A Writing Prompt

This is Author Amanda McCormick‘s weekly writing prompt:

Using a photo from Garett Photography, write whatever inspires you.

I’m going to use these two, which are really lovely.

(This is a scene which may go into my new book)

The sun had almost set on the longest day of the year. The garden was bursting with blooms, having soaked in the sun. Ember gathered chamomile, yarrow, thyme and daisies.  She already had lilies, and had made flower crowns for her and her sisters, their aunt, and niece. She wasn’t sure if they would wear them, but she could not resist. It was a fond memory of her mother and her sisters, celebrating the solstice.  With their mother gone, and their training becoming more intense, she just wanted to liven things up for an evening.

She had already picked vegetables and apples.  She had also bought some fruit from the market. Oak was stacked by the firepit with pine needles, ready to burn, and she had her emerald earrings and necklace on. Gathering the rest of what she wanted, she took the bunches to the chairs, winding herbs together, laying a few bunches in the bottom of the pit.  As she finished,  she saw her sisters and niece come out of the kitchen.

“Hey Em. Anything we can do?”

“Bring out the trays in the kitchen and set the table over there.  There should be candles as well.”

Blaze and Ash disappeared through the door. Ella continued walking up to the firepit and looking in. “Why are there herbs and stuff in the bottom?”

“Mostly just because it smells wonderful when it burns. Our mom used to say that these plants held a special significance on the summer solstice however, so she always grew them. It’s tradition to burn them.”

Ella nodded, and Em smiled, as it was if she was carefully committing these thoughts to memory.  The sun had finally set, and the moon slowly began to become visible. Blaze and Ash had set the trays on the table, with Aunt Ember walking behind with the candles, arranging them just so. She waved a hand over them, and they lit.

“Did you make these Ember?” Amber asked.

“Yes. I sell quite a few in the store and online. These particular ones smell of Lavender”

“Wonderful.”

“Can we eat now? I’m famished?” Blaze said as she picked up a slice of watermelon.

“Me too!” piped up Ella.

Laughing Ember told them to eat up.  Getting a plate, she piled it full of salad, with a bowl of fruit.  They sat around the fire and as the night drew over them, and the stars began to appear, they lit the fire.

Ember walked around setting the crowns on each person’s head.  Blaze jumped when hers landed, and then giggled as she saw Ember’s.  “I had forgotten this. I haven’t done this in years.”

“Mom and I did it every year.  Ella, do you like yours?”

“I LOVE IT!” Ember had also made her a wand, using a long stick, ribbons and flowers.  She skipped around the garden, waving it as flowers trailed behind her.

Amber looked at each of them.  “I’m glad to see Sera kept doing this. Your mother did always love the holidays.”

“She respected them too. I want to honor that respect and love. We’ve all been working hard, I thought tonight would be a good night off. What about some stories about you two as children?”

“That was quite a while ago.”

“I’d enjoy a few.  Plus Ella did not know mom well. It would be nice” Ash said.

Ember noticed Amber give her a look, but was unsure what it meant. “Okay.”

Amber started off with a story about Sera lighting the teacher’s trash can on fire when she was mad in school, and from there she made their own antics in school sound like nothing.  Ash seemed to regret asking for the stories as Ella looked fascinated at the ideas.  The moon was now high above them, shining through the dream catchers hung in the garden. Lights flicked across the pavers, and sparkled like the stars above them.

Throwing herbs on the fire with the pine needles, Ember looked around her.  She missed her mother, but she was glad for the night.  Her sisters were together again, and celebrating this day of life and light.

The End

Hope you enjoyed! Join in the prompt, and link back to Amanda! Also, check out Garett’s photography! It is beautiful.

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Writing Prompt Wednesday

So, I am going to try to start doing a Writing Prompt post every Wednesday. Wish me luck.

This week’s prompt:

We all have trouble writing villains.  The one thing I have heard authors say the most often, and readers, about their favorite villains, or how they write them is that they must understand their villains motives – and that the villain cannot be purely evil.  They have shades of grey – sometimes they think what they are doing is the right thing. Or they think that it is an ends to a greater means, etc. etc.

Think of someone whom you dislike. And write a story from what you think is their point of view. Shoot for 500 words and see where you wind up! Something to write about the villain doing may be someone completely opposite decision wise from what you would do.

Enjoy! Let me know what you think.

Random Writing Prompt

Write about your early memories of faith, religion, or spirituality; yours or someone else’s.

