Category Archives: Kris Norris

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

 

 

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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09-2015 - KeyInHand

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.

Katherine,
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:

Bronwyn
Jessica
Kellie
Paige
Kris

Flash Fiction Mondays

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07-2015 - BarefootInField

I stared at the printouts on the table in front of me. Each one was dated June seventh for the last five years and detailed similar deaths of different men. All were found in hiking clothes in the same stretch of land, and all had no apparent signs of trauma. But they were all estimated to have died the day before, on June sixth, and they were all my fault.

Have you heard of a Woman in White? I hadn’t in either, not until a couple of years of ago, not until I realized that I had created one. A Woman in White is considered folklore, just a story told that no one actually believes, something that’s fun to scare yourself with around the campfire.

A few years ago, back before all this started, I had a fiancee named Penny. I loved her, I was going to marry her after all. But I was stupid, like so many people are. I strayed, I cheated on her. I had a relationship with another woman that lasted about six months and Penny found out. She apparently knew for awhile but decided to wait to confront me about it until we were alone, with no hope of anyone interrupting us. She had a plan, you see.

I didn’t deny anything, she knew the truth and trying to convince her otherwise would have been pointless. Plus, I was done with all the lying. Penny told me she just needed to be alone for awhile so she could decide what she wanted to do, about us, I guess. I left her there, in that field. Like she asked. I told her I would come back later to pick her up, there was nothing close by she couldn’t walk to anywhere from there. When I went back a couple of hours later, I found her hanging from a branch in a tree. She had apparently hidden a rope there earlier in the day, knowing all along what she was going to do.

At the moment she had died, I created a Woman in White; a jilted woman who takes her own life doomed to remain as a ghost taking vengeance on unfaithful men.

And every year, on the anniversary of her death, Penny killed one man in the same spot. They were far enough apart and that spot was frequented enough that no one seemed to catch on, except me. But this year would be the last. I was going to stop her, one way or another. This was my fault and I couldn’t let her hurt anyone else.

I wasn’t sure when she normally appeared, but I’d wait all day if I had to. I gathered up my supplies and left my truck in the same spot where all the other victims’ vehicles were found. I was going to do everything they did, leaving nothing to chance. I started at the head of the trail and hiked into the forest, knowing eventually I would end up in the field where Penny and I fought, and where she died.

The trip took the better part of the day, but I welcomed the exercise. I used the time to go over, again, what I would say to Penny to when I saw her. How I would apologize, how I would tell her that killing these other people didn’t set right what I had done and couldn’t she see that? I had to make her see that. She wasn’t this person, or hadn’t been in life. I didn’t know what she was anymore, I guess.

Once I reached the field, I sat down under the tree where she had died and noticed that someone had carved her name into the trunk, as a memorial I assumed. I waited for Penny to appear, thinking I probably wouldn’t have to wait long. I fit her criteria and I had to be her ideal victim, I just hoped I could get her to listen to me before she did anything too permanent.

As afternoon turned into evening, I was starting to lose confidence. I saw no sign of her, felt no chill in the air. I had read that was a sure sign that a ghost was near. I refused to give up though, I would wait all night if I had to. I must have fallen asleep at one point, I woke up suddenly when a branch from above broke off with a loud crack and landed on my ankle. Crying out in surprise and pain, it was then I noticed that the temperature had finally dropped.

And there, in front of me, was Penny. She looked just as she had on the say she died, same long dark hair and white sundress. But her eyes, they were black and angry. Her mouth opened and she screamed at me, but no sound came out. And in that instant, she was no longer my Penny but a vengeful demon. I didn’t know if reasoning with her would work, but I had to try. I pulled myself to my feet.

“Penny, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry about what I did to you, that I cheated on you. That I treated you like that. But what you’re doing now, it’s not right. These other guys haven’t hurt you, they haven’t done anything to you. You shouldn’t be killing them.”

