Friday, April 28, 2017

#8 - "Soft Pipes, Play on"

"'I am thinking, young man, about the final sentence for The Books of Bokonon. The time for the final sentence has come.'" - Cat's Cradle, K. Vonnegut.

Rory has posted her last blog. You should write your last one in reference to hers. Good-bye, Rory, you will be missed...

Monday, April 17, 2017

Post #7 - Moonlight Sonata - Due Thursday, April 20th

"Don't tell me the moon is shinning; show me the glint of light on broken glass." -- Antone Chekov

After the horrendous storm, the neighborhood makes an effort to clean-up things. Everyone tries to pitch-in, some more successfully than others.

As sunset approaches, a small festival with a few rides and some folk music gather in the park. A small stage is set-up on the basketball court.  There is the smell of fresh baked goods wafting around.

As the sun goes down, an outdoor movie screen is raised and  "The Little Mermaid" is the feature.  Everyone seems happy about that.

Since the evening is so pleasant, people are reluctant to leave and return indoors.  There's an announcement at the end of the movie that at 2AM there will be a lunar eclipse.  The moon will be full. People are excited.

Later, as the moon reappears and people make their way home, some notice that St. Cecilia's church is completely gone, leaving in its place one, single pew.

(The story is nearing the end, so plan accordingly.  Your character may meet his/her prepared.)

Friday, March 3, 2017

Post #6 - The God of Small Things - due March 8th

"Things can change in a day." -- Arundhati Roy

The details make the story interesting and develop your character, but every detail is necessary.  Include only the things that are necessary to keep the development going.  

There should be a transformation.  Big, like 180 transformation.  You will probably have two more blogs until the last one. 

Must haves:

Thunder and lightening and rain all day and night. You could be in it, watching it, see a tree set on fire, or something--make it useful and interesting. 

Go eat somewhere, get take-out, or cook a meal at home and use it in the development of your character. 

Include one of the following:

1) a labyrinth
2) a song or it's lyrics, a line
3) a line(s) from a book

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Post #5 - It was a Thursday (Due Monday, Jan. 23rd)

Choose only one of the following, maybe two. Use the post to develop your story and most importantly your character.

It was a crisp Thursday morning and there was Pope Michael wheeling around his homemade confession shack trying to get patrons. The man stood at a tall 6’2. He had a slight slouch to him, the same an old man would have. His shed of brown cedarwood creaked and made a rickety sound as it was being pushed down the street. Pope Michael cautiously holds onto his portable confessional as his cream silk choir dress blows in the wind. His gold cross necklace jingles as he solemnly walks down the poorly paved street. His ice cold blue eyes light up as he sees someone further down the street. The smokiness of his right eye seems to clear up as he quickens his pace. Wrapped around the base of his palm, a rusted choir bell hung peacefully, waiting to attract attention. Further down the street, Pope Michael realizes the man down the street is Phillip Hornbuckle, visiting his sister’s grave. As the shack’s wheels screech down the street, Pope Michael invites Philip to join in his confessional.

Down the rainbow river sits the Crayola crayon factory. The river is thick with crayon dust. A multitude of colors swirl in its eddies and currents. Burnt sienna, radical red, purple mountain’s majesty, robin egg blue, macaroni and cheese yellow, and atomic tangerine, the gaudy shades of Crayola crayons tinge the waters. Beneath the surface lives an ecosystem of plants, animals, and a newly evolved taxonomic Kingdom that have adapted to survive on the wax. During heavy rains the rainbow river overflows and the wax seeps into the soil on the banks. The interactions between the crayon wax and the plants have led to strange mutations. Among these include a macaroni and cheese bush and a radioactive tangerine plant. Some of these new mutant plants have not been investigated yet and are waiting to be discovered by one of the residents of the town. Boaz Johnson goes down to the river every day to fish for rainbow trout. The fish taste a little strange but he doesn’t mind. There is a run-down shack that sells fish. Most adults in the town avoid the strange-tasting wax fish, but children still buy the fish.
The bright happy pigments are juxtaposed with the emptiness at the center of the lives of many of the town’s inhabitants. Just under the thin stratum of dazzling hues that all can see is a dark and eerie place, from which all who enter want to escape.

