Writing Prompt #246: Fall Fridays, Number 7

Image Credit: Unsplash

This is the final installment of Fall Fridays!

I think I’m going to do this every fall. I’ve really enjoyed it!

As the wonderful season of autumn / fall has started, I wanted to create an original writing prompt series to celebrate!

I invite everyone who sees this to participate, if you choose.

The idea is to look at the prompt, take at least five minutes on the Fridays during October 2019, and come up with a story/poem/scene, or whatever strikes your fancy with those words.

This has been extended from September! You can use the image at the top of this post – Just please make sure to credit it.

Ready?

Here we go!

  • October 4th: Corn Maze
  • October 11th: Hay Ride
  • October 18th: Football
  • October 25th: Halloween

The bonfire made shadows across everyone’s faces. Allison shivered. Then, David stretched, and put his arm around her. She felt warmer.

They couldn’t remember whose idea it had been, but having a bonfire on Halloween was becoming a tradition. Everyone had outgrown trick-or-treating age-wise. Lucy was the only one, for now, stuck taking her younger siblings around the neighborhood. She’d promised Allison a text once her sisters and brother were back home, inevitably fighting over the candy.

Allison sighed as she felt David’s lips graze her forehead. She jumped slightly when she heard the neighborhood owl hoot into the night. Past Halloween nights varied in temperature, but this year, it was crisp, cold, and a bit spooky.

Allison jumped again when her phone buzzed.

Hey, Ally, I’m running late. My sister tore her princess dress and had the meltdown of meltdowns. Who else is there?

Allison smiled. David shifted slightly to let her text back.

No worries here. It’s just David and me so far. But, I think Scott and Jeremy will be here soon. You know Scott likes you.

Lucy rolled her eyes, and chuckled, amidst the chaos of her five siblings running around the house. She couldn’t leave just yet – No other adults were home yet. She perched on the couch, hoping her parents or older sister would hurry up and relieve her.

Scott’s cute, sure, but I like Jeremy better. I’m glad he’ll be there. Anyone else?

Allison was distracted. David had lifted her chin and they’d been making out since Lucy’s first text. His hands were everywhere. For once, Allison didn’t resist.

“I like this, David,” she breathed.

“So do I. Although, I think you’re getting a little warm. How about taking off your sweatshirt? Do you need help?”

Allison giggled. “Sure, I could use some help.”

The minute David started lifting her high school orchestra sweatshirt up, he gasped.

“David? What’s wrong?”

“AAAAAHHHHH!”

“David?!”

Cackling, Joker-like laughter followed.

“Damn it, Scott, you scared the bejesus out of me!”

Allison pulled down her sweatshirt, hoping no one else had seen her lacy bra.

Scott was lifting a Michael Myers mask, still laughing.

“Hoo boy, I got you good!”

Jeremy was behind him, carrying a six-pack. David was a bit confused – None of them were 21. But, David also knew better than to ask a lot of questions.

“Damn, Scott. I screamed like a girl.”

Allison socked him in the arm. “Hey! Don’t say that.”

Scott laughed again. “He’s not wrong, Ally.”

She rolled her eyes. “Still, it’s not a nice thing to say. especially in the presence of women.”

Scott chortled. “Whatever, Miss Feminist.”

Allison knew Scott was trying to rattle her cage. But, she didn’t like it. He’d been teasing her since first grade.

David sat up, and Allison straightened.

Allison opened her mouth, about to tell them about Lucy and her texts.

In the direction of Lucy’s house, there was another scream.

After the scream, they only heard the crackle and pop of the raging bonfire.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #245: Fall Fridays, Number 6

Image Credit: Unsplash

As the wonderful season of autumn / fall has started, I wanted to create an original writing prompt series to celebrate!

I invite everyone who sees this to participate, if you choose.

The idea is to look at the prompt, take at least five minutes on the Fridays during October 2019, and come up with a story/poem/scene, or whatever strikes your fancy with those words.

This has been extended from September! You can use the image at the top of this post – Just please make sure to credit it.

Ready?

Here we go!

