The Weird Adventures of Dick and Jane

Here’s another piece of flash fiction from Terrible Minds. There are bad words in this short story. It is 1414 words, and a little bit looney! The prompt came from THEY FIGHT CRIME, which gives hilarious prompts apparently!

My prompt: He’s a Green-fingered advertising executive who believes he’s a wolf. She’s a mentally unstable astronaut with a magical ham sandwich in her pocket.

And the story:

Dick finished his nightly howl after checking in on his calla lilies. Of course they bloomed with the power of a thousand glories. After all, Dick had always had green-fingers as his  grandma liked to say. God rest her soul. He looked up to the sky to see the tiny dot, he thought was a star, traveling closer and closer. He didn’t think that was right. In fact, he’d drawn stars before. He was drawing stars right now for some pathetic ad he had to do for the Wright Agency. God, he hated the Wright Agency. They were always wrong in his opinion. He opened his mouth to howl again.

His neighbor threw open his window, “Shut the fuck up, Dick. You’re not a wolf. You’re just a goddamn asshole for waking everyone up with your incessant howling, every single goddamn night!”

Dick ignored his neighbor’s negative comments and asked, “How about those Braves?”

“Damn, your mother knew what she was doing when she named you Dick,” the neighbor said, closing the window.

Dick didn’t let it bother him. Instead, he focused on the dot. Now it looked entirely too close. And in fact, it wasn’t a dot anymore. It looked like a—s.

Close call, Dick thought, as he brushed himself off from where he’d thrown himself. The spacecraft landed on the other side of his fence sparing his morning-glories and forget-me-nots. The neighbor’s house had been saved too. Too bad. Dick didn’t think anyone could survive that kind of landing, but the spacecraft, the size of a mini-cooper, looked largely intact. His fur of his beard bristled up as he walked out the back gate and stood near the spaceship.

Dick sneaked up to the spacecraft on all fours. Smoke rose from one side. He knocked on it, hearing the hollow sound of metal ring out against the night. Other people looked on from their windows, but no one was as brave as Dick. He protected his territory with a canine ferocity and the machine had landed precariously close to his land.

The door opened and he jumped back, landing on his hands and feet. He barred his teeth and began growling as the astronaut stepped out of the spacecraft. She lifted the orange space helmet from her head, and shook out her long strawberry locks. Her eyes twinkled, illuminated by the moon, and to Dick it seemed as if she’d walked right out of a fairy tale to meet him. Dick barred his teeth and began sniffing as she walked closer to him. He stared at her orange spacesuit which looked a little too tight around her breast area.

“Where am I?”

He stood up and brushed the dirt off his arms and legs.

“Outside Atlanta. Name’s Dick. Top wolf, these parts. Somewhat of a Casanova, really.”

“Wolf?” Her brows knitted into a question mark above her head. “Tried to make it to Mars. Dammit. Failed again.”

Dick hung his head and whined.

“Wolf! The fuck you are!” the woman screamed.

Dick backed away from the woman, unsure why she was so angry. He wanted to go back into his house and work on his ad. He felt safe inside his den. He sat back on his haunches against the roughness of the asphalt as she came toward him. He thought she wanted to attack him, but instead she helped him up on to two legs then wrapped her arms around him in an embrace. She smelled. Not like perfume. Like meat. He stuck out his tongue and salivated, dripping salvia all over her orange spacesuit. He sniffed, leaning down toward her and she let him, amazingly. Most people hit him or attacked him with their purses when he started sniffing around them. He sniffed all the way down to her pocket. He could tell the smell came from there. He wanted to take a bite, but she gently pushed him away.

“Not that. Not here. Not now. Can we go somewhere private?”

He pointed to his backyard, and he opened the gate for her.

“The flowers.”

“Green-fingers,” Dick said, waving them in front of her face like jazz hands.

The garden brimmed with flowers of every imaginable kind. Dick could plant anything. Orchids sprang up from the mere thought of his touch. His backyard felt like paradise, unless you were allergic, then it would have been a nightmare.

Inside the house, the fire cackled.

“Fire in the summer?”

“I sleep on the hearth,” Dick said.

“Do you think you’re actually a wolf?”

Dick’s face took on a blank stare. “Tea?”

