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Flash: Coffee Urn

Coffee Pot by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Image courtesy of the Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec Foundation
Painting entitled: Coffee Pot
Shared under the Creative Commons attribution

Coffee. Warm, wonderful, life-giving coffee.

The silver urn bathed in the late morning sun, alone on the banquet table, steam curling from the lip. The steam barely visible to my unfocused eyes but glorious all the same.

Hot caffeine. The motion of my life’s blood. The function of my synapses.

Throbbing, my head ravaged me for last night. My tongue ached for the Columbia Black to spill over the cotton-parched muscle, burning away … burning away everything. If only there was a mug.

If only I could move my arms.

I twisted my shoulders to see how tight the bindings were.

My dry tongue pressed against whatever was stuck in my mouth preventing me from screaming, adhering to the terrycloth fiber. Blood and sweat-sock duked it out for control of my taste buds. I think the blood is mine; at least one tooth is loose. So much for the extensive orthodontic work my parents paid for during my teenage years.

Bile rose from the flavors but I manage to dry swallow it back down.

Did they, whoever they were, leave the urn as torture? For torture it was to have coffee so close and so far.

(words 196 – first published 3/27/2016)

Other Cool Blogs: SFWA January 8, 2016

**Bio: Iz SPEZIALLuv Mee!**

So you need a bio. Could be because you are appearing in a con, publishing a short story in anthology, or actually got your novel accepted somewhere. Maybe you are just setting up your Facebook page, a blog, or website. Could be you have a speaking engagement, displaying some art, or signing up for a dating service.

Anyway, you need to create a short biological sketch. One of the toughest things in the world. You can write 100,000 words of fiction, but writing 100 words of “I done good and is spezial” is tough.

Never fear, Luna Lindsey wrote a great blog on the topic, “Tackling the Dreaded Bio” for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America website. The website has several great blogs including focusing on the “Craft of Writing” and the “Business of Writing”.

Hop on over to http://www.sfwa.org/2016/01/35531/ to find out all about writing a bio.

Writing Exercise: Switching Out Words

Beer Stock Photo

Image courtesy of Idea go at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Use Better Words

WRITING EXERCISE: Write a generic scene – no more than 100 words. Then go through and change or add one or two words (no more than that) per sentence to make it better. Then try again, using the same generic start for a totally different genre or feel.

*****

After walking into the bar, a guy sits on a stool. He signals the bartender for a boilermaker. Beer and whiskey appear, and his money gets whisked away. The bartender returns to the girl he was flirting with. The guy knocks back the shot, then walks over to the couple holding his beer. (words 53)

*****

After sauntering into the bar, a guy hops on a stool. Smiling, he signals the bartender for a boilermaker. Beer and whiskey appear, and his meager cash gets whisked away. The cute bartender returns to the girl she was flirting with. The guy knocks back some courage, then walks over to the couple holding his beer.

*****

After walking into the darken bar, a guy mounts a stool. Furtively he signals the bartender for a boilermaker. Beer and whisky appear, and his money disappears. The bartender returns to the working girl he was flirting with. The guy knocks back the shot, then slips closer to the couple swirling his beer.

(first published 1/31/2015; republished new blog format 3/22/2016)

Flash: It’s Dirty

Goldfish crackers

Image acquired from the Internet Hive Mind, specifically Wikipedia

“When can I put ActionMan down, dad?” The four-year old held the toy over the conveyor belt.

Joe reached across the moving rubber. “Let me just put the bar between mom’s stuff and yours. That let’s the cashier lady know to ring up your ActionMan separate.”

“So I get to pay with it with my money!” His parents had decided he was old enough for his own allowance. Joe and Scott had spent most of the shopping trip picking out the perfect toy to spend his first week’s allowance while Cheryl and April, still relegated to sitting in the cart, did the family groceries. Joe was pretty sure Cheryl had the easier task. Once the bar was down, Scott dropped the toy. He gripped the side of the machine to stand on tippy toe and watch its slow movement down the belt.

After a while he got bored and started looking around at all the impulse items specifically placed at child level in the candy aisle.

“Keep an eye on him,” Cheryl instructed her husband. “He wanders.”

“My son, the explorer.”

“Your son, the destroyer.” She placed the last of the baby food on the belt, after moving the bar and toy back a bit. “Eyes on him.”

Chuckling, Joe watched as his son bent at his knees and carefully studied things on the bottom-most shelf in the squat position small children did so easily. “He isn’t that bad.”

“Karen,” Cheryl addressed the cashier, “what do you think?”

The black lady behind the counter smiled at her realtor while moving the merchandise over the scanner. “We do show a profit on your visits.”

“Well said.” The blond turned back to her husband. “Sweetie, every stocker in the store knows Scott’s name.”

Joe came over to kiss Cheryl on the cheek. “That is because he is an extrovert just like you.”

“Goldfish!” Scott explained.