His hand slammed down on the bible, the echoing thumb bouncing around my brain.  The migraine I had had since this morning suddenly flared to the point where I felt that two hammers were slamming into the sides of my skull.  I imagined two little men whose job it was to control my migraine symptoms, and pictured them doing this. It helped ease the pain a little.

I couldn’t focus on the preacher.  I tried to pretend I cared. But on a day like today, I really wish my father had let me stay home. He felt it was more important that I go however, so here I sat, listening to the preacher yell, as each word bombarded my poor aching head.  Laying down on a bench (over half were empty) was not an option, though I had tried.

Finally, the preacher slowed, and asked for a song. Everyone got up to shake hands, and sneaked past my father and ran to the bathroom.  I splashed cold water on my face in the dark and breathed.  In and out. In and out.

I so badly wanted to stay in here, but as any good Baptist knows, the handshake is the “run to the bathroom” moment everyone waits for. So I came out, and sure enough there were two women waiting. Instead of going back in to stand through testimonies and another song or two, I went outside. Dad may be mad at me, but I couldn’t handle anymore.

The air was cool, and felt wonderful on my damp skin.  Leaves fell gently to the earth, returning to what they came from. The wind was a whisper, barely moving the leaves around.  What a beautiful day to experience.  I sat down on the step and tried to ignore the pain in my head. You get used to certain parts of having constant migraines. You begin to function through them, as long as you can avoid certain things (like screaming preachers).

It occurred to me that perhaps I was not as religious as I used to be. It felt like an odd thought.  I always remembered the church, Mt. Zion. My grandmother sometimes taking me, or going with my father.  I was “saved” and at one time I believed that meant I was going to Heaven.  Ninth grade shouldn’t be the time for me to realize perhaps I was no longer religious, or at least not as much as I used to be.

Did I still believe in God?  I wasn’t sure.  I believed in something, I suppose. I remember the time after reading several books with “gods,” and having said “gods help” and being yelled at.

Looking at nature, though, I knew that this was more spiritual to me than the church was.  Thinking about my best friend, who was gay, I knew I couldn’t believe everything the preacher yelled at me, or what people told me that the bible “said.” I refused to believe that a person’s biological makeup could instantly send them to hell. What if they were “saved?” What then? The church didn’t do well with contradicting facts.

The church inside became louder, and I knew it was over. Dad was probably wondering where I was.  I got off the porch steps to avoid the rush outside, and walked over to the tree line.  The church was set in a beautiful location, but so few people took the time to notice.  It’s funny how most people arrive at the last minute, but are the first to jet out the door to their cars – unless there is food.

I heard my dad hollering my name and turned as he saw me. He didn’t look too happy, but I didn’t care. My head had eased a little, and part of me knew inside that I was changing, growing, becoming my own person.  And that person may not be what my father envisioned.

My Writing Prompt Results

castle-ruins

I had always been drawn to ruins.  They seemed to speak to me, in the beginning.  As I researched, and visited more and more of them, I realized that perhaps I had not been wrong.  I began to see things, always out of the corner of my eye. I pondered if I was going crazy, but as they began to come clearer, I realized I was seeing spirits.

I was seeing the dead.

Though I should have been terrified, I was excited.  Spirits from the past could answer untold questions. They could help me find new ruins, old artifacts long lost. Numerous questions could be answered if I could speak to the right spirits.  Then I began to wonder what exactly caused a spirit to stay.

They would not talk to me.  I could not get their attention.  The harder I tried however, the more I began to feel them.  I could sometimes catch glimpses of their thoughts.

And so here I sat. In the middle of this ruin, in the sprinkling rain. The grass was glistening with drops of it.  The castle, or well, what was left of it, shone in the light.  It was beautiful. Spirits roamed the castle. There were five or six in this location. It surprised me because it was so little, and that was a high number by what I could tell by even a large ruin.

Ooh, if only I could figure out how to speak with them!

(have to leave. Try to update this tonight)

A Writing Prompt

castle-ruins

There are many pieces to building a good story.  The setting is one of those.  If a reader cannot imagine the world you are creating, then they will feel disconnected from the story. If they cannot believe what you are describing, then something is wrong.

Tolkien was a master of settings. Now, many people believe he was too detailed.  I’m not normal, and I loved every description he gave because they were beautiful.  Because of his level of details, they were able to go with their imagination, and truly create Middle-earth in the movies.

Some people argue that it can be better to leave it up to the reader’s imagination and just give the bare minimum required.  It’s all up to the author.

On that note – look at the above picture.  What does it invoke in you? What story does that castle have to tell?

