Tuesday Teaser – Cheerful Spectator

Since I’m writing a short every week, I should have something to pull from each week for Teaser Tuesday, but since my NaNo peeps could potentially read the story here before my Thursday night write-in, I’m going to pull from the week before (until I have novel stuff to use, obviously).  I actually haven’t written this week’s write-in story anyway.

This is from last week’s story.  The prompt was (for whatever reason) called “The Cheerful Spectator,” and the goal was to have a POV character who couldn’t influence the stuff going on.  These are the same characters as the Valentine’s Day teaser.  Laurie = Ren, and this is set in the past, before Blake could see and hear him.

“What’s going on?” Blake asked.  “What are you doing with my Hot Wheels track?”

“Magic,” Joy said gleefully.  And then to my dismay, she began to say words that sounded an awful lot like how I’d try to pronounce the words in that book.

“Joy!”  I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I doubted very much that she would end up with Tinker Bell, even if she recited the words correctly.  I flew towards her and rammed into an invisible wall.  The track, the stupid circle that the picture showed keeping the fairy creatures in, was keeping me out.  “Blake, do something.”  Humans could break circles more easily than spirits.  But Blake was frozen, apparently mesmerized by what had to be the first serious working he’d ever seen.  “Get Shannon!  Get your grandmother!” I yelled at him, but my words were falling on deaf ears.

I should have gotten Shannon—it wasn’t like I was doing any good there anyway—but I couldn’t leave them.  They were just kids, and Joy was doing a working that was way beyond them.

There was a burst of light, and I instinctively drifted back, shielding my eyes with one hand.  Suddenly Blake’s hand grabbed my other one, although I can’t tell you how he found it.  I squeezed his hand, and if I could have held my breath, I would have.

The light faded, and Blake looked at his hand clasping my invisible one and let go quickly, looking flustered.  I might have been insulted or amused, but I was too focused on Joy.  Three balls of light circled her, as if examining her.  The lights changed color, randomly.  I didn’t know if they were fairies or what, but they sure did look like they could be.

Luckily, Blake didn’t move.  If he broke the circle now, he’d free the beings, and we didn’t know what they were.  On the other hand, if they were malevolent, I’d rather have them out here than stuck in there with Joy.

Joy was delighted.  “See?  I’m just like Grandpa.  I got the fairies to come.”

“Uh huh.  Just don’t move too suddenly,” I said, frustrated that she couldn’t hear me.

One light circled Joy’s feet, as if checking out her pink sandals, while another wove itself through her hair, leaving glowing rainbow sparkles in the brown curls her mother had put in her hair, taking advantage of Joy’s princess phase.

The third light floated in front of her face.

“Hi, I’m Joy.  What’s your name?” she asked the light.  The light hovered before her eyes, and then it touched her right between them.  I like to believe it was a true fairy and it kissed her there.  Then, as sudden as they had come, the lights disappeared, leaving Joy alone in the circle.

That’s when Blake finally had the bright idea to go find his grandmother.  He bolted from the room, calling for her.

I moved my hand towards the circle and was relieved to see it go through.  Joy watched me as I approached and put my hand in her still-glowing hair.

“Laurie,” she said, half-scolding me, half-laughing at me, “you’re a boy.”

I met her eyes and was surprised to find that I was truly meeting them.  For once she was looking right at me instead of in my general direction.  She, more than anyone else who can only sense me, sometimes still seems to have that ability, but in that moment, she could see me.

I put a finger to my lips.  Shannon thought it was hilarious that Blake and Joy thought “Laurie” was a girl.  She thought it was easier to explain me as her best friend, rather than her old boyfriend, particularly since I’m not Blake’s grandfather and will always be a teenager no matter how old Shannon gets.

Joy mimicked my finger-to-the-lips move, and I winked at her.  I scooped some rainbow lights from her hair and blew them into the air, where they floated like bubbles.  Joy danced around, waving her arms in the air trying to catch them.  I had no idea what they were—maybe fairy dust or fairy droppings, for all I knew–but they each eventually blinked out.

When they were all gone, Joy spun around until she was facing me, but I could tell she couldn’t see me anymore.  My spirits fell; it felt like a loss, rather than a return to the status quo.

