Tag Archives: prompt

Response to C. J. Gorden’s KAPOW


Self-described struggling writer C. J. Gorden uses a “Kick Ass Prompt of the Week,” a.k.a. KAPOW, to help writers produce. On July 30, the KAPOW  was to write a first person piece in the voice of a child. My response is below.

Brat

by Fay Moore © 2012

See that girl standing under the tree? That’s my spoiled brat sister. Our housekeeper always says my sister’s the baby.

“You can’t expect her to do this or do that. She’s the baby.”

I get so sick of hearing it. If my sister takes my softball and leaves it in the rain, I’m not supposed to get mad at her because she’s the baby. If she comes in my room without permission, I’m supposed to be happy about it because she’s the baby. If she follows me and my friends to the ball field, I’m supposed to watch over her because she’s the baby.

Baby, schmaby. She’s a brat. Why can’t she play with that curly-haired girl next door? Why is she always following me around? She always wants to go where I go. Me and my friends don’t want her following us.

If she’s along, we can’t sneak up on my teacher Miss Marple’s house and peek at Miss Marple in her bathing suit. The wood fence around her swimming pool has four knot holes close together that are just the right height for us boys to press our eyeballs to and watch Miss Marple rub suntan oil on her legs and stuff. Miss Marple can’t see me, but I can sure see her. If that brat sister of mine is along, I can’t sneak a peek because she would tell on me, sure enough. Mom would ground me for a week.

And I can’t throw eggs at cars either. Or rub limburger cheese on door knobs. Man, that’s fun.

We boys rub limburger on old Mrs. Lender’s door knob. We know she gets home from work around four o’clock, so we hide in the tree fort across the street and wait. You should’ve seen her face the first time we did it. When her hand hit that slimy stuff, she jerked back like she was snake bit. Then she put her fingers to her nose and smelled them. Whew. Her expression was priceless. No way we could get away with cheesing anybody with my sister around.

Dad would take me by the shirt and walk me over to Mrs. Lender and make me apologize. Then he’d make me clean her door knob and wash down the door. Next I’d get stuck cutting her grass for a month, for free.

And it would all be because of my stupid sister. Yeah, she’s a brat.

C.J. Gorden’s blog can be found here: http://cjgorden.wordpress.com/2012/07/30/mondays-kick-ass-prompt-of-the-week-kapow-7/#comment-101

When Words Won’t Come


For two days I have wrestled with a story from the song prompt “Lightning Crashes”. I don’t want to wimp out in my writing when confronting that which is raw and primal. Nor do I want to go down the path of describing a scene of evil, which is the image my mind keeps presenting.

I have told my brain, “No. Find something else.”

So I sit here, figuratively with pen in hand, with nothing to write.

Music as Muse


First, this blog writer never assumes that what is espoused here is the be all, end all for all people. On the contrary, I espouse what works for me–for the moment, when I am in the mood and not being lazy.

That said, I thought I’d share how my muse works to spin a tale from music. I use YouTube links for songs because:

  •  it’s easy to access for everyone
  •  it’s easy to replay the songs over and over
  • lyrics are provided
  •  the YouTube channel deals with the copyright issues

I listen to a song three or four times in a row. The first couple of times through I read the lyrics as the song plays. Inspiration can come from either tune or lyrics.

If I know the song, I sing, too. The point is to turn off the conscious part of my brain  and turn on the subconscious part. I integrate as many senses (hearing, feeling, speaking, dancing) while listening as I can. The more visceral the music experience becomes, the more likely I am to get images in my head.

(This ritual beats soaking my bare feet in a tub of fresh chicken blood under the desk; I read one famous author does that when writing.)

Then the writing starts. More than half the time I get halfway through the story and hit a wall about a conclusion. I repeat the listening ritual, and the end comes. I write it.

As I’ve said innumerable times, I have an active imagination. In my subconscious mind, stories are everywhere, under every leaf, around every door jamb, behind every melody. In any given day, a complete novel floats through my head. The problem is my memory doesn’t hold a candle to my imagination. So in the time it takes me to say, “that’s a cool story,” it’s gone for good.

