Category Archives: Jess Jarman

Promptly Penned #1

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Promplty Penned

This year we’ve added a new flash fiction type entry to our blogging activities, it’s called Promptly Penned and it happens once a month on a Wednesday. The idea is that we all start with a phrase or a couple of lines of dialogue. These lines can serve as inspiration or can be worked into the flash fiction piece, it all depends on where it takes each of us. Here’s the prompt for this month:

“Some choices are easy, like fudge ripple or butter pecan, some choices aren’t. Can you guess which one this was?”

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Butter pecan? Fudge ripple? Butter pecan? Fudge ripple? I’d been standing in the open door of the grocery store freezer case for so long that my face had gone numb and I still couldn’t pick an ice cream flavor. Screw it, I thought. After the week I’ve had I deserve both. I grabbed a pint of each and headed toward the check out.

 As I waited in line, watching each incompetent person ahead of my try to figure out how to use the self-checkout machine, I went through every horrible thing that had happened this week.

First there was the lady at work who insisted on butting into every meeting and project I was a part of, even if she wasn’t invited. Nothing like making me feel completely incompetent. Then there were the redneck neighbors and their blaring country music until all hours of the night. And the neighbors on the other side with the ugly, yappy dog that had tried to take my foot off. Thank goodness for winter boots. The flat tire in twenty degree weather. And finally, the surprise visit from my parents that had left me feeling like a failure, as always.

By the time I got to the checkout, I was about ready to swap out the two pints of ice cream for a fifth of rum.

 Three hours later I was passed out on the couch in an ice cream coma, blissfully ignoring the world. Around midnight, I sat up suddenly, not sure what had woken me. Getting up off the couch, I stepped in a pool of melted ice cream. Great, I thought, a mess to clean up. As I tried to orient myself I realized what had woken me. I could hear the sound of breaking glass coming from the back door. It must have been the initial crash that woke me and now someone was clearing out the rest to get to the locks.

As silently as I could, I made my way to the kitchen where I had left my phone, taking care to avoid all of the squeaky spots in the wood floor. Once in the kitchen, I looked around for my phone and realized I had, in fact, taken it upstairs to charge it.  Damn! Now what?

I heard the back door open and realized I had to make a decision. I grabbed the chef’s knife out of the dish drainer and tip toed over the kitchen door that led out to the back entryway and hid behind it. Could I do this? Could I defend myself against someone breaking into my house and maybe kill them? Absolutely.

Choosing an ice cream flavor was almost impossible but deciding I could kill someone to protect myself was the easiest decision I’d ever made.

I saw a shadow cross the threshold of the kitchen door and took a deep breath.

See what stories the other ladies came up with this week:

Kris
Bronwyn
Jess
Paige
Jessica
Kellie

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Wednesday Randomness – Best Memories of 2015

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This week we’re talking about our best memories from 2015.

Winter is pretty lame around here, mostly because I work non-stop through January and February, so I’m going to blow right past those and start with March.

Puppy Thor turned one (and yes I’m a huge dork).

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In June, B and I went to a wedding in Traverse City. It was awesome. The wedding was small, maybe 30-40 people, and was at Mission Table on the Old Mission Peninsula. The place was absolutely gorgeous, I’d never even heard of it before. The ceremony was outside with the lake as a backdrop and the dinner was in a private dining room with a cut stone fireplace.

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The day after the wedding, the bride and groom paid for the guests to go on a wine tasting tour to three of their favorite places, which is how I discovered my new favorite place, Tandem Ciders.

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Me and B

A couple of weeks after the wedding, I headed farther north for my annual writer’s retreat with some of my friends. We stay at a cabin/house on Lake Superior for a week and write, eat, talk, laugh (a ton), and have basically an amazing time.

On the way up, we had a major tire blow out. That was not awesome, but Bronwyn’s driving was so we survived the horror.

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Later on during the drive we saw a rainbow, so that helped cheer us up. And then Jenny Trout found a newspaper with an article about a festival for her people.

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We got to spend a little bit of time at the Lake (it’s always super cold in June still). All in all, we had a great time.