  • October 4th: Corn Maze
  • October 11th: Hay Ride
  • October 18th: Football
  • October 25th: Halloween

Matt called Andrea, all excited.

“Guess what? I scored season tickets!”

“What?! No way! Congratulations!”

“It only took 15 years, but I have them in my hot little hand. We’re going to Lambeau!”

Andrea was already looking up flights before the first sentence tumbled out of Matt’s mouth. He’d been a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan since childhood. Scoring season tickets was a dream come true. He’d been to Lambeau Field before – Roughly one home game every 3-4 years, and an away game near his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina every single year, without fail. His dad wasn’t a Green Bay fan, but he indulged his son.

Matt sighed on the phone, reminiscing.

“I just … I just wish Dad was here to see this. I know he wanted to be here for this.”

Andrea cradled the phone, pausing her frantic typing. Matt’s dad, in the throes of depression, died by suicide when Matt was 23. Scott had turned 50 the week before.

In a way, Matt was grateful he’d been at school when Dad died. But, he was still sad he’d died alone.

Mom had left, abandoning her 25-year marriage. The alcoholism, not the depression, had broken her spirit.

As Andrea listened, Matt recounted the good days, but clearly remembered the multiple beers at all the football games. It wasn’t necessarily unusual – Beer and football went hand-in-hand. But, Scott always pushed the limit.

When Matt was 15, just shy of getting his learner’s permit, he took the keys away for the first time. In the beginnings of a blizzard, Matt carefully drove the rental car from Lambeau to their hotel. Scott loudly protested, but Matt handled it with grace. Scott passed out in the Honda not 10 minutes later. The snow was getting heavier as he carefully navigated to the Holiday Inn after the Packers’ hard-fought loss to the Chiefs.

After calling security to get him out of the Honda, Scott woke up long enough to barf in the parking lot, all over the fresh snow. Matt winced. After Scott was cleaned up and snoring away, likely dreaming of his next drink, that was the first time Matt cried.

He remembered calling Mom, and her reaction was strangely calm.

“I’m sorry you had to deal with that, sweetheart. Especially alone. Are you okay?”

Matt swallowed. “I … Is it … Is it bad that I want to leave him here?”

Mom sighed. “Oh, honey, I’m sorry. It’s not bad. I’ve had that thought many times, unfortunately. I can send you money if you need it. But, with the blizzard …”

Matt leaned against the bank of pay phones. “I’m stuck, for now. I wish we’d picked a different game. I have school.”

Mom smiled. Her son, so studious and empathetic.

“I just want you … both of you … to be safe. Call me when he wakes up, okay?”

Matt sighed. “I wish you were here.”

“With you, yes. I’m so tired of it, all of it. But this is something my son, at 15, shouldn’t have to worry about.”

“But I am worried, Mom. He’s passed out in the double bed. I’m afraid he’s going to get sick again.”

“Go, check on him. I’ll keep watching the weather. Call me in a couple hours, okay? Don’t worry about waking me up. I don’t think I’ll be sleeping tonight.”

Their dog barked in the background, followed by sibling squabbling.

“I gotta go take care of your brother and sister. Please, call me later, okay? I love you, Matt. Thank you for being there.”

Matt sighed, crying again. “I love you, too, Mom. I’ll call around 10.”

Matt hung up, wanting to sprint out the lobby doors instead of going back up to the fourth floor. For the first time, he was truly afraid what he was going to find in Room 452.

“Matt? Matt? Are you still there?”

Andrea brought Matt back to reality. He wiped his cheeks.

“Yeah, sorry about that. Memories.”

“I know you miss your Dad. We all do.”

“Thanks, Andrea. It’s weird. Most of the time – 98 percent of the time – I’m happy. But, that other two percent comes in like a flood and takes over my brain.”

Andrea shifted the phone. “That’s why you’ve been in some sort of counseling or therapy since 2017. Don’t beat yourself up too badly, Matt. You’re a human being. You’re grieving the man you called your hero.”

Matt scoffed. “Some hero. He drank himself to death.”

