Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge #2

Be your own thesaurus. Pick a word, and write down as many synonymous words as you can. Then, expand to synonymous phrases, then to synonymous metaphors. Play with the idea of similarity.

For this week’s exercise, I chose to explore the word pot. I had no good reason for choosing this particular word, but I couldn’t come up with anything more exciting. Rather than spending too much time dwelling on what word to choose, I decided to go with the first thing that came to mind. My gaze landed on the little ceramic pot that holds the slips of paper with these exercises on them. It’s certainly not an exciting or glorious word, but I went with it anyway.

So what is a pot, but a container. A tool used for cooking. In that sense, I came up with the following similar words:

pan
container
bucket
kettle
bowl
basket
cauldron

From this list of words, I moved easily into a series of synonymous phrases. Here are a few I came up with containing the word pot and other similar words:

Pot calling the kettle black.
Out of the pan, into the fire.
Kick the bucket.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

While I didn’t come up with any synonymous metaphors centering on the word pot, I was struck by a certain similarity that emerged in the above phrases. There is in all of them, a sort of negativity. I can’t help but wonder about the origins of these idioms.

I think the idea behind this exercise is to complete it quickly, to let the mind play with words. I think it should be used to create surprising connections between words and ideas that perhaps you hadn’t thought of before.

This might not have been an especially useful exercise, at least not in the immediate sense of producing material for a larger work. Even so, it was interesting to see where I could go with a mundane word such as pot. And I do love the word cauldron. It has a sort of magical quality about it, don’t you think?

I Am Number Four, by Pittacus Lore: A Review

Book #7 on my 2017 Reading Challenge, a book with a number in the title, I Am Number Four, by Pittacus Lore was a fun read if not quite as satisfying as I had hoped. This book is also part of my core “rainbow list” and I’d been looking forward to reading it for some time.

The premise of the story is catchy and intriguing:

Nine of us came. We live among you. Three are dead. I am number Four. I am next.

This book tells the story of a boy, calling himself John Smith. He’s one of nine others who came to Earth from another world and have been hiding here for the past several years. They are being hunted by another race of aliens, the ones who destroyed their home planet.

I Am Number Four opens as John (then called Daniel) and his adult “protector” are compelled to pull up and move again, something that has happened already many times since they arrived on Earth. They end up moving to the small town of Paradise, Ohio.

John makes friends here – and enemies – and doesn’t want to move again. But things begin to happen that makes this almost a certainty.

Overall, I liked this book. The action scenes are great. The suspense and the crisp writing style move the story along at a fantastic pace. My one big complaint is John’s poor decision making. He behaves badly and makes stupid decisions for selfish reasons. And while I understand why he feels the way he does, his responses felt excessive.

Traces

Today was my coworker’s last day before she heads off to a well-deserved retirement. The official countdown began a couple of months ago, building in anticipation until today. A day of great joy for my friend, but a bittersweet moment for the rest of us. Farewells are never easy.

This anticipation of saying goodbye to a friend started me thinking about the things left behind when relationships end or change. What impressions – or traces – are left by those who are no longer around?

In regards to my newly retired coworker, she leaves behind a legacy of kindness and compassion. She is one of the kindest people I know, and I will forever be grateful for the privilege of working alongside her even for such a short time.

There are others, of course, who have left traces of themselves behind. The obvious ones like parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins. I am who I am today because of the foundation these key people laid for my life.

There the less obvious ones. Like the girl in eighth grade who took a chance on the new girl, the painfully shy one who was probably a little bit odd. She showed me what it was to be a little wild. And though we’ve moved on, her friendship still means the world to me.

The college roommate who became a lifelong friend. She taught me what it means to share space with another. Her faith in me helped me to climb out of the self imposed shell I’d created for myself years before.

And still there were others…

The young woman from India who became a college roommate and cherished friend. She opened my tiny experience and showed me a global perspective. She is a far better friend than I ever deserved.

Or the girl in middle school born without arms who taught me that friends come in all shapes and sizes.

The high school English teacher who tried to get me to challenge myself, and reach beyond “just enough” for something greater. I wish I’d listened to him at the time.

The uncle who believed in me enough to tell me he would read my truly terrible first novel.

The list could go on. Employers, coworkers, classmates, teachers, neighbors, youth group leaders, pastors and Sunday School teachers.

For every relationship by birth or by choice, I am grateful. Every chance encounter that has left its mark on my life. Not all of the traces left are positive. But I’m grateful even for the negative ones, as they have hopefully left me a stronger person.

Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge – May 31, 2017

Welcome back to the Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge! This is the place to find unexpected inspiration meant to encourage more creativity.

I’ll post a writing prompt here each Wednesday. Use it to spark your own writing—a journal entry, a poem, a short story. If you wish, consider sharing a link to your response in the comments below. There are some simple rules, so check them out below before posting.

Please, have fun. Be creative. And let’s write more words! Thanks for playing along! Happy writing!

Here is the writing prompt for the week. Have fun!

Be your own thesaurus. Pick a word, and write down as many synonymous words as you can. Then, expand to synonymous phrases, then to synonymous metaphors. Play with the idea of similarity.

Rules for posting to Wednesday Writing Challenge:

  1. Must be family friendly.
  2. Hate and intolerance will not be accepted.
  3. No pornography, erotica, graphic violence or excessive profanity.

My aim is to maintain a site that’s open to a wide audience. I write for middle grade on up to adults. I will review any content shared on my site, and reserve the right to remove any link.