I don’t know if I’ll ever write a sequel to aPB–I have to edit the thing first–but if I do, I’m pretty sure this scene will feature.

Lots of love,
Sage

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Weekly Write-in Prompts

I have always been a little wary of writing prompts.  To me, writing prompts have always felt like they were writing for the sake of writing.  I’m talking about the type where you, for example, write a detailed description of something every day.  The kind that are meant to work on technique, but not to tell a story.

Well, recently my write-in group has decided that we’re going to do a prompt every week, with a focus on technique.  This sounds like the type of thing I was complaining about, but instead I’ve found that the prompts we’ve been choosing have inspired their own stories or parts of stories.  We’ve mainly been using prompts from a book called The 3 a.m. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises that Transform your Fiction by Brian Kiteley.  As the title suggestions, these prompts aren’t your normal prompts.  Sure you have things like writing a scene while focusing on scent (totally the kind of prompt that I’d have rolled my eyes over before), except the prompt suggestions go beyond that, suggesting how you can incorporate that initial prompt idea and make it richer.  So the scent-writing prompt became (as interpreted to us in our weekly write-in e-mail):

Describe a place by its scent. Don’t let the olfactory sense overwhelm your description. Instead, use it as an unconscious trigger of memory.

Well, upon reading that, my imagination takes me somewhere totally different from just “write a scene, focusing on scent.”  In fact, I do my little Sage Logic thing, and go with the last POV character you would expect me to for this prompt.

The one who can’t smell.

Yep, I totally established in A Paranormal Bromance that Ren, my ghost, cannot smell.  So instead of using his best friend Blake, who hates scented things and would be perfect for this prompt, I use the one who can’t possibly describe a place by its scent.  Or can he?  The “place” part of it was important to me too.  Once I established that I was going to use Ren (and, to some extent, olfactophobe Blake), I knew I had to draw on the magic-based scents that they would find the magic store where Blake’s cousin works.  Since I always had this romantic notion that Ren would eventually fall for Blake’s cousin, I had the beginnings of a story right there.  They go in, scents are everywhere, Blake goes to the back to escape them, leaving Ren to flirt with the girl who can’t see or hear him.  And from here, it’s the “memory” part of the prompt that really allows me to complete the prompt.  Ren can’t smell now, but he’s surrounded by scents he recognizes from before he died, and he ends up relating Blake’s cousin to the romance with Shannon he had before dying thanks to those scents.  The sage she’s smudging reminds him of how Shannon’s house smelled after she cleansed it.  The patchouli in her hair and sandalwood on her skin reminds him how Shannon smelled, since she used them the same way.  He has an unspoken moment of relating Shannon to Blake’s cousin and believing that he can smell everything in that room, and then the atmosphere is shattered by outsiders.

So, yeah, it managed to take the type of prompt that I dislike and turn it into something that was easy to build off of into a story.

Not every prompt is that easy.  I thought this week’s, which I chose because it seemed like my kind of thing, would be a piece of cake, but I find myself stuck on it.  There are a few moments of idea, but nothing that inspires a short story out of me.

Of course, then there are weeks like a few weeks ago, where I was inspired to write a 9K story.  That was a ton of fun.  At least for me.  I can’t speak to my NaNo Peeps who then had a 9K story in front of them, instead of a 500-word story.

In the end, we decided that nobody had to feel obligated to do the prompts, but I’ve never missed one yet.  They’re meant to keep us writing on weeks where we’re stuck on or in between projects, while also learning.  And I must say, it’s nice to have a new story each week and then almost immediately share it (nobody has to share either, although we always have).  It’s a sweet bit of instant gratification.  And it’s already inspired two (but really three) novels, which, in the end, is where my strengths lie in writing.  In fact, my last one continued with the Ren and Blake’s cousin storyline, just in case I ever write a sequel to that book.

Anyway, despite my initial wariness over writing prompts, these are proving to be lots of fun.

How do you feel about writing prompts?  Or do you have any good or bad ones you’ve done?

Lots of love,
Sage

 

 

Valentine’s Day Teaser

I haven’t posted in a while, but, hey, I’ve barely written in a year too, that’s to be expected.  The last book I wrote that I loved was 2 NaNoWriMos ago, and that was A Paranormal Bromance, which is what I’m supposed to be revising these days.  In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d post a little date scene from aPB and show you just how annoying it might be if you had to bring your own personal ghost as chaperone on your dates.  This scene is actually from the POV of Ren, the ghost.  Shannon was Ren’s girlfriend before he became a ghost (and also Blake’s grandmother).