...Thunkathunkathunkathunkathunk. The peddler dragged his old wagon over the grey cobblestones of Penny Lane. He noticed a strange occurrence of several pennies scattered all over the ground, in the gutters, cracks of the cobblestone, and along the sidewalks. They were the only flashes of color in an otherwise drab and grimy street; even the buildings themselves seemed to sag, tired seniors with frowning faces. The glint of the copper top of a penny caught his eye, it was unlike any other penny he had seen before. Abraham Lincoln’s face seemed to be smiling back at him, he was entranced, and leaned down to pick it up since heads are good luck right? In his haste to pick it up, he tripped over his own feet, yanking his wagon forward and pitching it into the deep ditch that funneled the waste of the street out of town. Crack! His wagon, his livelihood, folded in on itself like a hungry rollaway bed. Completely forgetting the penny, he plunged into the gutter to assess the damage and cursed at what he saw. The axle was snapped clean through.
“Excuse me sir, do you need a hand?”
The peddler turned around toward the friendly voice and saw an older man approaching him.
“My damn axle broke.”
“I can take you to the hardware store if you’d like, it’s right around the corner.” The peddler silently followed the limping old man to the neon-lit facade of “City Hardware”.
A small man who eyes just barely broke the horizon line of the counter stared down Harvey and the peddler. “Howdy fellas! What can I do for ya?” said the store clerk. The peddler looked around the shop trying to pinpoint the location of the voice, at the same time replying with, “Um, I’m gonna need some wood and a new axle.” The bottom half of a dutch door swung open and a long piece of wood emerged. The plank of wood was about a foot wide and seemed to have a never ending length. The wood was now inches away from seemingly colliding with a rack of light bulbs. The wood came to a halt, nearly touching one of the delicate bulbs. The store clerk stood at the root of the plank. In one hand he held an axle, the other he dedicated to balancing the long piece of wood on his shoulder. Rushing forward to take the precariously balanced load, the peddler threw some cash at the clerk and headed out of the store, leaving the flabbergasted small person and a stunned Harvey frozen in his wake. He had business to attend to!

Once the wagon was repaired, he decided he might as well leave his cart on this street to do the day's business. The sun’s rays were beginning to shine past the surrounding buildings and townspeople were slowly emerging, stretching and yawning as they walked in and out of doors. Reaching down into his cart, the peddler pulled out golden trinkets and waited for the masses to walk by. Feeling generous, he didn’t make his usual pitch about how much luck they would bring his customers. “Come one, come all! Take advantage of the deal of the century to spread cheer and good luck among your loved ones! These golden trinkets, when given away to your friends, will bring guaranteed lifelong happiness! So come, be a good person, and pay me so you can pay it forward!”