Please share snippets or link me back to your post on it! I love to read what other’s write. Mine will be coming at lunch!

Writing Prompt: Buried Alive

prompt

I screamed until I was hoarse. My fingernails were torn and bloody from where I had tried to scratch the top of the coffin to pieces.  At this point I was trying to calm myself down.  I no longer could hear hammering, or dirt pounding the coffin. That meant either I was too buried to hear anything else, or they had quit.

Slow your breather. Slow. Slow.  I tried meditating.  The faster I breathed, and the more panicked I was, the more air I used.  How many hours could you last in a coffin? I wasn’t sure I wanted to know.  Did I want to know how many hours I had till Death came for me?

I tried to take my mind off the darkness. I closed my eyes. Pointless, but it made me feel better.  Why was I here? Who would bury me alive? What had I done? I wish I knew. At least if I knew why I was dying, that would be better. Maybe it was some crazy experiment, and I would be brought back up before the point of no return.  Could that be it?

I didn’t know.

How much time had passed? Not much. What was left?

My cat. Who would take care of my cat? How sad was it that that was what I worried about? I really had been a shut in. So who the hell could I have pissed off enough to be buried alive?

Horror Writing Prompt – Graveyards

So Amanda wants us to write about graveyards. I’m not feeling any of the sentence prompts I have, so I’m going to do the graveyard thing.  Cue some spooky music

~~~~~

Fog drifted in between the headstones, creating that creepy feeling I was so eager to find.  The night was alive with noises, animals chirping, cheeping, and creeping about.  People always say the night is silent, but that just shows they are not listening.

It was the perfect night for my ghost tour.  It seems an odd business to have, and whenever I introduce myself, people start to shy away from me. Most do not like the idea of surrounding themselves with the occult, the suspicious, and the supernatural. I love it.  I grew up reading fiction about witches and wizards, about the Salem witch trials, or mysteries and whodunits.  As my Hogwarts letter never arrived, I decided to find a path I could take.  I lucked into this.

The people were starting to arrive. It’s always more perfect when they get there a few minutes early. It gives them time to spook themselves out. Makes my job easier.  I held a lantern, and the fog made its glow eerie and in turn made my own white dress glow.  I liked to look the part.  Wearing jeans and boots just did not live up to my business.  I had a vintage looking knee length dress on,  with tiny battery lights in the hems, and the white lace up boots.  A cameo graced my neck, and my hair was done up all fancy like.  I couldn’t wear the powder anymore – it was too hot, and my skin reacted funny to being coated in that much makeup.  Still, I think I played the part well.  I even had a half cape on that had a hood I could pull up at just the right moment.

“When does this begin, ma’am?”  An older gentleman asked me.  There should be twenty people in this group.  I counted 15 so far.

“We have another five minutes till start time, my good sir. Let us wait for the others to arrive.” As I spoke another car arrived, full of teenagers. Ah, perfect. They spooked easily.

As everyone handed in the tickets, which I slipped into my purse, I began my introduction.

“Welcome lords and ladies to the Shadow Falls Cemetery.  The graves here date back to the 1600s, and were a popular burial ground for the infamous.  Please, notice the glow sticks I am now handing out. It may seem ridiculous but if you get lost, please use them.  Also, be mindful of the graves. The fog will hide more than a few, and some are low to the ground and perfect for a misaimed kick. Keep close, for one never knows what is wandering in the dark.”

Ah, yes. The teenagers were nervous. On to the show.

“This cemetery is home to many legends.  As you can see, the tombstones are old, worn, and many do not have names. However, the legend I shall tell you tonight does not require names, for there were none.

In 1750, the graveyard keeper was walking the grounds when he discovered a grave he had not seen before. The concrete marker did not bear a name, only a date. A date from two weeks ago.  He knew there had been no burials the day before, and that was when he called in the constable.  Indeed, they could find no records for this grave, and so they began checking around town. That day they did not find anything.

The next day, when the graveyard keeper and the constable went to hunt for clues they found a second grave. This one had a date from yesterday. Again, they could find nothing. They finally decided they must dig up the graves.  It was a process that took two days, and when they finally finished, they discovered the bodies of two girls.  They were not from their own town. A week went by before they discovered the girls had gone missing from two towns over. As the graveyard keeper kept walking, he found more such graves. A total of 10 in all. The dates had a wider range, going back as far as four or five months.  There was a serial killer in their midst.

