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Writing pet peeves is the topic for this week. What annoys us? What makes us want to tear our hair out?
Where do I start?
There are so many things, big and small.
This is a weirdly specific one, but I absolutely hate it when people use the phrase, “It’s like deja vu all over again.” That phrase just doesn’t even make sense to me. What is the point of it?
Difficult to pronounce names for places, or people. There’s a series I really like and in it is a prep school with a name that I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to pronounce. I stumble over it in my head every time I come across it and it instantly pulls me out of the story. Someone has even told me how to say it a couple of times and I still can’t get it right. I get wanting to use things that are unique and different, but you can do that and still make them something that a reader can pronounce.
I have another pet peeves with names, certain names in general just annoy the ever-living hell out of me. As soon as I see them, I just want to stop reading. Names like Cash, or Tristan. For some reason, all bad boys are named Tristan. And on the subject of bad boys, why do authors (often YA) always put bad boys in black jeans? I don’t ever actually see anyone in real life wearing black jeans, but in books, all the bad boys wear them. I’m sure they all shop at the only store that sells them, too.
“There are simply too many notes!” In other words, trying to stuff everything imaginable into one story. Let’s put in werewolves, vampires, witches, ghosts, psychics, and time travel all into one book! There is such a thing as too many elements in one story.
Insta-love. I know sometimes it’s the norm for certain genres, but unless it’s done REALLY well, just no.
And on the subject of love, love triangles. Are they ever necessary? There are so many more interesting ways to create conflict, either within the romance or not.
I could go on and on, but I think those are the important ones.
What pet peeves do the other bloggers have? Click the links below to find out:
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?”
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:
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There was also a dog wearing a knight.
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.
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.
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…
Check out the other blogs to see what good times everyone had in 2015:
There she was, finally.
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.
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.
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:
Believe it or not, I actually completed both blog topics this week. Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years!
This week’s Wednesday topic is A-Z Recipes, either ones we love to make or want to try making. I had to make up or alter names for a few of them so they would fit certain letters, but I made it work! I didn’t include the recipes or link to them because most of them or either in books or in my head, but if you’re interested in one, let me know and I can write it out in the comments.
A – Asparagus and Broccoli Chicken Stir Fry (totally takes the place of wanting to order Chinese take-out)
B – Basil Pesto Pasta with Roasted Vegetables
C – Chicken Fricassee (one of the first “real recipes” I ever tried cooking)
D – Dad’s Chili (I’m very picky about chili, not too tomato-y, although I do make a few changes from his recipe)
E – Edamame Chicken Pot Pie (it’s just Chicken Pot Pie with Edamame in it, but I really like it and it worked for “E”)
F – Fried Chicken (never made it but my Southern roots make me feel like I should try it)
G – Goat Cheese and Red Pepper Panini
H – Homemade Double Chocolate Fudge Brownies (these are beyond sinful, I usually only make these at Christmas because they are kind of labor intensive and have ridiculous amounts of butter in them)
I – Invisible Parrot (2 parts Sprite or 7UP with 1 part Malibu Rum and a slice of lime – delicious)
J – Jones’ Family Famous Homemade Spaghetti Sauce (actually my husband’s recipe)
K – Kayleigh’s Signature Chocolate and Butterscotch Chip Cookies
L – Lasagna (I love my mom’s lasagna recipe, I’m not big on sauce on hers is not saucy at all)
M – My Grandpa’s Parmesan Chicken (it could be in any Italian restaurant it’s that good, if he would just give me the recipe)
N – Not Your Mom’s Chinese Spaghetti and Meatballs (it involves ground chicken meatballs with Chinese Five Spice, pea pods, and sesame oil on the noodles)
O – Orange Tempeh Vegetable Stir Fry
P – Pesto Pasta with Italian Chicken Sausage
Q – Quiche (never made one, only had it for the first time this summer but I really liked it)
R – Redskin Garlic Mashed potatoes (simple but I love them)
S – Skinny Burrito Bowl (so good!)