“I hate fucking tea,” she said. She picked up the closest thing she saw, a framed picture of Dick’s prized pumpkin from 1997, and threw it against the brick wall closest to her. Dick didn’t flinch. Instead, he went over to the fire and stoked it, ignoring the woman’s hostile glances. She broke into tears again, and Dick knew something was wrong with her. A mental illness. Depression maybe.

“Why do you have a sandwich in your pocket?” he asked.

“This?”

She pulled out a ham sandwich. Dick could smell it from all away across the room. Ham and cheese on ciabatta bread with honey mustard, lettuce, and tomato. It looked like something you’d order from Panera or Subway. Dick loved meat. Any kind would do. Of course he normally ate it completely raw.

“That,” he started salivating again.

“This is a magical sandwich,” she said. Her eyes glowed as she gazed at it.

“Magical?”

“Magical. It can grant my wishes. What’s your one wish?”

“Like a genie in a bottle?” Dick felt his ears perk up the way they did when he was out on a hunt.

“Yes, I suppose like a genie,” she said. She cradled the sandwich as if it were a piece of crystal. The smell wafted toward Dick, and the hunger in the pit of his stomach doubled.

“To find a mate. To expand my brood. What is yours?”

“To make it to Mars.”

“What’s on Mars?”

She shrugged her shoulders as if the answer to that question was not the least bit important.

“What’s your name?”

“Jane.”

He plopped down in front of the fire and stretched out, rolling onto his back and exposing his belly. He then turned to his eyes and stared at her with his wolf eyes, calculating the right time to pounce. Instead, he asked a question, because after all he knew in the human world the way to a woman’s heart was through her mind. And Jane was no ordinary woman.

“If the sandwich is magical, then why hasn’t your wish come true?

“If you’re a wolf, then why don’t you have fur?”

“Touché.”

Dick could feel the crazy emanating from Jane. But, still, he wanted to get closer to her. He did what he knew attracted female wolves. He climbed onto the couch next to her and began rubbing his head against her neck. He flicked out her tongue to groom her, but she pulled away and rose her hand as if she were about to slap him.

“What are you doing?” she screeched.

She pulled at her hair in distress. Dick moved closer then stroked her again trying to calm her down. She put her hands down on the couch and pushed herself further away from him. He growled deeply then pounced.

She screamed as his teeth ripped into the sandwich, shoving the whole thing into his mouth, hardly chewing before he swallowed.

“The magic,” she sobbed.

 

* * *

“She’s stabilized.”

“Jane. You were out a long time. But Dr. Hartsell said the shock treatment might have worked. Isn’t that great news?

“You Dick!” she shouted.

She tried to sit up, straining against the restraints meant to keep her from attacking. Dick backed up and shook his head dejectedly at the doctor.

The man in the white coat paced the room as Jane raged. He made his way over to the medicine cabinet and opened the drawer. He pulled out a needle and a vial. From previous hospitalizations, Dick knew it always took awhile to stabilize her. He scratched behind his ear, making his left leg move up and down slightly, as he watched the doctor inject her. Her screams quieted and an ominous silence filled the room.

“What’s that smell?” Dr. Hartsell asked.

Dick reached into his pocket to find the remnants of a half-eaten ham and cheese sandwich.

“Funny. I thought I’d finished that.”

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PS: The Devil Within is only available until May 31, 2016. Don’t forget to get your copy while you still can at Amazon.

The Boy

I wrote this piece for a Chuck Wendig Terrible Minds flash fiction challenge.

 

The photo I used can be found here: http://photo.net/photodb/photo?photo_id=3003524

I’m trying to write more recently, and flash always gets me started so I can focus on longer works. I hope you enjoy.


The Boy

Found: Small boy. Won’t sit still. Speaks no English.

He bit my hand when we found him. Sitting on a school chair in the cave near the river where we fished. A baby really, but wild like an animal. I don’t know how long he’d been there and whether his behavior indicated he’d been raised by wolves or simply abandoned by the people who were supposed to care for him.

I’d read, in the old days, deformed babies or unwanted babies were left out in the elements to die. But he was neither. Blonde hair and blue eyes set in his head like a china doll. He was perfect looking but for the layer of dirt so thick it had turned his skin the color of a darkie. He squealed and clawed at my face when I tried to put him in the tub.  Jeffrey had to take over, and he seethed so much with anger I thought he’d drown the boy. When I pulled the baby out, his skin looked red and raw from being scrubbed so hard with the lye soap. The water in the tin tub looked as black as the soil on the land we farmed.