Oh, well. I guess I can’t have everything.

Right now I am enjoying writing short shorts because I can capture them on paper before the music drifts away.

Prompt–Lightning Crashes


The next prompt song is “Lightning Crashes” by Live. Click link below to hear the song. Lyrics provided.

Care to share the inspiration that hits you?

I think this one is going to be a toughie for me. The song’s emotions are raw and primal. Can I capture that and do it justice? We’ll see.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ke-r2K0ymWc

Response to Song Prompt “The Good Life”


I picked the song prompt “The Good Life” by Three Days Grace a couple of weeks ago and scheduled the post for the future. Afterward, I heard about a man who was traveling through Cumberland, Maryland, on whose true tale this short story is based. The person who told me about him is the cook character in the piece.

It is amazing how well this story fits the sentiment of the prompt song.  It was serendipitous I was told about this story just as the prompt song posted.

Enjoy!

The Good Life

by Fay Moore © 2012

The stranger sidled up to the lunch counter and took a seat.

The cook, who also served as waiter at the rescue mission, didn’t recognize the man as having been there before. No matter. More and more, the faces were new, coming in for a meal or two before disappearing, not to be seen again. Yet something about this man piqued the cook’s curiosity.

Would you like a bowl of soup?” the cook asked.

Yes. Thank you,” said the stranger.

He dropped his knapsack on the floor beside the counter stool, took a seat, then swiveled around to survey the room. A half-dozen wizened-faced men peppered the room, sitting at tables in dark corners. Like fly specks on an otherwise clean kitchen counter top, they were an uncomfortable reminder that something unlikable was present in this city.

I don’t think I’ve seen you here before,” remarked the cook.

No. I’m only here for a day or two.”

Where are you staying?”

At the hobo camp by the railroad yard.” The man showed no embarrassment or shame.

Hobo. Until recently, it was an archaic word that conjured the depression era men who traveled with a bindle, riding in box cars, looking for the next place that promised a chance at a job.

Hobo. Here at the mission, modern hobos arrived daily, attracted to the hobo camp near the railroad hub, where trains converged  for a re-shuffling of the cars into new configurations based on each car’s destination. Men traveling from southern or eastern cities came here to catch a western- or northern-bound train. And vice versa, depending on the season or the work available. Some were disheveled from countless days between using a bath or laundry facility.

The cook noticed this stranger was clean and cleanly dressed.

Hobo. A lifestyle of survival and of necessity exacerbated by bad economic times. Unlike bums, hobos traveled looking for work. A job yielded a good life. Modern hobos might or might not be penniless. The common characteristic hobos shared was using the railroads to travel – for free.

Are you riding the train?” the cook asked.

Hope to. I’m heading for Canada.”

Why Canada?”

For vacation,” came the reply.

You’re kidding me,” the cook gasped.

No. I guess I should explain. I used to be a hobo, always traveling from place to place by rail, trying to find work. Finally, I was lucky and landed a good job. Someone took me under his wing to guide me. I went to law school. Now I am a lawyer. But every year, I take a vacation and ride the rails. For old time’s sake, I guess.”

The cook looked incredulous.

It’s true. I have a hand written book given to me by an old man a long time ago that outlines every rail line, every yard, where the junctions are to change course, which yards to avoid because the bulls are mean sons of bitches. That kind of stuff. He collected it all by writing it down. Before he died, he gave it to me.”

Have you ever been thrown off a train by a bull?” The cook was wide-eyed.

Yes. It’s worse in the deep south. I got roughed up down there and taken to jail. But I paid my fine, and I went on my way.”

The cook shook his head. The man finished his soup and slapped a twenty dollar bill on the counter.

The lunch is free,” said the cook. “The boss says to feed whoever walks through the door.”

I know. This is a donation. It’s what I do now that I can. When I eat, I pay for myself,” he said, panning his arm across the room, “and for my friends. Thanks for being here to feed us. There was a time that without soup kitchens like this one, I would not have had a meal for days while I hunted work. It’s my way to give back.”

