Archive for March, 2011


Writing Prompt

I subscribe to Writer’s Digest. I love it; it’s one of my vices because it is kind of expensive. But one of the things that I love to do is to enter all of their writing prompt competitions. Needless to say, I haven’t won any of them, but it’s a nice way to get the brain going when it’s parked in neutral.

The prompt this month is:

In 25 words or fewer, wirte an opening sentence – just one – to a story, incorporating the following words: lucky charm, and calamity.

Okay, I admit. I kind of know what calamity means, but I decided to look it up to get the EXACT definition.

According to www.m-w.com:

Definition of CALAMITY

1
: a state of deep distress or misery caused by major misfortune or loss
2
: a disastrous event marked by great loss and lasting distress and suffering <calamities of nature> <an economic calamity>

Examples of CALAMITY

    floods, earthquakes, and other calamities He predicted calamity for the economy. Twenty two years passed. Twenty-two years of excellent health and the boundless self-assurance that flows from being fit—twenty-two years spared the adversary that is illness and the calamity that waits in the wings. —Phillip Roth, Everyman, 2006
    Below that was a definition of Calamity Jane:

Calamity Jane , byname of Martha Jane Burke, née Martha Jane Cannary  (born May 1, 1852?, near Princeton, Mo.?, U.S.—died Aug. 1, 1903, Terry, near Deadwood, S.D.), legendary American frontierswoman whose name was often linked with that of Wild Bill Hickok. The facts of her life are confused by her own inventions and by the successive stories and legends that accumulated in later years.

She allegedly moved westward on a wagon train when still quite young—her mother dying en route and her father dying in Salt Lake City, Utah, leaving her on her own at an early age. During the following several years she wandered about the West, working as cook, dance-hall girl, camp follower, and bawd and doing whatever necessary to earn a living. In the spring of 1876 she ended up in Deadwood, South Dakota, site of new gold strikes, and became a bullwhacker, hauling goods and machinery to the outlying camps. It was probably there that she first met Hickok and knew him only briefly (he was shot dead in a saloon soon after). Other, disputed stories put their meeting years earlier and even vouch a marriage (September 1, 1870) and a child (Jean Hickok McCormick, born September 25, 1873, and allegedly given up for adoption). By the late 1870s Calamity Jane had captured the imagination of several magazine-feature writers who covered the colourful early days of Deadwood.

In 1891 she married Clinton (Charley) Burke, a hack driver, after living with him for seven years. Beginning in 1895 she toured with Wild West shows throughout the Midwest. In 1901 she appeared at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, but was fired for her erratic behaviour and alcoholism. She returned to Deadwood and poverty. She was buried there beside Hickok.

So with all this information, I came up with these sentences:

1. Deadwood wasn’t exactly how Calamity Jane had pictured it – full of backbreaking work and ignorant people – and all she wanted to do was return to her hotel room and wrap her hand around a bottle (her only lucky charm).

2. The lucky charm Cherri always wore (an heirloom St. Christopher medallion) rested between the bandages that were now the only remainder of what used to be her breasts and settled into the calamity that now invaded her emotions.

3. Oh my Gawd, Kayleigh whispered as she observed her ex-boyfriend, Robbie “Lucky Charm” Stephens, lean in to make out with his new girl friend, whose outfit could only be described as a calamity – acid-washed jeans, a holey tank top and a Michael Jackson style leather jacket (complete with metal studs).

I’m interested to see what you guys come up with. Comment me back and let me know. I promise not to use yours in the competition (unless it’s REALLY good.) Or you could go to:

yourstorycontest@fwmedia.com and enter it yourself!

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Retraction

This post is a retraction, of sorts. I looked over my last post after a reader’s comment caught my attention. My last post was made to be sarcastic and after reading it, I realize it was not even close. No, I don’t leave my kids in my car. It was a joke. The post has been deleted.

The last few weeks have been a utter blur. Chaotic, but a blur. I have not queried agents, or checked my email or even looked at my writing (any parts of it for the matter), and obviously have not blogged.

The chaos began when I was visiting my husband in Rifle and got sick. Now, when I was a teacher, I very rarely caught the sniffles or contracted the flu because when you’re in the school system (even for the few years that I did teach), you tend to build up your immune system to fight off the day-to-day nasties. But somehow, with my kids in school and me staying at home, I seem to always be “coming down with something.” Maybe it has to do with not being at the source of the illnesses and instead getting them second hand. Maybe somehow contracting them through someone else who got it from someone else makes it worse, like the virus has mutated and grown into a wild, contagious monster.

Well, my Alvin came home one day with a headache and fever. I dosed him up with some Motrin and all was better overnight. The next day, however, my throat felt weird. Usually if I catch something I’m lucky enough for it to stay in my nose – tissues and a decongestant take care of my problems most days. But the throat, on the other hand, is a completely different animal. Drops and medicine don’t do a thing. And it kept getting worse. One morning I woke up feeling hung over (I rarely drink) with heartburn (that I only get when I’m pregnant) and a feeling that a large piece of dinner the night before was stuck in my throat.

I knew then that I was in trouble. I had strep throat nine times in college. I pulled myself from the bed then, wobbled into the bathroom and confirmed the white puss pockets on my throat. I went to the doctor, told them what I had, got some penicillin and a few days later, I was COMPLETELY recovered. Thanks goodness. Thank you, Alexander Fleming and his crew for “accidently” inventing the mold. The story is short and kind of interesting, if you’re curious:

http://www.ideafinder.com/history/inventions/penicillin.htm

So, no, I didn’t get any writing done that week.

The week after that was packing/moving week. My hubby and I found a nice house in Rifle where we could, you know, actually live TOGETHER, like normal married couples with kids. The week after that was the get-settled-in week and even though there are still boxes to be unpacked and furniture to buy, I could not deny my hands their need to click on the computer keys.

Writing is a muscle that absolutely has to be worked, and overworked. Denying it for weeks at a time makes it weak and soft, like a body builder who one day just stops. The muscle turns to this loose, squishy thing that is worse than if it was never worked on in the first place. I don’t need my writing to get any more squishy than it already is; I have a hard enough time trying to get people to read it in the first place.

So my goal this week is to jump back into the number one thing that I love to do, even if it is only in fifteen-minute intervals between unpacking and switching over bills and forwarding mail and setting my kids set up at another school and finding the stores that take double coupons and breathing.

Because, we all find time to do the things that are important to us, even if other things suffer for it. Like, personal hygenie or dirty dishes. Which are probably things I should go take of right now…

Right after I go watch The Bachelor that I recorded last night. Because THAT is my first priority today.