“Wild animal. Can’t live here,” Jeffrey said, as the boy ran around the room screeching and hollering.

He posted the signs around town. Went out on horseback and listed our address below the words. But no one wanted a castaway and so the boy stayed. For months. And the baby growing inside me began to make its presence known.

I tried to teach the boy English. I pointed to the bump on my stomach and said, “Baby.” I labeled all the objects in the cabin, pointed to the words and said the names.  He moved his mouth but only pathetic animal sounds erupted from his lips. In anger, he projected his small body onto the floor kicking up dust and dirt until I had to walk away.

“We have to get rid of him,” Jeffrey said.

But I shook my head. I did not agree.

Jeffrey and I lay under the quilt in the oak bed as the boy, or the animal as Jeffrey called him, slept on the pallet on the floor kicking and screaming in his sleep. Jeffrey reached over and rubbed my belly. The baby didn’t move for him.

“This is our child. That’s not,” he said pointing to the boy.

Weeks of arguments as the baby inside me grew. And the boy seemed to become more wild.

“Cannot be tamed,” Jeffrey said, sitting at the kitchen table wiping the sweat and the dirt from his brow.

And the whole time something grew inside me. Guilt, fear, and anger. On the inside I began to take on the feelings of the boy. A wild rage Jeffrey couldn’t understand swelled up like a hurricane within me. A wild rage threatened the humanity inside of me. And Jeffrey began to turn his back upon me. At night, the gulf between us grew. He’d touch the small of my back, and I pulled away from the roughness of his fingertips. And even as the chasm widened, I became closer to the boy. I felt he was a part of me. I felt I understood his pain. I felt he had given it to me to share. Something inside, deep down, told me not to give up on him.

The boy began to take my hand. He would roll his hand into a fist and push it against my open palm. His cries ceased, and he became silent. His silence permeated me, and I began to speak less and less. He put his grimy little hand against my belly, and the baby inside me squirmed and moved under the softness of his fingers.

In one breath, I let go of the rage, and Jeffrey inhaled it, filling up his whole body with a palpable anger. He shouted at me and the boy. He spent longer days in the field away from me. Away from the boy. When the shouts didn’t work he filled our house with an unthinkable void of sound. The silence sat at our dinner table like an uninvited guest.  The tension took on a personality filling our souls with hatred.

And then one morning, I awoke to find the boy gone. Jeffrey sat at the table with a pocket knife, sharpening a branch.

“Going fishing. Want to come?”

I shook my head but didn’t utter a word. I felt alone and abandoned stuck within myself, but Jeffrey’s terrible anger had fled with the boy.

Jeffrey had been gone a few hours when the contractions started. I knew from watching my mama give birth that labor wasn’t quick. But there were other plans for me. The boy clawed his way out of me as quickly as he could. The pain felt so intense that all the rage and loneliness of the last few months escaped through the bestial screams coming from my lips.

The baby stared up at me with blue eyes. He opened his mouth to cry, but instead the boy’s animal sounds spilled out of his throat. I held him to my nipples, and I whispered into his ears, “Now you’re mine forever. No one can take you away. I will never abandon you again.”

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PS: The Devil Within is only available for the next three weeks. Don’t forget to get your copy while you still can at Amazon.

 

School Girl Crush

Yesterday, I wrote a scene for a work in progress about a childhood crush. In this yet-to-be-named novel I’m writing, the man had a childhood crush on a girl who spent the summers with him in Cape Cod. At a certain point, she never comes back. He spends his life tracking her down, and then stalking her until they meet again under strange circumstances on the METRO in Washington D.C. This scene had me thinking about my own crushes through my lifetime.

When I turned 12, which was a lifetime ago, my dad decided he wanted us to have family time by learning how to SCUBA (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus). Yes, I had a privileged youth. I remember the nights we spent in the pool, learning how to breathe underwater. I also remember the book I was handed to study up on SCUBA, because all SCUBA divers have to pass a written test, even the twelve year olds.

Lauren SCUBA

That book with its blue cover sat by my bedside as I simultaneously thought of boys and played with Barbies. I had entered that time in my life where my body was changing and I was going through puberty, but I still loved my dolls. I straddled the line between childhood and adulthood, not sure where I belonged yet. As an aside, I also wore a heck of a lot of Laura Ashley jumpers. Twelve year olds today do not dress the way we did in the early 1990’s that’s for sure.