Blake must be the worst air hockey player in the world.  I try to help him out, blowing on the puck so that it falls into Julie’s goal, but it doesn’t seem to help his score go up.

I suppose that yelling “Geronimo!” every time he goes to hit the puck is probably not the most helpful thing I could do, but it’s fun.

“You really are bad at this,” I tell him.  I poke his arm a few times.  “You should let me play for you.”

“Not now,” he says under his breath.

Julie smiles.

I think she thinks he’s crazy.  Which is totally okay with me.  I mean, if a girl can’t handle a little crazy, what kind of girl is she to date my Blake?  Shannon would not approve.

I slam my hand down on top of the puck just after she hits it, and it stops dead.

Julie stares at it as it spins in place where I left it.  “Wow.”

“Don’t say anything.  It will only encourage him.”

“Like I need you to say something to encourage me.  Hey, you should offer her a soda or something.  Girls get thirsty, you know.  God, you’re really bad at this.”

I float off and leave them alone for a little while.  Nobody can say that I am not sometimes considerate.

I’ve never been to an arcade before.  It is really loud and colorful and dark at the same time.  I watch over people’s shoulders, cheering them on even though they can’t hear me.  Maybe my positive vibes are enough to get them a good score.  When a little boy loses a racing game, I reconsider this viewpoint.

Blake is playing a game where he controls a claw and tries to grab a toy from inside.  I know this game.  We had them on the boardwalk in California.  I won a stuffed bear for Shannon way back when.  She doesn’t have it anymore.  She had me to remember me by instead, I guess.

Blake fails to get anything, so Julie takes a turn.  She gets a little stuffed zombie.  It makes her laugh.  She’s clearly not as afraid of zombies as she is of ghosts.

“Ooh, try again, Blake,” I say, getting an idea.  I shift through the machine and end up in the center.

“That’s cheating, man.”

Julie follows his gaze over to me, and probably figures out who he’s talking to because she doesn’t look hurt like she did last time he said something mean to me.

“Come on, I’ll help you win her a teddy bear.”

“Do you want a teddy bear?” he asks her.

She hugs her zombie.  “I got a zombie.  Teddy bears need not apply.”

“She is weird,” I say.  This prompts a rare smile from him.

“How about a soda?” he says.

“That, you can get me.”

I punch the air, but Blake’s totally ignoring me, leading Julie to the refreshments counter.  They play a few more games, but I’m over it.  I sit on the edge of a pinball machine and watch them from afar.  After those first stupid attempts at conversation that Blake tried, he’s hit his stride, and I can see him telling Julie about his music choices.  I know because he’s air drumming.  Julie must have different tastes because he makes a face at her after she starts talking, but the thing is…it’s not like it’s stopped him from talking to her.  He’s still interested.  He doesn’t even look uncomfortable trying to figure out how to relate to her.

He looks happy.

In three years, I’ve never seen Blake look happy.

I lean my elbows on my knees and my chin on my folded arms, just watching them.  It’s nice.  I’ve been trying to make Blake smile like that for years.  Maybe they’ll fall in love and get engaged and get married and live happily together forever.  He’s already older than I was when I got engaged to Shannon, after all.  He’ll always be older than me now.  Much too old to have never fallen in love.

This is good.

I’m bored.

Yeah, enough of this.  I take off and somersault through the air to the refreshment stand.  Someone has left their paper boat of onion rings sitting on this counter for fifteen minutes, and I don’t think they’re coming back for them.  With some concentration, I scoop the container into my hand.  It takes no concentration, however, to pick up an onion ring and fling it towards Blake’s table.  The first toss misses it’s goal, bouncing off the table and landing on the floor, but the second catches on the straw of his soda cup and twirls around it before settling on the lid.

I throw another, hoping to succeed again at this game of onion ring toss, but this one goes wild and hits Blake in the temple.  “Hey!”

“Oops.”

Hopefully now that I’m out of the writing doldrums, I’ll be posting more.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Lots of love,

Sage