“No, he didn’t. He was in a hole he couldn’t get out of. Depression is weird like that.”

Andrea struggled with the words. It was still painful, nearly 2 1/2 years later.

Matt sighed. “Hence why I haven’t touched alcohol. That made me really popular in college, by the way.”

Andrea chuckled. Matt was always able to use humor to shift conversations. It was one of many things she liked about him. As he talked, she felt that familiar longing. She’d wanted to be with him for years, but had suppressed her feelings. They’d been friends since sophomore year of college, about six months before Scott had descended into what would have been his last spiral.

Matt smiled. He was grateful for Andrea’s friendship. She’d been by his side in the good times, and especially the bad times. Many others, including his entire fraternity, had all but abandoned him.

Not Andrea. She’d stuck by him, even pushing him to finish his degree on time. She knew that was the one big thing Scott wanted. She was proud to have helped him so much.

Now she wanted to help him again. This was the first major good news in a long, long time.

“I found a flight, Matt. Lambeau, here we come!”

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #150: NaNoWriMo 2018 Recap

NaNoWriMo 2018

Image Credit: The Reedsy Blog

NaNoWriMo 2018 is in the books!

Here’s the link to my kick-off post:


Day 1

Today: 418
Total: 418

Not a bad start!

Day 2

Today: 199 + 880 = 1,079
Total: 1,497

Two writing sessions, on a Friday? Yes, please!

Day 3

Today: 741 + 1,364 = 2,105
Total: 3,572

Two more writing sessions today, both more successful than yesterday? I’ll take it!

Day 4

Today: 630
Total: 4,232

Not bad for a busy Sunday.

Day 5

Today: 934 + 780 = 1,714
Total: 5,946

Two productive writing sessions, and crushed the daily word count again!

Day 6

Today: 930 + 278 = 1,208
Total: 7,154

Continued productivity!

Day 7

Today: 602
Total: 7,756

Decent writing today, which I made time for the morning. I’m so glad I did – I got home around midnight after an AMAZING concert!

Day 8

Today: 128 + 163 + 967 = 1,258
Total: 9,014

A little bit of a midnight writing session before my laptop battery died. A few more minutes in the morning after a few hours of sleep. A much longer writing session after work. It feels good!

Day 9

Today: 731
Total: 9,745

I wasn’t able to do a writing session this morning, but I took some time this evening to get some more on the page.

Day 10

Today: 493
Total: 10,238

I plugged away after breakfast.

Day 11

Today: 141 + 882 = 1,023
Total: 11,261

I wrote a bit in the afternoon before headed to church for an afternoon workshop. After finishing dinner and Pitch Perfect 3, I got on a roll! I felt a bit of a slump earlier, but I got my mojo back!

Day 12

Today: 0
Total: 11,261

No writing for me today. Between getting back to the gym for the first time in two months, a full day of work, and my monthly P.E.O. meeting, I barely had time to breathe today.

Day 13

Today: 523
Total: 11,784

I took the opportunity to write in between dinner with Al and a church training session, so I was pleased.

Day 14

Today: 0
Total: 11,784

Today was our third wedding anniversary, so no writing!

Day 15

Today: 0
Total: 11,784

Nothing today.

Day 16

Today: 0
Total: 11,784

Nothing today.

Day 17

Today: 0
Total: 11,784

Nothing today.

Day 18

Today: 0
Total: 11,784

Nothing today.

Day 19

Today: 0
Total: 11,784

Nothing today.

Day 20

Today: 0
Total: 11,784

Nothing today.

Day 21

Today: 1,245
Total: 13,029

My writing slump is finally broken! I was able to come home early from work due to the Thanksgiving holiday. After I finished preparing the traditional chocolate mousse, I was able to knock out a solid writing session this afternoon. Hooray!

Day 22

Today: 0
Total: 13,029

Nothing today.

Day 23

Today: 0
Total: 13,029

Nothing today.

Day 24

Today: 0
Total: 13,029

Nothing today.

Day 25

Today: 0
Total: 13,029

Nothing today.