When the test day came I stared at the problems, and they looked like gobbly-gook. In all truth, I think there was a whole lot of Algebra. Math wasn’t my forte, and I hadn’t even started Algebra yet. (Now they seem to start it in Kindergarten, but then they didn’t).

And so, Phil, a tall, buff, blonde dive-pro at the shop sat next to me and gave me hints. He knew I knew the rules and how to dive. He just needed to give me a little bit of encouragement, so I could pass. And pass I did, with his help.

I’m sure dive-pro Phil knew I was in love with him. I made it blatantly obvious. I followed him around like a puppy-dog. I asked for him to be my dive partner on numerous occasions. I thought, me, a twelve year old child had a chance with this grown-up twenty-five year old man.

And Phil, knowing I was a child, dealt with it in such a nice way. He was kind. He didn’t blow me off. He never belittled me or was condescending. I’ll never forget, on one of our dive trips—I can’t remember if this was in Florida or in the Cayman’s—my mom burst her eardrum. I wanted to go back out in the water, because I was looking for sand dollars. So Phil went out with me, and he dragged his knife through the sand so we could find our way back to the boat, and took me out to a whole colony of sand dollars. This meant so much to my twelve-year old heart. He dealt with my school-girl crush with such grace, but he also gave me no allusions that he reciprocated (thank God—I was just a child).

Now I’m a grown-up, and I know the crush on dive-pro Phil was an adolescent awakening to the world of love and romance for me. It’s funny thinking back on those days and remembering how young and naïve I was. I had many more crushes after that, and I’m sure people had crushes on me. That’s just the way it goes. But the thing that makes crushes feel so poignant is the impossibility involved that doesn’t exist in a loving relationship. A crush is just that, a crush, and if it never moves forward it wanes and dies and both parties move on with their lives.

I don’t remember how I felt when I heard dive-pro Phil was getting married. I remember thinking it was logical, because he was an adult. But being only twelve or thirteen years old, it didn’t hit me the same way as other crushes who rejected me, who went on to get married, who left me when I felt like I needed them the most, or who moved on when they should have for the benefit of us both.

The thing about crushes, as illustrated in this story, is that they can teach you about love. Dive-pro Phil looked at me as a child, someone he could help teach to dive. He mentored me, and taught me about kindness, which is such a huge aspect of love. And he did it in a way that was appropriate, even knowing that I had a school-girl crush on him. I’ve learned a lot from all the crushes I’ve had, because pain also brings insight. I moved on and I learned how to apply that knowledge to my relationships, and now to my marriage.

Interestingly enough, another Phil came along when I was in college, and I thought I loved him so much. I put him on a pedestal, and I didn’t walk away even when he hurt me. I didn’t walk away even when I started hurting him. He was my best friend, my confidante, but the truth is a relationship wouldn’t have worked between us because we didn’t know how to communicate our deepest feelings with one another. It made the time we had together thrilling and fun, but it also made it hurtful, confusing, and frustrating. It took me a long time to move on from Phil2, and my relationship with my now-husband suffered because of my grief associated with losing my friendship with Phil2 and the possibility of what could have been between us. Once I processed all those heavy emotions, my relationship with my husband grew.

Crushes crush. They’re intense, yes, but they’re meant to end. Relationships bring a whole new level of love to your life, one that grows and changes with time. A crush is fleeting and not meant to last forever, but a lesson for how to love in your true and meaningful relationships.

Who was your first crush?

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Choices, Procrastination, Overbooking

Today, I made a choice to work on yearbook for PTA. I made a choice at the beginning of the year to be the Yearbook co-chair, and no matter how much I may regret that choice I committed myself and therefore must do it! The thing is, I usually like doing creative tasks, like design the yearbook. But now, I feel like it’s one more thing I added to my list when I should have made my focus this year writing and running.

I started out this year gung ho about writing. And as other humans may know, sometimes that insatiability at the beginning wanes with time.

For instance, when you meet a new person and fall in love, all you can think about is that person. 24/7 you are thinking about them, fantasizing about them, and wanting to talk to them over and over again about everything under the sun. You literally cannot get enough. You think the feeling will last forever, and suddenly without warning you’ve been married for fifteen years, and that person you used to feel so giddy about is scratching his butt on the couch and peeing all over your guest bathroom floors. Honeymoon over.