Motif for the next blog...
It was a bright shining day and the owner of Pets, Pets, Pets was cleaning up the store to prepare for the shipment of 200 Pickerel. He cleared the dead, floating fish out of the tanks, and freshened up the water. He sighed, and his lips curved into a soft smile.
He heard the truck and went out back to meet UPS guy. As soon as he was in spitting distance he got a whiff of the mustached man and tried not to gag. He turned his head away from the man. “Sign here please.” he heard. 200 he read, then something that started with a P, and Pets, Pets, Pets delivery order, only skimming what he thought was the correct information. “Thank you just unpack the boxes and leave them in the back. I’ll leave the door open.”
“Are you sure? They don’t have any cages.”
“Yeah I’m sure. I have their tanks set up.”
The owner went on his merry way and started opening up for the start of the day.  He heard, “All done sir, I’ll close the door behind me.” All the sudden he heard squawking. “What the sam-heck?” He thought.  He walked to the back of the store where he saw 200 Parakeets. Suddenly, they all took flight, and sailed around the room. Blue, gold, and green feathers flew around him. His eyes grew big. They started picking at his head and he couldn’t take it anymore. He sprinted for the door and burst out the front of the store followed by hundreds of technicolor birds. Suddenly the birds filled the sky of the town and began wreaking havoc on the citizens, pooping everywhere and pecking on the heads of innocent people.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town... the hippies have come. A band of 10 young woman floated into town last afternoon via the Rainbow River. The group call themselves “The Wild Bunch,” and they are intent on revitalizing the city. “We are fine with our town,” many people have said to them, yet the Wild Bunch refuses to leave. They say their mission is to turn the city back into the way it was before people came and “ruined” the landscape. This hasn’t gone over well.
The Wild Bunch has already filled the entire parking lot on Carrier avenue with dirt, which previously served as the main parking lot for The Victorian. Perhaps they were too influenced by Joni Mitchell, as they unpaved a parking lot, and put up their paradise. Additionally, the group has been planting Sunflowers, Daffodils, and Queen Anne’s Lace in front of every home and storefront in town. This has angered some townspeople, as they found the random gifts to be creepy and weird.

If you weave your way across the dirt, and head toward the tracks, toward the river again... a sign sits above the gold rimmed door of Oldies but Goodies, the faint memory of an “L” lies underneath the third “O,” remembering a time when the quaint antique shop had donned the name Oldies but Goldies. Inside, the air is heavy with dust and heat and the soggy wood floor covered in water spots from a leaky roof and a tired owner. A dull yellow wallpaper occupies the walls, causing the occupants of the cramped storefront to reminisce upon the times that they’ve vomited. And yet, the shop still turns a profit. If you were to ask her, the owner would tell you that it was all due to her good luck charm, a little golden figurine of a shepherd that sits behind the front counter.

She would be right. People come from far and wide just to see it, and then they buy something to be polite. None of them realize it, but that’s the way of the world. Gold is like that. It’s magnetic.

The owner, Ms. Fairshiels, is the last in a long line. Her father owned an antique store, and his father before him. As far as she knows, Ms. Fairshiels was the great great granddaughter of an antique store owner. She hadn’t wanted to take after her family. She wanted to be a dancer in New York City. But that hadn’t worked out. The big city rejected her like a bad heart. So she went back home and took over the store. She dusts the shelves, wipes the windows, and pretends like she’s doing it on stage at Radio City. Fortunately, Ms. Fairshiels smiles when she goes to bed at night. There’s some joy in consolation.

Walk across the street to....The front of Los Tacos has a big red sign that reads “Los Tacos,” almost as if taunting the Beijing Buffet whose sole claim to fame was their small neon open sign which flashed with bemusing irregularity. Upon entering the building one is greeted with the wafting odor of meat product, and glaringly orange floor tiles that were surely chosen by an intoxicated contractor. The grimmey forest green tables were squished together in an uncomfortable configuration. All of these were reasons why Guillermo decided to run the scheme. It started small, maybe once a week. But somewhere along the line he got ballsy. Every night before the shop closes he slips a porcelain blue salt and pepper shaker into his pocket. He knows they must be worth only about a dime or so, but he feels so alive. The anticipation on his face, sweat glittering across his forehead and fingers trembling. The owner has been on a tear about the so called “salt and pepper bandit,” only adding to Guillermo’s guilty pleasure. It's been months.

Despite the ecstasy of each heist, Guillermo knew he couldn’t take the heat if he ever got caught. He also knew he wouldn’t be able to explain the countless number of porcelain shakers adorning his apartment, if he ever had company. So he took the only available course of action. He hid the evidence. The blue shakers were camouflaged amid playgrounds, parks, diners, and shops, dotting the cityscape.