Day 26

Today: 1,692
Total: 14,721

I felt really good today! I feel like this final push will be awesome!

Day 27

Today: 0
Total: 14,721

Nothing today.

Day 28

Today: 0
Total: 14,721

Nothing today.

Day 29

Today: 0
Total: 14,721

Nothing today.

Day 30

Today: 1,357 + 403 = 1,760
Total: 16,481

I’m really happy, overall. I made a really good effort! Plus, I have 16,000 more words than I started with.


Final Thoughts

It’s a decent effort for a crazy, busy month! I’m thrilled to have finally gotten this story idea out of my head, and the beginnings of a good first draft!

I can’t wait to participate in the next Camp NaNoWriMo in 2019!


Have you done NaNoWriMo in November before?

Have you done Camp NaNoWriMo before?

Let me know what you think!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #117: “Writing Table, Leeds, England” (Reblogged)

As I think about my experiences with my first Camp NaNoWriMo so far, I found this photo from England very fitting for today. I see photos of desks and libraries often, and I think this setup is perfect. It’s romantic, in a way.

It’s a little different, knowing that a desk like this would, in 2018, most likely hold some sort of computer rather than a journal, parchment, or stationery.

But, I like to wax nostalgic, thinking back to the days of my childhood when we didn’t have the family computer. I filled up notebook after notebook with random thoughts, song lyrics, the beginnings of stories, and more. I remember throwing out a bunch of them when I was a teenager, feeling ashamed at the time that I was holding onto the “childish” journals. I so wish I had kept them! But, I have memories. I made up stories about my Barbies, my stuffed animals, and eventually, Stephanie, my one American Girl doll I loved and treasured for many years. It was so innocent.

It fills me with happy memories, knowing that those journals and notebooks led me to writing longer stories. I have those stories in a blue binder covered with stickers – I did keep that. It makes me think how far I’ve come in my writing pursuits and endeavors. It makes me proud.

If I were sitting at this desk today, I wouldn’t have my laptop. I would have a notebook, or loose-leaf paper, with several pens, daydreaming and writing the day away. It makes me feel peaceful and pleased.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Just Wunderlust

Writing Table, Leeds, England

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Commentary #56: “Changing Telling into Showing”

ML Keller

Image Credit: M.L. Keller

As an aspiring novelist, I subscribe to several WordPress blogs that are dedicated to advice about writing.

Back in July, one blogger re-blogged a post from Michelle Keller, also known as ML Keller – The Manuscript Shredder!

Here’s the link to the original post:


This is something that I have ALWAYS struggled with in my writing. In college, I was told this several times, both in writing and to my face. It stung, but, it’s true.

I majored in Communication Studies, with a Mass Media concentration. But, I also minored in Rhetoric & Professional Writing, through the English department. I always wanted to take creative writing classes, and at Longwood, I got that chance!

But, combining that major and minor affected my writing in an interesting way. Through being a writer, and eventually an editor, for The Rotunda student newspaper, I learned quickly how to summarize my points and quotes for an article, or a column, or a feature. For the newspaper, I knew I couldn’t write a novel.

However, summarizing for countless articles and columns bled into my creative writing. One of my professors, Dr. Steven Faulkner, told me in a one-on-one meeting that he could tell immediately that I was a journalism student. He looked me in the eyes, and said, “You’ve mastered the art of summary.” I still remember him saying that – It’s been eight years now. I was taking his Advanced Creative Non-Fiction class at the time, and I was frustrated that I wasn’t improving my overall grade. I ended up with a good grade, but that conversation has always stuck with me.


In her post, Keller says that changing telling into showing is “hated.” Why?

  • Telling stops your story cold.
  • Telling creates distance from your characters.
  • Telling is boring to read.

Ir’s harsh advice, but I know that I needed to read it.

One of the biggest pieces that stuck out to me was:

“Imagine meeting someone for the first time over coffee and the entire conversation is her talking about people you have never met and her deepest darkest life experiences? You’d probably think she needs some serious counseling, but so many of the manuscripts I see begin this way.”