The same thing happens when we take on a new endeavor like writing. When I first started focusing on my writing, all I wanted to do was write. I loved the feeling of writing. I loved the rush it gave me when someone praised my work. But then, I hit a roadblock, and wham! I stopped writing.  Why? Because writing is hard, and a writer has to make a conscious effort to choose to write, even on the days when that writer feels like the writing sucks. Even on the days, when the writer writes 1,000 words and promptly hits delete. Even on the days, when she feels like no one is buying her work. Writing is hard and full of roadblocks and rejection. So how can we stop the roadblocks from holding us back in what we want to achieve in life? How can we go forward with our writing when we feel overwhelmed?

  • First, stop choosing everything else over writing. Stop blaming procrastination. Procrastinating is a choice.  Once you realize this, it’s easier to think consciously about moving on from that procrastination and choosing to write especially on the days it’s hard. People have praised me for having written two books saying, “I can’t believe you do that, have three kids, and a day-job,” but the truth is when there’s something you want to do and love to do then nothing can stop you from doing it. So don’t let yourself stop you from doing it simply because it’s hard.
  • Don’t take on more than you can chew. I need to listen to this advice. I think in our world, we’re expected to do so much. Be a working parent, go to all the school functions, volunteer, make food. But don’t. Seriously learn how to say no. I didn’t say no enough this year and probably overextended myself. Don’t add things to your life if you don’t have the time to commit to them.
  • Prioritize: If you’re striving to be a writer, get published, or finish a novel then make writing your priority. Get up early and write. Stay up until midnight to write. Just write so words can get on paper and you are achieving your goals. Make choices that are conducive with this lifestyle, instead of making choices that will sabotage your end-game.
  • Give Yourself Grace: Being someone who has dealt with depression for most of my adult life, this one is very important. Everyone needs weeks and sometimes even months to regroup. Sometimes I do this by watching hours of Netflix. Then I won’t watch TV for months, and I’ll refocus on my writing or my reading (which by the way helps you be a better writer).
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help: I think we humans tend to think we live in a box and that our experience is individual from everyone else. The truth is, we’re part of a larger society. We have other people we can depend on when we need it. My husband is a huge supporter of me. He makes my life easy at home, often doing laundry, cooking, and generally picking up the slack. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have his help (live in a pit). And the thing is, I know I can always talk to him when I’m feeling down, or when I’ve been procrastinating for months, or when I think nobody will ever read my book again. The truth is, being a writer is hard and can be discouraging, so having someone who can talk you out of the deep pit of despair is awesome. Having people who say, “You need to write,” is inspiring and it helps motivate me to do what I want again. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, because true friends want you to succeed.

This post is as much a reminder to myself as it is to my audience on what I need to do to stop letting life get in the way of achieving my dreams.

What do you think is your biggest hindrance to your goals?

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Excuses

This is the excuse post. The one that explains what the hell I’ve been doing in the last week and half since you haven’t heard from me. Mostly it’s because it’s Christmas time, and Christmas time is crazy-busy time in my already crazy-busy world.

Also, I chose not to work out on Monday so I could stay home and watch Christmas Vacation, snuggle on the couch with the kids, and eat popcorn. I have my priorities straight!

But seriously, I want you to know this blog isn’t going silent, but the next few months I have a lot going on so I will not be posting as much as usual.

  1. Christmas Time: Of course! How many parties can be fit into one month? Can I get all my Christmas shopping done and wrap and still escape with my sanity?
  2. Gymnastics Season here we come. In case you’re new here and didn’t know, my oldest son is a gymnast and gymnastics season kicked off in November, but it beefs up in January and February. We will be crazy busy, but I hope to post some of his videos here if I get a new camera for Christmas. He’s pretty amazing. I’m not biased!
  3. I may be am a little crazy, because I’m actually entertaining the idea of running a half-marathon with my sisters in April. Here’s the training schedule I’m doing, and as you can see it’s taking up A LOT of my mornings that I used to use for blogging. I’m still not certain I can do it, but heck, I’m going to try!
  4. HalfMarathonTraining
  5. I can’t get rid of that 4 above and bring it down below, so you’ll just have to deal!
  6. I’ve been really into reading this month. I read I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson, and it was flipping fantastic. I highly recommend it.