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This September, I went to my first ever Renaissance Fair. I have Bronwyn to thank for this experience. I didn’t even know this thing existed in Holly, MI (because I’m so out of the loop in the world) but she goes every year with her family, so this year B and I tagged along. There was jousting, actual jousting.

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There was also a dog wearing a knight.

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I will definitely be going back to the fair next year, we had a great time. I might even be in costume next time.

In October, B and I went to another wedding. This one took me to UP again, but I was happy to make the trip for one of my very closest friends. It was an amazing party, she married the man of her dreams, and looked beautiful the whole time.

Since a lot of us had to travel for the wedding, we had the shower and bachelorette party the night before.

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(All wedding photos by Elizabeth Dahlstrom and Captured Blessings Photography)

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Also in October was the celebration for B’s Uncle Jim and his husband Al. They married in June after the Supreme Court passed the ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. They have been together since 1978 so it was great that there finally able to marry.

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The end of the year consisted of holidays and normal family get togethers. Not that they weren’t a great time, but there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary that happened this year. Except I actually made it to midnight on New Year’s Eve. That’s unusual. There were a lot of great things that happened in 2015, obviously. But at the same time, I’m happy to move into 2016. There are a few things I want to a make a new start on. So, I guess the last thing I have to say about 2015 is…

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Check out the other blogs to see what good times everyone had in 2015:
Jess
Bronwyn
Jessica
Paige
Kellie
Gwen
Kris

 

 

Flash Fiction Mondays

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01-2016 LightinForest

CW: Assault

“Go into the light,” she had said. “You have to go into the light.”

Apparently I died three months ago, but I just found out yesterday. I’d been wandering around the woods trying to find the way back to my car when I met a woman. She explained it all. I had fallen and hit my head and no one had found my body. But she had sensed my lost spirit and she was here to help me move on.

“What the hell,” I said. “It’s got to be better than walking around here,” I told her.

So, when the light appeared on the path between the trees, I took a completely unnecessary deep breath, closed my eyes, and stepped into it.

And man, I was not prepared for what I found.

I opened my eyes and found myself in my college dorm room. It was exactly as I remembered, down to the hole in the blanket on my roommate’s bed and the magnets on the mini-fridge. Turning around I caught my reflection in the mirror and groaned. Shaggy brown hair that looked like I had just rolled out of bed, a Weezer t-shirt, ripped jeans, and yup, Doc Martins. Apparently I was also back in college.

The door flew open and Rob, my roommate, came thundering in.

“Kyle, finally. Where you been man? We got to go, the party’s already under way. Ben’s waiting on us.”

Not knowing what else to do, not knowing what was going on, I followed Rob out the door. This was not what I had expected when I had decided to go into the light. Was this heaven? Had I somehow gone back in time? Was I actually here in the flesh? I pinched myself, it hurt but what did that really mean.

I continued to follow Rob across campus not paying attention to where we were going, trying to figure out what was happening. I looked up when I heard someone yell my name and found that we were standing in front of the Sigma Chi house. In that moment I knew exactly what was going on. I knew what day it was and why I was here.

This night had followed me for years, and I regretted almost every minute of it.

Not waiting for my friends I dashed up the steps of the house and through the front doors. I started looking everywhere for Amy, a friend that I had known since sophomore year. She was here somewhere, in the process of drinking too much. I had to find her and get her to leave as soon as possible.

Two hours later and I still hadn’t found her. The clock in the kitchen said 12:45, so I knew it was almost the right time. The time when I had made the worst decision of my life. It was clear to me now that it wasn’t an option for me to stop this before the fact. I had to change my actions this time, not the actions of others.

Heading up to the second floor I made my way to the last bedroom on the left, and pushed the door open. There I found Amy, passed out on the bed with three frat guys and Rob standing around her. Two of the guys were holding her arms and the other two, including my roommate, were discussing what they should do.

The first time I witnessed this I had tried to tell Rob he should leave her alone but after they threatened me, I had left. Four against one after all, right? Not this time. Without a word, I launched myself at Rob catching him by surprise and knocking him into the wall. I got in two good punches before the other three were on me. But I didn’t care. Before I blacked out, I saw other people running into the room at the commotion, helping Amy off the bed and getting her to safety. Maybe this is how I was supposed to die all along, but if so, then this was the right way.