I’ve definitely filed that away for future reference.

In order to change telling into showing, Keller gives several pieces of good advice.

  • Have your characters argue.
  • Have your characters interact with the setting.
  • Use transitions.

According to Keller, the easiest way to change telling into showing is something that I’ve appreciated as a reader for a long time:

Treat your novel like a movie. If the reader can’t see it on the screen, (in novels the other senses count too) then you are telling.

I first noticed this several years ago, when, oddly enough, I started reading and re-reading the Nicholas Sparks novels. There were times (a lot of them with him in particular) where I would put the book down for a minute, and I felt like I could see the action on the page I was just reading play out in front of me, just like a movie.

Once I realized this, I started looking for it in other books, and with other authors. It became a litmus test for me, in a way. The more scenes I could see or visualize, the more I liked the book.

I definitely want to be able to do this in my own novels. I want my readers to use all of their senses when reading my books.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #54: “What To Pay For When Publishing”

Things I Learned About Self-Publishing

Image Credit: AbridgeClub.com

I was inspired to write this post from James Harrington’s Blog of Geek and Writing.

Here’s the link to his original post:


As someone who has several novels / stories in the works (A never-ending cycle, it seems), I’ve gotten more and more curious about self-publishing in the last year or so. I have nothing ready to self-publish as of yet, but I like to plan ahead!

Jim offers this advice, as a self-published author on Amazon. You should be prepared to pay for the following:

  1. ISBN Numbers
  2. Copyright registration
  3. Cover
  4. Editing and Reviewing
  5. Advertising

He brings up some excellent points. Before reading his post, I knew that having someone else design the cover, as well as hiring someone else to edit and review your work, would definitely be worth the money. However, I didn’t think about ISBN numbers, copyright registration, and advertising.

Jim says that if you do decide to self-publish, you should be prepared to spend at least $400 at an absolute bare minimum. However, it’s also wise to spend a little more if you want your work to reach more people! (Don’t we all?)


Jim’s post made me research a little bit deeper. Keep in mind – Everyone has their own opinion, and the Internet is chock-full of advice about self-publishing.

There are so many avenues available now – It made my head spin! There’s CreateSpace and IngramSpark, and then a massive number of independent publishers. A Google search for “self-publishing” is almost overwhelming and panic-inducing.

Here’s a few links:

A lot of these articles tend to agree on several items:

  1. Purchase your own ISBN (International Standard Book Number).
  2. Hiring “book doctors” and getting it copy edited by a professional.
  3. Don’t just choose one medium – Consider publishing in print and e-book formats, and even audio books.
  4. Marketing is key.
  5. A good cover design is immensely helpful.
  6. Do your pricing research, and be mindful of the different percentages of the price that each company takes (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Audible, etc.) when a copy of your book is sold.

The bottom line – The publishing and self-publishing worlds seem to be constantly evolving. It’s hard to keep up with!

But, I’m glad that I have bloggers like James, among others, who are willing to write posts, offer advice, and answer questions!


Have you self-published anything? If so, what was your experience like? Can you offer any advice?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Wednesdays #25

Image Credit: inspiremykids.com

Image Credit: inspiremykids.com


Welcome back! Happy Wednesday!

Today is a bittersweet day. This Writing Wednesdays post marks the last section of the NaNoWriMo novels.

However, this does not mean the end of the Writing Wednesdays posts!

As I start to revise the first draft of my 2012 novel (finally, I know), with the working title of “Experiences at Camp,” I will be sharing the new material, several pages at a time, just like I have here for the last 25 posts.

I’m excited, albeit a little nervous. These three novels are the first ones that I am fully committed to editing and finishing (meaning that I want all three to have an ending, and that ending to land around 50,000 words, which is the ultimate NaNoWriMo goal).

I’m looking forward to this journey!


And now, the conclusion (for now) to “Discussion of Differences.”


That first Skype session charged the six of them. There was pure motivation to get this adventure planned and set in motion. Everyone was electrified, and no one wanted to lose that steam anytime soon.