All of these excuses to say that I’m really sorry! I hope to post at least once a week in the next couple of months, but wanted to stop by to tell you a little bit about what’s going on in my crazy life. Also, if you’re a subscriber to my newsletter, a new one will be coming out on December 31, 2015!


 

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What If…

What if I had written all weekend long? What if I chose a different career path? What if I hadn’t had children? What if I had married someone else? What if I didn’t live in Alabama?

“What if?” is the essential question in writing a story. Most stories start out with an author thinking “what if.” I spent most of my weekend on the couch, because my five year old was sick. While having my hot potato of a baby lay on me all day, I watched the whole season of The Man In The High Castle. I realize this makes me an extreme couch potato. But the story was so good I couldn’t tear myself away. I went to the bathroom a few times, and ate, and my daughter cuddled up against me and I provided her comfort, which is what one needs when they’re sick. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a weekend, minus the “sick.”

This show on Amazon is so well done, based on the book by Philip Dick, which I have yet to read (it’s on my list). And it asks the question “what if the Nazis and Japan won WWII?” What a question to explore. The characters are so believable, and the suspense kept me watching. Highly recommended!

I tout myself as a character writer. The Devil Within mostly was written because I felt a strong connection to Will’s character. But the “what if
questions were still there. I asked myself, “What if I were growing up with an oppressively religious father? What would I do? What are the emotions I would feel? What if fundamental religion hurts more than helps? What if the person I’m supposed to depend on most hurts me the most? What if my ally is not a saint?” These are just a few questions I asked myself as I wrote The Devil Within. I’m not sure I found the answers, but writing through it helped me explore thoughts on religion, family, and guilt that I’ve had for a long time.

The new story I’m writing I’m asking myself : “What if everything is not as it seems? What if your whole life is one big lie?”

I often wonder why I feel the need to write, but I think it’s because I’m always thinking about the “what if” questions. Life isn’t black and white. It’s filled with choices, different paths, and to me writing is a way to discover what might have happened if…

“What if” question are you trying to answer today?


 

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Top 10 Tuesday Goals

I’m in the full throes of NaNoWriMo this week. I meant to blog yesterday, but even waking up at 4:15 (thanks to Fall Back), it took me the whole morning before work to get in my 1649 words.

Excuse any typos. I’m going to try to re-read this to make sure I pluck them all out but it’s hard with this dang splint.

Broken metacarpal

I’m feeling behind the eight-ball this week, which could be due to how crazy my day job felt last week. Or the fact that I feel like I’ll never finish editing Little Birdhouses. Plus I’ve been binge-watching Scandal, which isn’t good for me. But, damn, that show is so good. I mean who doesn’t love the chemistry between Olivia and the President? And that’s some good writing, although some of the shows have become more predictable to me lately. No spoilers please. I’m watching it on Netflix.

So today, I thought I’d list some goals so I don’t get sucked into Netflix-land. These are goals just for today:

  1. Smile: Yep. I put this on mt goal list. Maybe I’m suffering from SAD, but my overbooked, overwhelming schedule is driving me nuts. I’m about ready to escape to anywhere but here (but preferably a place where there’s a beach and a cocktail in my hand). Smiling helps me feel better and it makes other people feel good too.
  2. Edit Chapter Four of Little Birdhouses: I’m on the 4th revision now, and for some reason whenever my schedule fills up, I forget I ought to be revising this. I need to edit it and send it onto my readers.
  3. Write 1650 words on The Cape: At least that’s what I think the story will be called. I shared the beginning of the story here last week. It’s taking off, and now I’m writing two novels at the same time. Tell me when I’ll fit all that in?
  4. Run: It’s 3 mile Tuesday. I’ll try to get in 3 miles this AM or 30 minutes. Running makes me feel sane. Plus, I can listen to All The Light We Cannot See while I’m hitting the pavement, which is more productive than watching Scandal.
  5. Clean Out My Desk: At work. I’m on an organizational kick, which only happens to me about once a year, so I need to take advantage of it while I can.
  6. Write a newsletter: For PTA. Due this week.
  7. Talk to a friend: Friends are so great to keep us motivated and grounded. Tonight is gymnastics/TKD night, which means I’ll be sitting on a bench for about four hours. I love the gym moms. It’s so nice to have friends who understand the craziness of gym life! I love all my friends. You guys rock!
  8. Breath: I can’t do yoga with my broken hand, but I can practice my deep breathing when I’m overwhelmed.
  9. Laugh: Laughter is the best antidote when I feel down. It feels us with endorphins. Sometimes laughing at the disaster of living makes you realize how small your problems are in the big scheme of things.
  10. Have Fun: I started writing because I enjoyed it. Writing’s my dream job, and so it’s important to me that I still have fun when I do it. Creating worlds, characters, analogies is amazing and makes me in awe of what the human brain is capable of.