After lunch or dinner, the grocery store awaits. On the corner of Simone Boulevard and Carrier Ave, Helen’s Produce Store has sat for as long as anyone can remember. Usually off, the bright red neon lights of the sign, randomly flicker on, illuminating the H, E, L , P, U and the S. The sign flashes as one enters the rusting automatic doors that haven’t opened all the way in years. Under the hum of the fulgurating fluorescent bulbs, uncertain of whether or not they want to shed light on the dusty and forgotten interior, fruit flies hover over moldy fruit. In the shadows of the chilling frozen food aisles, Helen glides around in her scuffed shoes, the laces always dragging on the dirty laminate floor. Her moth-pocked Christmas sweaters that she wears year round, hide her frail frame underneath. which she strangely wears year-round. Helen can be seen emptying and counting the few bills and loose change in the cash register at checkout counter 13. It’s the same five dollars and thirty nine cents that it’s been for months. The narrow aisles are mostly vacant with the exception of moldy bread and stale Doritos. The store rarely sees customers except for Fridays, when a plethora of Spanish Dulce de Leche candy is restocked.

Or...The corner of 114th and Penny was {different} that day. The large glass garage door of Connie’s Coffee was adorned with hundreds of flowers. The sharp edges of the old body shop were all but gone, veiled by the soft petals and twisted stems. The colors were as if a toddler had thrown handfuls of paint at a wall, contrasting with the smokey wood interior. A sign equally as colored read out the prices of each plant in big block letters. The blossoms were a hit. All day, as people came through the coffee shop, flower upon flower was picked off the storefront. The size of an overjoyed child’s smile paralleled the largeness of the bright yellow sunflower her mother had just bought. The dark plum purple of an orchid a young woman purchased reflected that of the bags under her eyes. A rose a young man gifted to his love was the same color as his blushing cheeks. People came and went, taking flowers as they left. A man bought a bouquet of lilys on the way to a funeral. A woman brought a bundle of peonies to her mother in the hospital.

As Hal South past by, he peered into the window to see Olive Roderiguez frantically cleaning her spilt coffee of the dark hard wood floor. Hal was at a loss. He wanted to buy a flower for Olive, but which one?

Friday, December 9, 2016

(Due Dec. 15th) Post #4 - Sight and Blindness

There is a persistent fog that has settled over the city.  The tops of the buildings are shrouded in it. During the early morning hours, 4 AM to be precise and rather unexpectedly, a train rolls down the tracks.  There hasn't been a train in years, but it rolls through once at 4 AM and then at 4 PM. The early morning train's whistle blows several times, and at least 50 cars roll through fairly quickly and a bright red caboose ends the procession.  Strangely, Munny Pang is standing on the caboose's platform, and as the train moves by, he is throwing orange peels onto the tracks.

At 4 PM, however, the train creeps along the tracks and eventually stops.  The train is quite long and blocks all the roads that cross it in town. Once the train stops, the door to the boxcar opens and a small man accompanied by a young boy of about 13 get out and make their way to the small park next to Only Way street. The boy, whose mouth is covered by duct tape,  sets-up a small tent under a very old oak tree. The old man sits on a blue blanket spread by the boy and takes off his worn-out hiking boots. As they walk to the park, people observe that the old man is blind and the young boy is helping him travel. Because the fog is so dense, they really just look like shadowy figures.

Your character, for some reason, must go through the park.  Once he or she does, the old man shouts a prophecy at your character.  (You've drawn a prophecy from the coffee cup and should use it in some way.)

1) "The truth with all its power lives inside me."
2) "How terrible--to see the truth/when the truth is only pain to him who sees."
3) "What will come will come/Even if I shroud it all in silence."
4) "So, you mock my blindness? Let me tell you..."
5) "Your great good fortune, true, it was your ruin."
6) Ah, but aren't you the best man[woman] alive at solving riddles?"

Because it is Wednesday, the bells at St. Cecilia's church begin to ring at noon.  Instead of stopping in the usual 10 minutes, one bell in the tower keeps ringing in a soft, yet persistent tone, as if calling people to church.  In the grave yard across the street, a nun, a priest and a policeman stand over an old grave that has been recently disturbed.  The headstone is a cross that appears to have some red paint brushed across it.  On one arm of the cross, a jade pendant dangles at the end of a silver necklace.