The town became nervous. They were scared, because they did not know if someone among them was a killer, or if the killer lived in another town. There were few clues to go on.”

I paused. We had been walking among graves. I had come to the tomb I wanted. “This tomb, was one of the few unmarked that still remained. Her body was never claimed.  It was a younger girl, seventeen or so, with brown hair.  They say her soul still walks these woods.”

At that moment, one of my actresses walks around off in the distance. I could tell the moment that they all notice her. Its a funny play of lights and makeup that give such a creepy ghost effect. The teen teenagers were loving it. The older folks were enjoying it as well.

I walked around going over a few more stories. I had more actors play different parts.  When I got to our final story, a modern day zombie one, that was when I noticed the man off in the distance. He was not cued to be one of mine. I was not sure how long he had been there. He followed us to the beginning and many of my guests thanked me and asked if I did a special for Halloween. I gave them my card.

The man did not leave. He simply waited for everyone else to leave. If I had been smart I would have walked to my car. However, my actors and actresses usually took a few minutes to make it back up front, and I would not leave them. I decided to stand my ground.

“My good sir, is there something I can help you with?”

“Aye. Where did you hear that first story?”

“I did research in the library and the old newspapers. There were articles there.”

(Have to go back to work. May continue this later.)

Horror Story Prompt #3

The picture I used before with the prompts refuses to load on my computer – but its still on Amanda’s post… So I’m looking there. Going with number 8, and it will start out my story. So here it goes!

I awoke to the sound of the baby monitor crackling with a voice comforting my firstborn child. As I adjusted to a new position, my arm brushed against my wife, sleeping next to me. The horror of the realization it was not her voice froze me to the spot. Maybe I had just imagined it. I was half asleep. Or maybe it was feedback. That happens.  It does. I hear about it all the time.

I debated waking my wife. She wasn’t getting much sleep in between feeding our daughter. I looked at her peaceful face and decided to just go check myself.  I wasn’t sure what I expected. Nothing.  So why wake her up?

I got out of bed, and grabbed the rail sitting beside the door. I crept across the hall, and eased the door open. No one standing there. I did the whole make sure the room is clear thing, checked the closet and behind the doors. Nothing.  I turned, and saw my daughter sleeping the night away.  No one there. Nothing talking or singing to her.  I sighed.  I was just crazy.

I stood there and stared at her for almost an hour.  When she started to cry, and my wife walked in to feed her, she had a questioning look on her face. “You weren’t in the bed. How long have you been in here.”

“I heard something on the baby monitor.  Wanted to check. I didn’t realize how long I had been in here.”

“Well, there wasn’t anything, so go back to bed.”

“Okay… okay..”

“I shambled off as my wife snuggled our daughter close in the rocker.  I passed out on hitting the bed, and starting having restless dreams. I’m not sure how long I had been asleep when I woke. Something was wrong. And that’s when I realized my wife wasn’t there.  And the baby monitor was silent. I ran, and the room was empty. Neither was there. No sign of anything out of place.  I checked the whole house. I tried to call the 911 number but my phone wouldn’t work. I started running. I yelled.

Nothing was there.  The place was empty.  That’s when I heard the baby monitor crackling over and over again. I grabbed it and all I heard was “Welcome to hell…”

The Horror Writing Challenge

So, I’ve been trying to write more. I’m working more on my pirate story. I plan on starting to outline two different plots for my Nanowrimo. To finish my current novel or start a new one?

However, my sister-in-law has challenged me to write some horror and work on my villain. Ah well. Here it goes. Using the featured image, I’m going to pick a number… 12.

“I can’t sleep.” she whispered, crawling into bed with me. I woke up clutching the dress she was buried in. I froze, and held my breath.  The dress… I recognized that dress.  I slowly moved my hand, until I felt the body next to me.  The skin felt like sandpaper, and the I could not tell if the body was ice, or if that was just me. I felt like ice.

The lamp was still on in the corner, so I could see. Barely.  I started to ease back away from her.  There was no way. No way. I pinched my arm. Nothing. Shit.

I was off the bed and in the corner in a flash.  I tried to keep my eyes on her.  She wasn’t moving. Would she move? How did she get here? I just wanted to curl into a ball and ignore all the questions floating through my mind. The door! Where was the door?

I took my eyes off of her. And that was when she moved.  My gaze came back to her, and instead of facing the other way, her eyes were looking directly at me.  Unlike the rest of her, her eyes were the same. Pure. Blue. Whole.  The dress seemed to be tearing, her skin wasting away.  She raised her hand and pointed at me.