The stranger picked up his backpack, shouldered it, and walked out through the same door he entered earlier, without looking back. In his head, he thought about the cook. He thought each of them had found a little of the good life.

Short Story Book Project Starting Now


Sorry.

That apology is for the persons who hated the song prompts in July. I’d planned to use song prompts for one month just to see what happened for me as a writer. I had such fun and created such a diverse collection of stories from the July song prompts, that I decided to continue song prompts into the coming months until I have a collection of 100 shorties. Then I am going to e-publish the collection.

That said, here’s the first song prompt for August–“The Good Life” by Three Days Grace. Lyrics can be found at the link.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yMtslWhcGY

What I have discovered is that using a diversity of songs as prompts inspires a diversity of stories. What an eclectic collection July’s prompts inspired!

My next trick will be to try using music to prompt me when I get stuck while writing on the novel. If it works, I will be so excited.

 

Last Song Prompt for July


This is the perfect summer song, so I’ll end my series of prompts based on songs with “Kokomo” by The Beach Boys. Listen here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHtQ4-WBkis

I got a titillating  image in my head when listening to the song. Now I have to get the image translated to words on paper and published here. Soon.

An Enchanted Forest Ride


For those who are curious about what one does with a classical song prompt, you aren’t alone. I was curious, too. I was surprised where my imagination took me. I think I was as much influenced by the name of the Geminiani piece–La Foresta Incantata–as the music itself.

The genre of the story is a departure from anything I have written before. Is it a dream? You decide.  So here goes:

An Enchanted Forest Ride

by Fay Moore © 2012

“I’ll be back for dinner,” the master called out to his manservant, as he rode his horse across the courtyard cobblestones, heading for open field. The master saw the servant’s reflection in the rippled glass of the manor house window, in his hand the ledger that he had been reviewing with the master for several hours. The reflection looked like a man dressed in a floating sheet.

From atop his horse, the master admired the finely chiseled ears on the head of his prize stallion; ears forward, the horse attended to the direction the lord of the manor was steering him. The woods loomed ahead. As the master recalled his steward’s ghostly specter in the window reflection, his neck hairs tingled.

The owner of the equine settled deep into the curve of the leather seat, relaxing his back, pelvis and legs to float upon the saddle in tune with the motion and gait of his mount.  The tension that built up through the hours spent in accounting flowed down through his loosened frame and out the bottom of his stirrup-cradled soles, where breezes carried the bad energy off into space.

The day was magical. A cold front pushed all heat and humidity from the air. Neither man nor horse perspired as the sun beat upon their backs. Zephyrs blew both creatures’ hair, lifting and dropping tresses in waves, the same way ribbons flutter from the end of a lance.

Sensing the tempo playing in the air, man and horse began to move in union with it in a slow, deliberate canter. The rhythmical rocking of the rider crescendoed with the hoof beats of the stallion. By the time the pair entered the cutaway into the forest, they were galloping.

Once inside the shade of the forest canopy, the duo felt the air temperature drop. The freshness of the air and of the horse’s spirit urged the animal faster into a dead run. Birds flushed in droves from the bushes, but the pair ignored the feathered bursts. Dirt clods flew into the air, flung aloft by pounding hooves. The man loosened the reins to give the horse its head. Ahead in the path, a small tree was down. Horse and rider sailed effortlessly over the log in one motion, a union of body and spirit. Off to the left, a herd of deer, thrashing through the understory, scattered like a burst of fireworks. The horse dashed on.

 Ahead the lord spied a shaded opening in the trees. He felt drawn toward the space. He slowed the horse to a walk, patting the animal’s powerful neck. The exhilaration of the run caused both man and horse to breathe deeply.

In the opening, the master dismounted. The air glittered, amazing the man. He rubbed his eyes. The horse yawned. Their breath took shape and sparkled in clouds before them. Overtaken with a sudden urge to sleep, the horse folded its legs beneath itself and dropped to the soft, cool earth. It stretched out its neck and rested its jaw bone on a mound of grass. The man followed suit, sitting on the ground and leaning back against the prostrate animal. As if cast under a spell, both were soon snoozing.