Throughout the day and into the evening a woman can be seen walking around the streets.  Her appearance contrasts those around her in the fog. Her outfit is various shades of red. Her boots are burnt sienna and the color makes her look as if she isn't actually touching the ground when she walks. The long, maroon skirt is stitched with sparkling beads and the scarf wrapped around her head is of such a bright salmon color that it appears to be glowing.  Around her neck sways a large tooth of some kind, attached to an old leather string. She doesn't seem to have a direction, and she stops various people and asks them a question. (What question does your character answer?)

DO I HAVE TO INCLUDE ALL OF THIS IN MY BLOG?  Of course not. This is a creative writing exercise to make you think about literature and the choices an author makes.  Many of the details are drawn from your suggestions. But you must include the prophecy.  You should try to capture the mood and tone of the post and include as many elements as possible while keeping your word count to 450 - 500 words.

Friday, October 28, 2016

#3 - Thirst Due date -Nov. 9th

As the reporters leave town, the cities water leaves with it. There is a problem with the main water line heading into the city and the whole city’s water cuts off. No one knows why it was shut off or for how long it will be off, and the mayor has mysteriously left town. The fishing pond and Rainbow River immediately become hot spots for local residents to take showers and wash their clothes. Tensions rise throughout the city as people fight over the little water left in the area. School and some jobs are temporarily cancelled in this state of emergency and as expected, most residents begin to panic.
Some people band together to collectively search for water while others simply stay put and manage their remaining resources. Nevertheless, everyone is out and about dealing with the tough situation.

Everyone in the blog city interacted with at least one person this week
The confirmed interactions are as follows:

Annabell Amelie Adamson either Wren Henry or Jamie Medina
Autumn Moore-Wren Dillan
Candice Arnett-Scarlett White
Sasha Tary-Rick Flame
Hal South-Olive Roderiguez
Henry Johnson-Lucien Marr
Howard Chapman-Laurelil Steson
Anthony Moretti, Sophie Stone, or Milton Brock
Baker Shefield-Rory Langely
Barnabas Evergreen-Rebekah Mershire
Cecelia Fisher-Philip Hornbuckle
Colette Mikealson-Nephele Neil
Ellen Davis-Munny Pang
Elliott Varane-Masie Waren-Loe
Harvey Potter-Jenn Sonyac
Gaia Lux-Jackie Wackerman

Man Low- ????

Monday, October 3, 2016

#2- This is living? Due date: Oct. 11th

The editor of Southern Living crooked a discerning eyebrow at the underwhelming façade of The Victorian. It was 8:30 am, but she’d been up since 5, and her crew had a long day ahead of them doing interviews and photoshoots. They were covering this town for a piece titled “15 Southern Towns Making a Comeback”, but she had yet to see what exactly was supposed to be coming back in this tumbledown town. Her proposal team was going to get an earful when she got back.

The apartment building groaned as if to protest her thoughts. Anica Mathews scanned it critically once more, wryly wondering how she could sell this ancient, hulking establishment to her readers. A lived-in feel? Nostalgia for an era gone by? The quaint touch of antiquity would be stretching it a bit. She resolved to think about it later. Turning sharply on her heel, she issued orders to the veritable army waiting behind her.

“Reporters, make-up artists, photographers, pair up! Knock on every door! I want to know everything about everybody who lives here! Where they work, what they eat, when they sleep, hell, even hows deys momandem? Give me pictures! If it ain’t pretty, make it pretty! If it ain’t interesting, make it interesting! If they slam the door in your face, pick the lock! We have a magazine to produce! You got it?

“GOT IT!” They chorused back at her, enthused, then scurried through the crookedly hanging front door, ants ready to swarm. Anica could already hear indignant shouting issuing from the lobby. Smiling smugly, she resettled her designer hat atop her perfectly coiffed hair and set off towards city hall. She had a meeting with the mayor to get to.

This is how your story continues: accosted by pushy magazine employees, determined to include you in a feature of Southern Living. Enjoy.