What are your goals today?


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Persistence in the Face of Fear

Hey Lovely Readers! I’m fessing up as a slacker once again. With this short and busy week, I feel like I’ve been behind the 8-ball. But before I get to the point of this post, I don’t want you to slack and miss the opportunity to get The Devil Within for 99 cents! The sale ends on October 17th, so there’s not a lot of time! If you like Southern literature and coming-of-age novels with some grit then you’ll like this book.

The Devil Within Cover

Enough of my shameless plugs. Now back to slacking. Over the weekend, I started writing a new piece. Yeah, I know. I was supposed to stick to rural Alabama and Anna Kate. But I was stuck–seriously stuck. And then I wrote a short for the class I’m taking through University of Iowa (Go DUCKS!), and it begged to be expanded. And people in the class really liked it. And as a writer, I seek to serve my readers.

I also ran a lot this weekend, and when I run I think. And sometimes I overthink. As we all know from the post that’s circulating around Facebook, overthinking is a sign of being a creative genius (or so some article says, and I’d like to believe that over just thinking I’m nuts). Overthinking can also cause some issues. My thought process revolved around solving problems in both books when I ran, but pretty soon it turned into: Why am I writing? Does anyone even want to read my books? Why does it have to be so hard to land an agent? Will I ever finish editing Little Birdhouses? Can I even write a query letter? Is it worth it? And fifty thousand other rhetorical questions I could throw out of you. Rhetorical questions are a no-no in writing too, but if you know me you know I LOVE to break the rules.

Every writer questions themselves and what they’re doing and whether it matters. They want to hide behind a rock in the face of fear. Instead of facing the wolf, they’d rather curl up in their bed and be eaten. Do the brave thing and write the words, because if you don’t you’re going to be more unhappy than if you do. If you’re a writer then you have to write for sanity. If you’re a writer then you have a driving force and you need to write. If you’re a writer, I’m here to tell you DON’T GIVE UP! I have thoughts that my writing sucks and no one wants to read it. Everyone has those thoughts. Taking this online class has boosted my confidence as a writer ten-fold. I’ve received such great and positive feedback on my work. It’s nice to receive that after receiving tons of rejections for agents, because at least I know if I keep trying I will some day make it.

And what does making it even mean? It means making writing a priority in my life every day, editing my stuff, putting it out there and making a few bucks. Sure, I’d like to be rolling in the dough like Stephen King, but I know it’s not realistic. Maybe some day–we can all hope to dream. But the important thing is: Don’t give up! Don’t give into the fear. If you give into fear you’ll never know how far you can go (I even wrote a blog post about that not so long ago).

Now, if you want this same post with more colorful language go read Chuck Wendig’s post over at Terrible Minds. He knows what he’s talking about.

And I promise I’ll stop slacking (maybe). And I’ll write a blog post tomorrow morning before I succumb to fear in the Maze of Terror (that’s another story).

What do you do when you’re slacking or procrastinating (in anything, not just writing) and how do you get back to the task at hand? I play Civilization or binge watch Netflix.


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Adventures of Smithsonian Mug Continued

Does everyone out there in this great big world of ours feel like they never have enough time? Or is that because I’m an over-committer. I’m loving this free MOOC (massive online course–or something like that) I’m taking, and I’ve been spending a lot of my free seconds online with the class. And so today, I’m going to share the second piece I wrote for the class, in which the mug I personified becomes an object of conflict and desire. The assignment was to have two people fight about the object. I chose to do this with the mug as simply an object, not personified as in the last assignment.

Oh, and if you’re a visual person here is Grandfather Mug and Red Tall Mug from the last story “Smithsonian Mug.” You may want to read that one before you read this, but they can stand alone too.

Red Tall Mug and Grandfather Mug

Cracked Up
About 500 words

“I know I left Smithsonian mug on the shelf. Have you seen it, Rob?”

Rob sat at the table and upon hearing my words shifted his eyes and turned his back, ever-so-slightly, away from me.

“Haven’t seen it.”