T – Thanksgiving Squash Casserole (it’s really just a squash casserole, but I only make it on Thanksgiving)
U – Utterly Delicious Apple Pie Rolls (I just saw these on Pinterest, you use Crescent rolls and put a slice of apple in each one along with spices and nuts, then roll them up and bake them; I can’t wait to try them this fall)
V – Vegetarian Lasagna Rolls
W – Walnut Oatmeal Banana Bread
X – Xasperating Pumpkin Roll Cake (it’s so good but very tricky, again a Thanksgiving only recipe)
Y – Yummy Summer Apple Salad (apple, pineapple, butterscotch pudding mix, and whip cream; very easy and tastes like caramel apples)
Z – Zucchini Taco Boats
Check out the links below to see what the other bloggers love to make (or want to try making):
I sat on the floor, turning the key over in my fingers, staring at the box where it sat on the small table. it was a wooden box, about twelve inches square and covered in Celtic-looking carvings. It stared at me just like it had for the first thirty years of my life, locked, its secrets unyielding.
Not two hours ago, I had answered a knock on the door to find my grandfather’s lawyer standing there with an envelope. Apparently, this key had been part of what I had received from grandfather’s will, but it had taken awhile for anyone to find it. He’d been gone three months and the key had only now shown up.
So there I sat, turning the key over and staring, almost scared to open the box and finally find out what was in it, my family inheritance, or family legacy, I suppose. The wooden box had been packed on the day I was born and locked, to be opened only when my legal guardian died. Or that’s what the letter enclosed with the key had said. Up until then, I had always been told the box had belonged to my grandmother and the key was long lost. I just kept it around because the carvings were beautiful and I liked having something of hers.
Well, I couldn’t put it off anymore. Grabbing the box, I pulled it off the table and settled it on my lap. I traced my finger over the carvings just like I had as a little girl, marveling at the smoothness of the wood. I inserted the brass key into the lock and turned it. I was expecting some resistance given how long it had been since the box had been opened, but the lock clicked smoothly. Letting out a breath I hadn’t realized I was holding, I slowly lifted the lid of the box, no idea what to expect.
Gasping, I threw one hand over my eyes as a bright purple light shot out of the box. The lid fell all the way open and I felt a tingling sensation start at the tips of my fingers and toes. The feeling worked its way through my limbs and slowly coalesced around my heart before dissipating.
It was astonishing, the sense of lightness and utter completeness I suddenly felt. It was like a part of me had clicked into place after being out of sync for my whole life.
With the light gone, I could now see the actual contents of the box; a note and a leather bound book. I opened the note and smiled when I saw the familiar scrawl that belonged to my grandfather.
I know this will be a shock, and I’m sorry I’m not there to help you through this.
Unfortunately, this how it’s done in our family. One witch active at a time, so upon
my death, you’ll get your powers. If you’re reading this it means I’m gone and I miss
you very much. This book will tell you most of what you need to know, the history
and many basic spells. This key also opens a trunk in the cellar of my house where
you will find more books. It’s up to you to carry on the family traditions and prepare
to pass them down to your descendants.
Learn them well.
Well hell, I thought, I was witch.
Check out the links below to see the other bloggers’ stories:
This week’s random Wednesday topic is favorite quotes, I’ve chosen a few quotes on books, writing, and life in general.
Love him or hate him, Steve Jobs had some amazing quotes, these are three of my favorites:
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
Boxes surrounded me as I sat in the middle of the office, trying to decide what to keep and what to get rid of. The handmade floor to ceiling bookcases that I once loved now loomed over me, wondering why I did this alone. I had saved this room for last because I knew it would be the hardest and i wasn’t wrong. We had spent countless hours in here together. The deep brown leather chair by the fireplace still smelled like him, cologne and woodsmoke. I had been sleeping in it every night since I’d been back in the house, or as close to sleeping as I could get, just so I could pretend he was still here.
Looking around I decided to start with the photographs. Frames were scattered around the shelves, showing us in better times; camping, skiing, riding a tandem bike on Macknac Island. And my favorite picture of the two of us, standing side by side, arms around each others’ waists with Lake Superior shining crystal blue in the background. I lost myself staring at the way the sun glinted off his black curls, finally coming back to reality when I noticed the tears blurring the picture. With a sigh, I wiped the glass off and wrapped it in bubble wrap, packing it up with the rest of the photos.