When I opened my eyes, I was on the beach. The sun was shining, the water was a clear turquoise, and the sound of the waves was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard. This was heaven, this was my heaven. I had finally made it. I corrected the biggest mistake in my life and I was rewarded.

Click below to see what the others came up:

Jess
Bronwyn
Kris
Jessica
Paige
Gwen

 

Wednesday Randomness – Goals for 2016

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It’s that time of the year, to set goals for the next year. Here they are in no particular order:

  • Finish the first draft of the novel I started this year.
  • Blog at least twice a month (which will beat my average for this year).
  • Craft more. This one is kind of generic because I’m still searching for my perfect craft. I keep trying different things but I haven’t found something that totally fits yet…I’m going to keep looking though.
  • Read 52 books. This one is completely overly-ambitious. There are times during the year when I’m too busy at work to read much, but I’m going to give it hell.
  • Stick to the at-home exercise plan I’ve developed.

 

Check out the blogs below to see what all the goals set for 2016:

Bronwyn
Jessica
Paige
Kris
Jess

 

 

Flash Fiction – Iowa by Dar Williams

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songprompt1
This week’s flash fiction is inspired by the song “Iowa” by Dar Williams. The lyrics and a link to hear the song are below.


I’ve never had a way with women
But the hills of Iowa make me wish that I could
And I’ve never found a way to say I love you
But if the chance came by, oh I, I would
But way back where I come from we never mean to bother
We don’t like to make our passions other peoples concern
And we walk in the world of safe people
And at night we walk into our houses and burn

Iowa, Iowa, I, Iowa
Iowa, Iowa, I, Iowa

How I long to fall just a little bit
To dance out of the lines and stray from the light
But I fear that to fall in love with you
Is to fall from a great and gruesome height
So you know I asked a friend about it, on a bad day
Her husband had just left her, she sat down on the chair he’d left behind
She said, “What is love, where did it get me?
Whoever thought of love is no friend of mine”

Iowa, Iowa, I, Iowa
Iowa, Iowa, I, Iowa

Once I had everything, I gave it up
For the shoulder of your driveway and the words I’ve never felt
So for you, I came this far across the tracks
Ten miles above the limit, and with no seatbelt, and I’d do it again
For tonight I went running through the screen doors of discretion
For I woke up from a nightmare that I could not stand to see
You were a-wandering out on the hills of Iowa
And you were not thinking of me

Iowa, Iowa, I, Iowa
Iowa, Iowa, I, Iowa
Iowa, Iowa, I, Iowa
Iowa, Iowa, I, Iowa

I glanced behind me as I shut the screen door as quietly as I could. It was early still, the sun wasn’t even starting to show it’s colors yet and I couldn’t hear any sounds in the neighborhood except a couple of dogs stirring. But I needed to be careful, I didn’t want anyone to hear me. Throwing my bag in the front seat of the old car, I put the key in the ignitition and slid it into neutral. It was a struggle to get the car down the driveway and into the road, but I managed it without knocking over the mailbox or crushing any flowers. Once I was a couple of houses away, I thought it was safe to start up the car. It roared to life with the sound of a small tank.

But that was the sound of my freedom.

The first truck stop I came to became the final resting place for the house key and my engagement ring. I was never going back and I didn’t want anything tying me to that place. I was finally traveling my own path and I had a specific destination in mind.

I drove all day, barely stopping, too excited and yet terrified at what I was going to find. There had been conversations, notes, hints, but nothing definite and here I was putting it all on the line. By the time the sun was sinking again, the pale pinks and oranges staining the cornfields, I was turning onto the drive leading up to the old white farmhouse. It looked just as I had imagined it, weathered and well-tended and wonderful.

The ancient muffler announced my arrival before I even made it to the top of the drive and almost immediately a woman in jeans and a flannel shirt appeared on the front porch. I couldn’t take my eyes off her as I turned off the ignition and climbed out of the car in the blessed silence.

“Sadie?” she said, disbelief plain in her voice.

“It’s me. I’m here Amy. I did it. I left him, and I came here to you. Please tell me I made the right choice.”