In between wedding planning, Anabelle’s graduate school work, and looking for a house, Bill and Anabelle set to work on their adventure assignments – Food and groceries, and the general itinerary. Unknowingly, Bethany had essentially married their loves together – Food and travel. Almost every night after that first Skype session, Bill and Anabelle themselves were on Skype, pointing to a huge map of Europe and using all of the Internet resources to put pins and stars on the map – Multi-colored pushpins for traveling, and stars indicating the best food regions, wineries, and more.

Lizzy made it through her finals by the skin of her teeth. She aced all but one of her exams, and her final grades were decent.

Hunter saw the relief in Lizzy as he helped her move out of her LT apartment for the last time. She was finally finished with school – Possibly for forever. She hadn’t breathed a word of graduate school or any further kind of study. Her field was tricky – Double major in microbiology and chemistry – but she was determined to find some sort of job. She knew that it was likely going to be minimum wage and retail, in the beginning anyway. Lizzy did know one thing – She wanted to get that job and save up enough money so that she was out of her mom’s house in the least amount of time.

She was seriously considering moving closer to Hunter – There were more opportunities there, both for entry-level jobs and possible work in her field. There were three major universities within 100 miles of Hunter’s town. She started to entertain the possibility of starting graduate school at one of them and being either a grad assistant or a research assistant while studying – It looked like a win-win. But, for this moment, she wanted to be making money. She wanted to save every penny she could and be back on her own as soon as humanly possible.

In the midst of everything going on with Bill and Anabelle and Lizzy and Hunter, Will was planning his proposal to Bethany. He’d had this tradition of giving her jewelry every Christmas since they’d started dating, and he wanted to give her the ring around that time as well.

He’d already sat down with Bethany’s parents and asked for permission – They said yes.

Mission number one, accomplished.

Now he needed to plan what he considered to be the perfect proposal. They had started talking about engagement and marriage several years prior – Will had basically promised Bethany that his proposal to her would be as romantic and sweet as possible – and he wanted to deliver on that. The problem was, how romantic and sweet could it be around Christmastime? Christmas was such a common time for marriage proposals – Will wanted to do it right, for Bethany.

It got to the point one night where Will was truly stuck. He had tried to think of everything creative, witty, funny, heart-melting, and all of that had basically gotten him nowhere.

He essentially put his head on his computer desk and sighed. (Don’t worry – Bethany was actually with Anabelle, working on her wedding).

The little voice in Will’s head started cheerleading, “Come on, think! You can do this. You love Bethany so much. What would she be blown away by?”

Will started pacing the wood floor of his bedroom, but his own steps were driving him crazy.

Finally, he flopped on his bed on his stomach. Groaning, he rubbed his temples and closed his eyes. He lay there for a few minutes.

He then remembered that his phone had buzzed with a text from someone an hour ago.

Hey, buddy. How’s life treating you in Virginia?

Will smiled. It was his best buddy, C.J. They’d been friends since second grade. C.J. had gone into the military several years earlier and had been shipped off to a base in Arizona. Will had seen C.J. twice in the last four years, so hearing from him was always a treat.

Will typed slowly, Hey, bud. Life’s good. I’m stuck though. I’m trying to figure out how to propose to Bethany.

C.J. laughed. He had married his wife, Carrie, almost two years earlier.

Excited for you, man! That’s great. Bethany’s a great girl, and I’ve seen how happy she makes you. All I can say is – Make this moment something you’ll both remember forever.

Will smiled. All the worry started to clear away. He began to think about their very first date, nearly four and a half years earlier, how Bethany brought that up in conversation a lot, and how so many people thought it was literally perfect.

Thanks, buddy. I feel better already. Miss you. Hope to see you soon!

C.J. chuckled and shook his head.

No problem. Hey, I’m getting out of the force soon. Moving to Wyoming in January or February – You know how stupid the force can be about letting people leave. Once we’re settled, you two should come out and visit! Can’t wait to hear when the engagement’s official.

Will smiled and cleared his messages screen. He saw Bethany’s smiling face back at him. He knew now what to do.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