Out of fallen hollowed logs and half-standing snags at the edge of the opening, or descending by spider-silk from leafy bowers in the treetops, a troupe of ragtag phantoms and sprites appeared. A shade stood by the head of the horse and a shadow by the head of the man, each casting dream dust when the sleepers’ eyelids fluttered. The others poured over the prone bodies, emptying the man’s pockets of two gold coins and gleaning half-chewed corn from between the horse’s teeth. Six tiny hands grabbed a loose thread in the man’s woven vest and pulled, unwinding the wool. A team of specters wound the thread into skeins and whisked the rolls away. When their work was done, an apparition looking like a fairy waved a wand above the sleeping pair. The magical troupe disappeared in a flash.

The sun was falling fast toward the horizon, and shadows were growing long. The gentleman was confounded that he had slept. What earlier seemed an enchanted space, now grew chilled. He leaped to his feet as the horse surged up from the ground. Wasting no time, he hoisted his toe into the stirrup and pulled himself up into the saddle.  Reins in hand, he spun the horse on its heels and spurred the steed. Shaking off its supernatural drowsiness, the animal plunged through the woodlands, racing for its barn.

Feeling cold, the horseman glanced down and spied his  vest was missing. Only a wisp or two of the distinctive yarns remained, caught in his belt buckle. As the dusk deepened, there was no time to sound the depths of his confusion. He bent at the waist, tucked himself as close to the body and neck of the horse as he could, and rode for the manor as if ghosts were chasing him.

Pink


Inspired by Aerosmith’s song Pink, here’s my short story:

Pink

 

by Fay Moore © 2012

Elise tucks her pre-schooler into bed. Elise has read a dozen bedtime stories, at least twice, to Morgana before the four-year-old surrenders to sleep. A glance at the wall clock alerts Elise that Morgana is asleep early. It is 7:00 PM on a Friday night.

The television is on downstairs in the living room where Brent, Elise’s husband, is watching the evening news. He’s home early.

It’s rare to have a whole evening with her spouse, Elise thinks.

Brent is a regional sales rep for agricultural products, so he seldom gets home before ten at night. Elise and Morgana are normally asleep. To keep from waking his girls, Brent often crashes in his recliner in front of the TV, sleeping in his clothes. He is a good provider who works the extra hours, so Elise can be a stay-at-home mom.

Elise slips into her bedroom.

She is grateful to her husband for all he does for the family. Tonight she wants to show him how she feels and give him a pleasant surprise.

On her nightstand, there is a bottle of insta-dry fingernail polish in her favorite color: pink. She quickly touches up any chips on her nails.  In her dresser, she finds a satin pink teddy that Brent gave her on their last anniversary. She has never worn it. She slips it on. It has a matching thong. She wiggles into it and snaps the waistband high on her hips. She remembers sandals buried in the bottom of the closet. She bought them for their honeymoon because they made her feel naughty and kittenish. The shoes have a spike heel, open backs and a band of pink fluffy feathers that cross the top of her toes. She recalls the snickers about her “madam” shoes she and Brent shared on their first night together. She wonders if he will remember. Next, she opens her jewelry box and extracts a pair of gigantic pink plastic flamingo clip-on earrings. She spots a pink sequined eye mask. Both items are leftover pieces from old, elaborate Halloween costumes. Finally, she pins her hair up. She has a pink felt fedora with a rhinestone hatband that she perches on her head.

She descends the carpeted stairs quietly and sneaks up behind her husband. She places her hands over his eyes and coos.

Guess who.”

He pulls her fingers to his lips and kisses them, before gently pulling her out from behind him and into full view. Stunned, he says nothing for a second. She chuckles.

I don’t know whether to spank it, cage it or kiss it,” he says.

What do you think?” she asks, in a feigned coy voice.

Searching for a safe response, he says, “It’s pink.”

She collapses into his lap, giggling.