She answered me by running down the steps and throwing herself into my arms. Wrapping myself around her, I could smell fresh apples and the Iowa air. I was finally home.

The links to the other bloggers’ stories are below:
Jess
Bronwyn

Wednesday Randomness – Mistakes from My First Manuscript

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This week’s Wednesday topic is mistakes from my first manuscript and how I’ve grown as a writer. Well, I’ve only ever made it through one full novel-length draft, so I guess this will be mistakes from my one and only manuscript. And boy did I make them. 

The first thing that comes to mind is using people’s names too much in conversation, kind of like I do when I’ve had a bit too much to drink. So it made it sound like a bunch of teenagers were constantly tipsy. “Gwen, let me tell something, let me tell you Gwen, I have something to tell you…” It wasn’t pretty.

And then of course there was the word repetition. There are only so many words for boardwalk and pier, and that leads to another mistake. One of the characters kept telling one of the other characters that he should do this one particular thing while he was in town, over and over again she kept bringing it up. Well, he finally did and it was completely anticlimactic. The whole thing was a waste of word count and had no point in the story. The town where the book takes place is real and I felt I had to work in all the known landmarks come hell or high water.  

I also, in a couple of circumstances, decided to cover important scenes in two sentence summaries and instead spend my word count on less important scenes that didn’t move the plot forward. They were still interesting, in my mind, but maybe not as integral to the plot points. 

There were countless other mistakes, but those are the big ones that come to mind. In the writing I’ve done since then, I’ve tried to keep these issues in mind so I can either avoid them as much as possible or at least make more conscious choices about them. I like to think I’ve improved since I finished that first manuscript, at least a bit. 

Check out the links below to see how the other bloggers have come along in their writing:
Jess
Bronwyn
Jessica
Gwen
Kris

Flash Fiction Monday

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10-2015 - WomaninWhite

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There she was, finally.

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He’d been hiding in the trees outside her house all day, waiting for her to return. She’d left in the morning, dressed all in white, perhaps for a party, looking beautiful as always. He hadn’t expected her to be gone so long, but still he’d waited.

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At least this time she was alone. Last time he’d stood here, he’d had to watch as that moronic boyfriend had pawed all over her, clumsy teenage hands and hormones everywhere has they said goodnight. It had taken all the willpower in the world to stay in his hiding place.

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One last picture as she slipped inside the back door.

He followed her progress through the empty house, watching lights turn on and off as she made her way upstairs. He knew she had the house to herself this weekend, her parents were out of town and like the good girl she was, she was home alone and would go to bed early.

He waited patiently for the second floor light at the front of the house to go out, the one he knew to be her bedroom. Once the house was quiet again, he left his hiding place behind the trees and made his way to the back door. Even in the dark, he found the hidden key without trouble and let himself into the house. Careful not to make a sound he bolted the door behind him and pocketed the key.

Making his way through the dark house, he was careful to avoid the hall table and the large vase that sat on the floor near the foot of the stairs. It wasn’t his first time in this house in the dark. He was careful to avoid the squeaky third step on his was to the second floor, his breath coming in quick gasps the closer he got to her bedroom.

He paused in the doorway, watching the way the moonlight fell across the bed making her dark hair glow. Her pale skin virtually shone in the light coming through the window, her breathing was deep and peaceful. It wouldn’t be for long.

Closing the door as silently as possible, he set his bag of tools at the foot of the bed before walking to stand next to her. He allowed himself one more minute of silence to watch her before making her aware of his presence. Finally, he decided it was time.

He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a black scarf, something he could use to tie her hands. But first he wanted to wake her up, she had to know he was there, what was coming for her. In one swift motion he pinned her wrists against the mattress with one large hand and covered her mouth with the other.

“Wake up, Elizabeth.” he whispered into her ear.

Her eyes flew open and stared at him in terror, in recognition. She tried to scream but it came out muffled.

“Shhhhhhh,” he whispered. “Don’t bother screaming. It won’t help.”

He stared down at her, reveling her in beauty as a single tear slid down her cheek. It wouldn’t be her last.

Check out the links below to see what stories the other bloggers came up with:

Bronwyn
Jess
Kellie
Jessica
Kris