“This is your fault.”

If I thought I was scared before that was nothing compared to this.

“Come on guys. Come out. I know someone is having a majorly good prank on me here.”

Nothing. Shit. Nothing.

She was now sitting up.  “I know it was your fault.”

“How are you talking? Your dead. I saw you buried. Your rotting. You cannot talk. Frick, you shouldn’t move either.”

She walked towards me. I had no where to go. I could go around. Her movements were not the shambles of a movie. Oh I wish they had been. But how graceful was she? Crap crap crap crap crap

“Who says I am dead?”

She stopped at that. Maybe she was confused. Isn’t that a thing? Confusion? I looked toward the door. Why didn’t I run to the door in the first place?

“I… do. Your dead.  You died. Bam. You were hit by a car.  Was in a coma for three days.  But your dead. Your funeral was months ago.”

“Then why am I here? It is your fault.”

“it was not my fault”

“Was it not?”

“NO DAMMIT”

I shook my head. It was not my fault. Not my fault. I did not cause this. I did not do this. She walked with out looking. I didn’t have time to grab her. Not my fault.

I realized I had sat down. That wasn’t going to get me to the door. She had started walking again.  “Your fault”

“Not my fault, not my fault” I started to make a running leap for it.

And in that instant, I was falling.

Falling.

Falling.

Writing Prompt

I almost forgot to write! Not cool, then again, I had a migraine today and I can barely breathe. Also not cool.  So, I’ll cut my some slack since I really want to sleep but am going to write this first. Nanowrimo prep!

Prompt: A seafaring fantasy where your protagonist is not a pirate. Bonus points if s/he’s not in the navy, either.

“Land, ho!”

I hear them yelling above me, as footsteps cross the deck and ropes fall.  It’s a unique pattern I’ve grown to hearing these last few years.  I’ve become used to the noise, the creaking of the timber, and the salt in the air.  Lucky for me, the crew has finally become used to me as well.

Land. I rush up above deck with my sketch book, and find a nice area to prop myself.  I begin drawing the island, for that is what it is, as we come upon it. There is a small pier, and I wonder where we have landed.  The crew is excited, as a pier means people.  And leave.  At least for a few days.

“BRIANNA!”

Uh oh.  I turn toward the bellow, looking for his face.  I see his hat first.  You would think my father wouldn’t go for such stereotypes but he claimed it was no fun to a be a pirate if you couldn’t wear the hat.  It is at that moment that he catches sight of me. “Hi father!” I wave merrily, and begin climbing down.

“Look! Land.  Don’t you want to go with the landing party and explore?”

“No. You know I very well do not.”

“You do not even know where we are.”

“I don’t suppose that matters, now does it? I’m not leaving the ship.”

“Brianna…”  I catch the slight whine to his voice and know that after two years of this he must be about ready to murder me himself. Actually, scratch that. He probably wishes his crew had done it when they threatened it.

“I am NOT leaving.  I know what you swore to Mother.”

“I am a Pirate, you know. It means I don’t KEEP my word.”

“You always kept your word to momma.”

My father sighs heavily.  The crew pays us no mind. We have had this almost exact argument more times than I can count. I really don’t know why he bothers anymore.

“One of these days missy, you will not be able to stay on this ship. And you better hope your feet land somewhere you want to stay.”

“Aye, aye sir.”

I watch him glare at me, and realize that his wheels are turning. He has taken me all over the world in the past two years trying to tempt me off this ship to keep his promise. More than once he has tried to have me carried off. After a few little mishaps, his men refuse to even try. I may not be allowed to be a pirate, but I am one by birth. I always have tricks up my sleeve.

But, so it appears, does my father.  I see a man waving on shore, and I hear my father’s shouts. “Father! Long time no see.”

We have pulled in much closer than we normally would.  As we reach the pier, it dawns on me how familiar this place is. And there is only one person my father would call Father. “You tricky man.”

He picks that moment to turn and smile. “You remember your grandfather? Your mother wanted to see him again, but she did not get the chance. I thought it was time I honored that part of the bargain.”

“I am still not stepping foot on this island.”

“Have it your way. TIE HER UP MEN! WE STAY HERE”  There is a large shout from the crew. They are ready to rest.  On my father’s mad dash from the top of the globe to here in his effort to tempt me off the boat, they have had little of it.

I so badly want to see my grandfather.  It has been almost five years.  I was only 12 the last time I saw him, but I still remember him reading to me by the fire. It was one of the reasons I starting writing down my father’s adventures.

(Battery is dying. I really like this.  More later)

Let me know what you think!