Those black eyes just stared at me, I couldn’t tell if she even understood anything I was saying to her. There was no change in her expression, just a further drop in the temperature around me.

“What can I do so that you’ll stop? Is there anything I can do to help you move on from this, whatever this existence is?”

At that, the expression on her face changed. She broke into a horrifying grin and the temperature dropped yet again.

Oh god, I knew what she wanted. “Is that what it will take? If you kill me, will I be your last victim? Is that what you’ve been waiting on this whole time, for me to show up?”

Slowly, she nodded.

“And if i die, you’ll leave this place?”

She nodded again.

I didn’t even have a chance to tell her to do it. I felt a cold hand reach inside my chest and wrap around my heart, squeezing it until I thought it would burst. I started to black out from the lack of oxygen but the last thing i saw before I died was Penny, my Penny, brown eyes and all walking off down a path in the early evening light.

So, you wanted to know how I ended up a lonely ghost wandering this stretch of the woods? That’s my story. In order to move on, you have to complete your unfinished business. Penny was my unfinished business, but she’s already gone, so I don’t have anything to finish. I’m destined to wander here for eternity, unless you think you can help me somehow?

Check out the links below to the read the other stories this week:

Jess
Jessica
Paige
Bronwyn
Kris
Gwen
Kellie

Wednesday Randomness – A Few of My Favorite Things: Music (Artists/Groups)

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This week’s blog post is another favorite things topic, this time focusing on music.

I listen to music constantly, while I’m working, writing, driving, reading, cleaning, doing anything really. It helps me focus, in a way. Like there’s a part of my brain that wanders but if I have music playing, that part of my brain has something to focus on. And since music plays such a large part in my day, what I listen to is pretty important.

My husband would say I’m stuck in the 90’s. I might agree with that, to an extent. I do like a certain amount of music from that era, but who doesn’t like to listen to what they did in high school? So yes, I totally still have Toad the Wet Sprocket, Counting Crows, and Better Than Ezra in constant rotation. I even saw TTWS and Counting Crows in concert last summer and my little Doc Marten wearing heart soared. Here’s a big throwback to the 90’s…the original Mr. Jones video. Oh my god, I feel so old right now.

I love U2. I know a lot of people don’t like Bono, but I don’t care. I love their music. I gravitate towards the Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby albums, but I also really love All That You Can’t Leave Behind. Thought I’d throw in a little 80’s U2 for your viewing pleasure, I still love this video.

What else? I’ve always loved “oldies,” Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons is one of my favorites. I’ve been listening to Simon and Garfunkel since I was in the womb.

I know there are so many more I’m missing, but this gives you a taste of my favorite music. I listen to a wider variety than is represented here, but I definitely lean towards a certain type as my “core” music, I guess.

Check out the links below to see who the other ladies are listening to:
Jess
Bronwyn
Gwen
Jessica
Kris

Wednesday Randomness – Favorite Quotes

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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.”

“Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.”
“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
Moving away from one person in particular, these are some of my favorite quotes on books and writing…
Writing is hard
“Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks.”  – Dr. Seuss
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway
“Make good art.” – Neil Gaiman
“Art harder motherfucker.” – Chuck Wendig
“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” – Douglas Adams
“If you don’t see the book you want on the shelf, write it.” – Beverly Cleary
And finally, some random awesome quotes…
“Quiet people have the loudest minds.” – Stephen King
“Do not confuse my bad days as a sign of weakness. Those are actually the days I am fighting the hardest.” Anonymous
“What is right is not always popular, and what is popular is not always right.” – Albert Einstein
Check out the Wednesday bloggers for their favorite quotes:

Flash Fiction

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Flash Fiction

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06-2015 - PaperHeart

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:

Jessica
Jess
Bronwyn
Kris
Kellie

Flash Fiction Mondays

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05-2015 - StreetLampBlueDoor

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.

Open them.

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.

Check out the stories from the other bloggers:

Jess
Bronwyn
Kris
Kellie
Jessica
Gwen