Both parents turned around to see Scott waving a small carton of Goldfish in the air.

“Do you want that, buddy?” Joe asked, approaching the boy and gently taking the carton out of his hands before he crushed it.

The four-year old nodded vigorously. “Yes!”

“Inside voice.” Cheryl’s automatic response drifted from the front of the line as Scott’s expositions finally crossed the threshold of too loud.

“Yes.” He stage-whispered to his dad.

“Well, let’s look at the price.” Joe knelt down beside the child. “What do the numbers say?”

“One…zero…nine.”

“Okay, do you remember how much money ActionMan is going to cost?”

Scott’s young face scrunched up in thought. “No.”

“It’s okay, I do.” Joe recited the numbers. “That leaves just eighty-nine pennies leftover of your allowance.”

“Which is more than one-nine, right?” Scott looked up eagerly.

“Yes it is more than nineteen, but this is one hundred and nine. That zero is important.” Joe held the carton in front of him, lifting it up and down as though weighing it. “You got a choice buddy. You only have so much money. Do you want ActionMan or the Goldfish?”

“But I’m hungry!”

“And mommy just bought a whole bunch of food. When we get home we will unpack it and then I’m going to start cooking dinner.” Joe stood and picked up the toy from the belt and then knelt again, with the toy in one hand and the food in the other. “Which do you want? We can only get one.”

Scott gazed longingly at one and then the other. Sighing deeply, he pointed at the toy. “I want ActionMan.”

“Good choice buddy.” said Joe, giving a response he decided to give no matter what the choice was. At this point making a choice instead of throwing a tantrum to get both options was a great choice. But overall the engineer in Joe liked the fact his son went for the long choice instead of the immediate result. He passed the carton to his son. “Now put this back since we are not getting it.” He stood up as he watched the tiny learning machine put the food back on the bottom shelf.

Subdued Scott returned to his dad’s side, who gave him the toy. He stood on tiptoe and placed it back on the conveyor and watched until the bar hit the cashier area. His mom pulled out the little coin purse where she was storing his allowance.

“Ready for me to scan this, little man?” Karen asked.

Scott nodded solemnly.

“Listen for the beep.”

Once the scanner made its noise, Scott’s face lit up again. “Was that beep mine?”

“Yes, it was.” Cheryl handed Scott the two bills making up his allowance, while the cashier bagged the toy. “Now you need to pay for it.”

Smiling from ear to ear, he handed over the money.

“Eighty-nine cents is your change.” Karen leaned across the counter, placing the money in the two small outstretched hands.

While trying to get the coins into the money holder, the dime escaped. Scott looked at it a moment.

“Aren’t you going to pick it up?” Joe asked.

“It’s dirty!” Scott declared, before handing the coin purse to his mom and going to get his toy from the bagging area.

Cheryl opened her mouth, then closed it, looking at her husband in consternation.

Joe shrugged. “Which rule do you want?”

Seeing her son engrossed with the toy, Cheryl quickly bent over, picked up the coin, and dropped it into the purse.

“Hygiene wins.” Joe smiled wickedly before adding, “Good choice sweetie.”

“I’ll good choice you.” She whispered back in pretend anger.

“Promise?”

“Tonight, after dinner and laundry … if April doesn’t wake up.”

(words 934 – first published 3/20/2016)

Other Cool Blogs: Magical Words March 16, 2016

Plotting or Pantsing: Follow the Road or Be Free

Original Image from Unsplash, created by Redd Angelo
Words added by Erin Penn

So I am reading along in the The Weird Wild West anthology by eSpec Books, going through the “about the author” section when I ran across a book title that intrigued me: “The Six-Gun Tarot“. Saw the author was R.S. Belcher and went to read “Rattler”, the short story in the anthology. Not bad, not bad. From there the search went to Amazon to see if the blurb intrigued me as much as the title. It didn’t, but I fooled around a bit (because BOOKS!) and discovered the just released (March 2016) book “The Brotherhood of the Wheel”. Picked the sample up on my Kindle and two days of fighting myself later about dropping money on a new book when I have so many other books to read, write, and edit, I bought the book.

Templar meets Teamsters would be my tagline for the book.

And the next day I run across Mr. Belcher as a new blogger on Magical Words! His “The Great Pants-Plot Comprise” captures one of the many answers to whether plotting (figuring out everything in advance) or pantsing (writing with the flow) is better … and is perhaps the closest to the answer I would provide if anyone asked me how I approached the question.

Flash, which I do a lot of, is a pantsing project; write about 1,000 words quickly. But the novels take a bit more work to be coherent. By nature I am a plotter. Plan life, plan trips, etc. Lists, lists and more lists. Pieces of paper everywhere.

I like the blog because Mr. Belcher tells about two failed novels, one because he approached it from a plotter beginning and the other from a pantsing beginning. Then he found the mix for him. Read about it here: http://www.magicalwords.net/really-i-mean-it/the-great-pants-plot-compromise/.