Finally, that left just the books. I wasn’t going to have as much room in my new place, so a lot of them were going to have to go. I was tempted to get rid of most of mine so I could keep his. Anything to keep a piece of him with me. After a few hours of sorting, and a few too many glasses of wine, I was down to his pride a joy. It was a collection of first edition Ernest Hemingway novels, it had taken him forever to find them all and he had been so proud. I pulled down The Sun Also Rises, his favorite, and ran my fingers over the spine. When I opened the front cover, a piece of paper fell out. I recognized it immediately. It was a heart shaped, yellowed piece of paper burned around the edges. I had found it in an old diary in an antique shop on a trip out East and it had turned out to be a love letter the diary owner had kept. Now, it looked as though writing had been added to the back side of it that had once been blank.
My darling girl,
I know its not going to be long now. I want nothing more than to grow old
with you and retire by the lake like we always talked about.
I want to watch a thousand more sunrises and sunsets with you.
I don’t know what’s beyond this life, but I know that wherever I
end up I will miss you every moment. And know that I want you to be happy in life.
I want you to find love and to have purpose. Most importantly, I want you to remember
that I love you more than anything.
I always have.
And with that the floodgates opened. I sobbed wine fueled, grief induced tears until I finally fell asleep on the floor.
“Ma’am.” I felt someone shaking my arm. “Ma’am? I’m sorry, are you ok?”
Blinking in the bright morning light, I saw two men standing over me. “Who are you?” I wasn’t as alarmed as I probably should have been.
“We’re the movers. I was told you would be expecting us.”
They both looked extremely uncomfortable at finding me passed out on the floor. I couldn’t blame them. “No,” I said. “I am, sorry. Rough night.” I peeled myself up into a sitting position. “Please go ahead and get started, I just need to gather up a few things.”
The movers left to go start on another part of the house. I looked around the room one more time, making sure all the windows were closed. Standing up, I put the heart shaped note back in the front cover of the book and clutched it to my chest, standing still in the middle of the room.
“I love you, too,” I whispered. “Always.” Just as I started to walk away, a small breeze ruffled the hair on the back of my neck, just where he used to kiss me.
Check out the links below to read the other stories for Flash Fiction Monday:
Glancing behind me to make sure I hadn’t been followed, i walked up to the building. It was just as it had been described, blue doors covered in vines illuminated by a lamppost. Taking a deep breath to steady myself, I raised my hand and knocked three times, waited and knocked twice, as instructed.
I heard footsteps from within and the doors opened soundlessly to reveal a slight, elderly man. He looked frail but the power radiating off him made me take a step back. He said nothing but waited for an answer to a question.
“I come seeking knowledge and guidance,” I said.
The old man looked me up and down once and turned to walk back down the hallway leading into the dark interior. I assumed I was supposed to follow. As I stepped over the threshold, the doors closed behind me.
Without turning around, the old man said, “Be careful what you ask for, Billie.”
We continued down the darkened hallway, longer than seemed possible for the size of the old building. Eventually we stopped in front of another set of doors, these were heavy oak, carved with strange symbols I didn’t recognize.
I started violently. The voice had been crystal clear, but no one had spoken, out loud anyway.
Open the doors child, you know you can.
Glancing behind me I realized the old man was gone and I was alone in the hallway. Slowly I took a couple of steps toward the doors, noting the way the air seemed to thicken the closer I got. But once I was within a foot of the door, it was like I hit an invisible wall. I knew what was wanted of me but I rebelled. Why, I didn’t know. This is what I had come here for.
After a brief internal struggle, I closed my eyes and brought up an image of the oak doors in my mind. I pictured the ornate, wrought iron handles and the carved symbols. I reached out with my mind and I pushed. The doors swung open to reveal a group of people standing in a circle, candles floating in the air casting eerie shadows about the room.
I was finally here, with the Order of the Light. This was my birthright, I was home.
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