it is:

PHOTO PROMPT © Todd Foltz

Catherine peeled an eye open at 4 a.m. Okay, today she would march over to her neighbors and complain. It might be natural for a rooster to crow at dawn. It wasn’t natural for the same rooster to crow at brunch… and lunch… and tea… and dinner… and high tea… and supper… and apparently just to say goodnight. Or was he just that good with the ladies?

But before she could open her mouth, her neighbor said, “Hi! I was just coming over to invite you and the rest of our neighbors to dinner tonight. We’re having chicken pot pie!”

Write your own story to the picture prompt, post it wherever you post things and then click on Froggie’s link and join the fun! Everybody welcome!

“Show, don’t tell” — does it just apply to writers?

Show me!

Every writer has been admonished, “Show, don’t tell!” There are blogs and articles and arguments galore. It refers to the use of words. It refers to using description to bring events alive in the reader’s mind and heart, rather than flat narrative that tells the reader what’s happening and how they should feel about it.

It occurred to me that the rule doesn’t just apply to writers.

There’s a lot on social media right now, in words to this effect: “You should wake up! You should understand! You should learn more! You should do more!”

I try not to use the word “should”. It’s too often used by someone who wants to tell the rest of the world how to live. I admire (and listen to) people who show me examples, show me ideas, show me the truth. Who don’t tell me what I “should” do.

And it’s not always other people who tell us that.

My aunt and I once sat in her lovely back yard, sipping ice tea. She moaned that she had been invited to volunteer at a local charity group, but she hadn’t gone yet. “I know I should, but I just can’t seem to make myself find the time. I feel so guilty!”

I said, “Don’t ‘should’ on yourself.”

She looked torn between confusion and laughter, but I meant what I said. If you sincerely believe it’s the right thing to do, then do it. If you don’t believe it, then don’t. And if you’re simply hesitant or reluctant, figure out why and look for answers – all the answers you can find. Don’t tell yourself what you should do. Don’t tell me what you should do. Show me what you’re doing.

And don’t let someone else tell you what you should or shouldn’t feel guilty about. Figure it out for yourself.

You can tell me what you feel guilty about. I’ll probably put it in a book. But I won’t tell my readers what it’s like to be you – I’ll show them how it makes you feel and what it makes you do. As soon as you figure out what “it” is.

So to quote Eliza Doolittle:

Words, words, words!
I’m so sick of words
I get words all day through
First from him, now from you
Is that all you blighters can do?

Don’t talk of stars, burning above
If you’re in love, show me!
Tell me no dreams, filled with desire
If you’re on fire, SHOW ME!

Hank Phillippi Ryan does it again

Just finished a 1st Readers ARC copy of Hank Phillippi Ryan’s new book, “The First to Lie“. Hold onto your seat – this book isn’t a roller coaster ride, it’s the Wild Mouse! Starts out slow and easy, but then don’t think you’re just going to go down – you’re going for a ride!

It’s almost too many lies to take in. My head was in a whirl for the first half, trying to follow who was who, even when I thought I knew (I never did). Three-fourths of the way in, it all starts to come together, but just wait! There’s one last dizzying reveal (or would that be two?).

It’s coming out August 4th.

How’s your COVID going?

I’m doing okay with my world. As I’ve heard many working writers say, for us, things haven’t changed much. I enjoy the birds chirping as I drink my morning coffee, have a quick walk on country roads and then go to my home computer and try to be creative. Same old same old. I will say, one nice thing about virtual writers-group meetings is that, since I’m not driving anywhere, I can have a nice glass of wine while we talk books, etc. Always accentuate the positive!

How about you? I know things are vastly rougher for a lot of folks, but hang in there. My father grew up in the Depression and sometimes a slice of bread with white flour gravy was what they had for dinner. Not because they couldn’t afford anything else, but because there wasn’t anything else to buy. Fear of want colored the rest of his life and sometimes his fear affected my life. We will not let this happen again. This country and its people are too strong. Together we will figure out new ways to cope.

Among other projects, I took a break to write a 100-word story from this week’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt, courtesy of Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Click on the link to read her great story. Meanwhile:

PHOTO PROMPT © David Stewart

Sharon pulled her coat tight around her and stared at the still water in the city fountain. When she left the station, she’d simply picked a direction to walk. But instead of bars and hotels, she’d found dark office towers and shuttered government buildings. Life’s big question: keep walking nowhere? Or return to nothing?

She jumped when rainbow colors suddenly lit up the square. The still water, set free, danced high in joyous leaps. A city worker at the control module grinned and threw up his arms as if to say, “What better place than here?”

She laughed and agreed.

Feel like joining in? Click on the froggie, read other writers’ stories, comment, and then post your own! We promise to be gentle.

The Winter of His Discontent

It’s time for another Friday Fictioneers entry. The challenge is to write a 100-word story in response to a weekly photo prompt chosen by our host Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Follow the link to her blog for more information and join the fun!

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

She’d arrived early to get their old corner table. There was no one else in the room and she felt vulnerable. Floor-to-ceiling windows sent a wintry chill over her ankles and shoulders, but her shivers weren’t from that. He’d insisted on meeting at the same place he’d asked her to marry him ten summers ago.  Did it mean he’d changed his mind about leaving her?

He walked toward her carelessly, ignoring the empty tables. And his eyes were cold as the ice on the windows. Now she remembered. This was the just sort of thing he called “breaking it gently”.

Family Secrets

It’s time for another Friday Fictioneers entry. The challenge is to write a 100-word story in response to a weekly photo prompt chosen by our host Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Follow the link to her blog for more information.