I glanced at the pot of coffee, only two-thirds of the way full, instead of brimming over the top like normal. The rich aroma of brewed beans led me to Smithsonian mug.

“Ah-ha!” I said. “You have it.”

“It’s just a mug, Lauren. Get another one. Red tall mug is in the cabinet.”

“I don’t want red tall mug. I want Smithsonian mug. Smithsonian mug belongs to me. I bought it! I want to feel the curve of its warmth against the palm of my hand. And Smithsonian mug wants to be there too. I can tell.”

I slammed my fist on the table, and Smithsonian mug wobbled as black coffee spilt from its edges onto the white surface of the breakfast room table.

Rob’s startled eyes opened wide. “Smithsonian mug doesn’t want to be corrupted by milk. Black coffee only.”

“What are you talking about? Smithsonian mug loves milk. The feeling Smithsonian mug gets when he’s filled with coffee and then slurps up a teaspoon of milk. It’s like how a child feels dipping an Oreo and waiting for it to get just the right amount of soggy before popping it in his mouth.”

“Fine, you can have your precious mug!” Rob said.

He stomped toward me but didn’t see the Barbie doll on the floor until it was too late. It happened in slow motion. He tripped one leg held askance from his body as his arms flung out from his side, trying to catch his balance. Smithsonian mug flew through the air, coffee splashing the sage green walls of the kitchen. The deafening roar of the crash filled my ears as the precious mug shattered into small pieces across the tile floor. Smithsonian mug was no more.

“At least we can’t fight over it anymore,” Rob said. “I’ll get the mop.”


Some comments I received about this, is that my hand on the table was too startling and did not flow with the fight. I could see that, but anyone who knows me knows that I sometimes react more strongly than the situation calls for. My husband is also like this, and sometimes he’s non-nonchalant, like he is at the end of the story. Still, it gave me something to ponder in relationship to my story-telling skills, which is the point of the class after all.

What do you think? If you’re a writer, leave me a comment-story about an object that’s being fought over! I’d love to read it.


Did you know The Devil Within ebook is on sale until October 17th! Pick up your copy on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1QU3axK.

The Devil Within Cover


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Smithsonian Mug

I’m sitting in my blue chair listening to Johnny Cash cover One (originally by U2). Look it up if you haven’t heard his rendition. It’s fantastic. It’s Monday, and that means a Monday Blog. I thought today I’d share the first of three pieces I wrote for the online class I’m taking: How Writers Write Fiction.

The first week of the online class was Welcome Week, and there were three assignments to get the creative juices flowing. In the first assignment bringing an everyday object to life. I chose the Smithsonian Mug. I chose this mostly because I love coffee, and I drink out of this mug almost every day. It’s my favorite (sort of like my snowman pajamas).

Smithsonian Mug

I sit on the center of the shelf. All the others surround me. I am the prized possession. The one she always reaches for first in the morning. I sit up tall, proudly displaying the words We Can Do It! of a suffragette woman from long ago. She calls me the Smithsonian mug, named after the place I was born, where other mugs like me lined the shelves, my sisters and brothers in ceramic. The images printed on my body proudly display historical images of this land where we live. My grandfather, faded from too many cycles, has been pushed to the dank, dark, back of the cabinet. I can see the crack of light seeping through the seam in the cabinet door like a ray of light, but is he left behind to languish in disuse.

Every time the doors open and she reaches her hand in, I stand up a little taller, hoping to be picked. I am like a child calling out pick me, pick me to the captain of the team during P.E. I am the popular one, and my fellow mugs are the ones who are always picked last.

My print is fresh and unspoiled. I look back at Grandpa mug, hanging his head low, hoping to be put out of his misery, transferred into a brown box and sent off somewhere as others have gone before. We simply call it going to the box. No one knows where you go after you leave this place, this house, the world directly beyond the cabinet.

Red Tall Mug said The Man took him in a car one time. But she, The Woman, only drinks from me in the morning while sitting in the blue recliner, typing away at keys on a black box. Red Tall Mug says the world is vast and more beautiful than we could imagine. But I am content, being filled with coffee and a splash of milk, and sitting cradled in the palm of her soft hands as she continues to pick me to provide her with the kind of creature comfort only I can provide.


Did you know The Devil Within ebook is on sale until October 17th! Pick up your copy on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1QU3axK.

The Devil Within Cover


Follow Lauren Greene:

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