PHOTO PROMPT © C.E.Ayr

It was time to repair the house her parents had left to them. Camille swung her sledge hammer and smashed a hole in the bedroom wall. Keith yanked at the rotted drywall and pulled out a bunch of insulation.

“Hey, Cam, there’s an old photo stuck here between the joists. Looks like Paris. Is that your mother? In a mini-skirt? Who’s the guy with her?”

“It can’t be Mama. She never went anywhere in her life. If she’d ever been to Paris, she’d have told me.”

“Somebody’s written ‘Corinne 1985’ on the back. Looks like she didn’t tell you everything.”

Discipline, Schmiscipline

People in my writers group look at me funny when I tell them I warm up my muse by working on 100-word stories to picture prompts on “Friday Fictioneers”. That just doesn’t seem serious to some of them. Well, that’s the whole point – I’m playing. But I’m playing with my creative mind, preparing to get down to the serious stuff.

Since I retired, discipline isn’t the problem — I mean the discipline that used to be involved in just trying to find the strength to either write after a ten-hour day or get up at the crack of dawn before a ten-hour day. Once I retired, that just fell away. It takes no discipline for me to wake up to a new day, sit on my glassed-in breezeway (sunny or not), drink coffee and read a good book. Then, primed with caffeine and a dose of literature, I get dressed (pjs are deadly for me), sit at my desk and start with either the aforementioned prompt, a journal entry or maybe I’ll work on a friendly blog post. Then, as I said, I get down to the “serious” stuff of writing novels or short stories. (A lot of my short stories grow straight out of the prompts, etc., but for some reason, never the novels.) Sometimes I could cry to think of so much of my life being wasted on “earning a living”! But, of course, it was never really wasted – it all goes into those prompts, journal entries, blogs — and the serious stuff.

Maybe if I had tried warming up with prompts or journal entries from the beginning, I might have found the strength I needed. Because the real discipline is in getting the muse to stick around if the serious stuff starts to bog down in the middle. But that’s another story.

Stop, Look and Listen

Another 100-word story from a picture prompt. This picture warms my heart when I look at it. Thank you, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Strange how many of these I write in dialogue, and yet usually dialogue is the hardest thing for me to write!

PHOTO PROMPT © Jeff Arnold

“How long do you suppose she had this old thing?”

“I remember her typing on it before I was in school.  Every night with a glass of wine.  She said she was writing her own stories and offered to read them to me, but I never had time to listen.”

“Look!  A drawer full of envelopes.  They’re manuscripts.  There a note attached to each one.  ‘Thank you for your submission.  It does not suit our needs at this time’.  Look at the postmark on this one.  It’s from forty years ago!”

“Are they all rejections?”

“Looks like it.”

“Oh, Grandma.”

As always, please click on the frog and share your own story!

Only 95 words this time!

Here’s my story via this week’s photo prompt from Rochelle Wisoff-Fields and Friday Fictioneers.

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

The boy craned his neck, staring upward at the outlandish sign.

“Grandpa, how’d they put that car way up there?”

“Probably used some kind of a crane.”

“Why’d they do it?”

“You’d have to ask the guy who put it there.”

“Is he in that there diner?”

“I doubt it.  It’s been closed for a lot of years.”

“How come he didn’t take the car down, then?”

“Maybe he lost the crane.”

The boy pondered the sign for a moment.  “You know something, Grandpa?  I hope he never finds it.”

“Me too, boy.  Me too.”

Click on the frog and join the fun! Read a few stories, write your own and post it. We promise to be gentle.

Life Without Toilet Paper

After the coronavirus grabbed everyone’s attention, my first question was, “Is diarrhea a symptom of COVID 19?”  No?  Then WTH?

Throughout history, when a pandemic struck, or war or famine, people worried about shortages of food, water, medicine, or even blankets.  Here in 2020 America, we are scared shitless (pun intended) of running out of TOILET PAPER?

I wonder if it’s all a symptom of raising kids who have never wanted for anything, and I mean anything.  Kids who refuse to sit in the car without NetFlix or their preferred mode of texting or at least an X-Box.  Who refuse to learn how to cook fish over a fire at camp and want to know why they can’t just order pizza . . . delivered.  Kids who want to go to the store and buy more clothes if the washer breaks down.  People who call off work because their car broke down and taking the bus requires them to get out of bed half an hour earlier, and that’s obviously cruel and unusual.

And saying this is all a symptom of my age, I’m sure.  I walked miles to school, only got three gifts for Christmas and made them last a year, blah, blah, blah.  Actually we boomers had it pretty good.  Good enough to spend our time getting politically involved and making a nuisance of ourselves.  But we did care about someone other than ourselves.  Okay, when Mom told us about the “poor children in Africa”, we suggested sending our leftover broccoli casserole, but still, sometimes I think we hippies took the concept “share” to another level.

My mother also told me of shortages during World War II.  Women wore shorter skirts and drew lines up the back of their bare legs to simulate nylon stockings.  When things got tougher, they worked out how to grow food in backyards and take it to people who didn’t have a backyard.  After it was over, the American government dropped food (and toilet paper?) to the people we’d defeated.  Thirty years later my friends and I packed up stuff like toilet paper and sent it to soldiers in Vietnam.  And then did it again for soldiers in Kuwait.

It’s hard not to throw my hands up in despair.  What on earth do today’s Americans think they’re going to do if there are ever any real shortages?  This isn’t World War III, kids, but if it ever comes to that, I don’t think I’ll want to depend on people who absolutely can’t imagine life without toilet paper.