Please, have fun. Be creative. And let’s write more words!

Wednesday Writing Challenge #1, My Response

The first Wednesday Writing Challenge went out this week. Since I can’t ask others to do what I will not do myself, I’ve written my response. Here again is the prompt:

Create a pessimistic character. Create his or her foil by making an optimistic character. Put the characters in a room and let them talk.

Create a pessimistic character.

The main character of one of my novels in progress is Torq d’Amman, a former slave turned assassin who is about as dark as they come. It’s a kill or be killed world for Torq, and he made up his mind a long time ago that no one cares about him but himself.

Create his foil.

On the flip side we have Cora, a seven year old dynamo who has just lost her mother and was forced to leave her home. Despite her recent hardships, she is a happy, curious child. When Cora meets Torq – who pulled her from the fire that killed her mother – she becomes obsessed with him. She sees beyond his cold killer exterior to the man he is inside.

The conversation.

I’ll be honest, every time I put these two together, fun happens. For this exercise I wrote an interaction between these two characters. It’s a little bit of magic I’m not sure I’m ready to unleash on the world. It’s hard to share pieces from a work in progress. But since there’s a good chance this scene won’t make it into the novel anyway, I’ve decided to go ahead and share it.

Watch
(an excerpt from Beast, by T. A. Hampton)

Torq stood in the corner of the room, half facing the window and half turned into the room. Shadows filled the corners, filled his mind. From where he stood, he could see the alleyway outside, as well as the entire room. Ellisa sat before the fire with the herb woman, her back to the entrance. The foolish woman presented herself as an easy target.

Cora entered like a bright whirlwind, pushing against the shadows. Torq tried to ignore her, but instead of joining the women, the girl bounded directly over to where he stood. She bounced on her toes trying to see over the sill of the window.

“What are you looking at?”

“Nothing. I’m watching.”

“Watching what?” Cora strained again to peer out the window before turning back to Torq, trying to follow his gaze.

“Everything.”

“You can’t watch everything at once.”

Torq didn’t answer the girl. Instead he turned back to watching. The alleyway remained clear. The two women still sat close, conspiring together some plan he would likely find objectionable. Cora stood at his feet, just outside of arm’s length. She stared up at him, her face serious.

Suddenly a twinkle brightened her eyes and she dashed away to where the women sat. She popped up behind them like a marmot. When she caught Torq’s gaze, she laughed and dashed away again. This time she crawled under a chair in the far corner and peeked out at Torq, again catching his gaze before scrambling back out again.

Torq tried in vain to ignore the girl’s antics. It would be as easy to ignore a sudden sun break at midwinter. Again and again she moved to a new position around the room, giggling in delight when she would find Torq still watching her.

At last Cora stopped by the door. She stood unmoving for some time watching Torq. He very nearly dismissed her from his mind, grateful that she was still at last. Then he noticed that she crept slowly along the wall, freezing the moment she thought he looked at her.

When she arrived at the corner, Torq reached behind him suddenly and grabbed a fistful of her clothing between her shoulder blades. She let out a surprised squeak as he lifted her into the air and brought her forward.

Just as he did this, he caught a movement outside in the alley.

“Someone is coming,” Torq said. He carefully set the girl down and pressed himself against the wall by the window in order to see better.

“That would be Henri,” the old woman said rising to her feet. “He’s here to pick up flowers for market. I’ll go meet him.”

Torq watched, and sure enough, a middle aged man entered the alley pulling behind himself a small cart. He saw the man smile and wave as Enyd greeted him from the other end of the alley. Satisfied the man posed no threat, Torq turned back to the room to find Cora staring up at him with huge round eyes.

“You really can watch everything at once.”

Wednesday Writing Challenge

Welcome to Wednesday Writing Challenge! I had so much fun last month with the daily writing prompts, that I’ve decided to share the fun and extend it into a new, weekly post!

I’ll post a writing prompt here each Wednesday. Use it to spark your own writing if you wish. Consider sharing a link to your response in the comments below. There are some simple rules, so check them out here before posting.

Thanks for playing along! Happy writing!

 

Rules for posting to Wednesday Writing Challenge:

  1. Must be family friendly.
  2. Hate and intolerance will not be accepted.
  3. No pornography, erotica, graphic violence or excessive profanity.

My aim is to maintain a site that’s open to a wide audience. I write for middle grade on up to adults. I will review any content shared on my site, and reserve the right to remove any link.

Please, have fun. Be creative. And let’s write more words!

Without further ado, then, here is our first writing prompt. Have fun!

Create a pessimistic character. Create his or her foil by making an optimistic character. Put the characters in a room and let them talk.

Rebel Queen, by Michelle Moran: A Review

If I wasn’t already sold on the idea of audio books, experiencing this book through the superb narration of Sneha Mathan would have certainly sealed it for me.

Rebel Queen, by Michelle Moran, is a historical novel set in mid-nineteenth century India, during the time of British occupation. The story is told through the voice of Sita, a young woman who becomes a member of Rani Lakshmi’s Durga Dal (elite women fighters trained to specifically guard the queen). Written in the style of a memoir, this story is deeply personal.

Because of this memoir style, Moran allows the story to take a meandering course through Sita’s life beginning with her early years growing up in a small village. At times, the narrative wanders as Sita reminisces, but these side trips only serve to deepen and enrich the story.

Moran has painted an incredible picture of life in a Hindu village where women were required to remain veiled and were not allowed outside their home. Her family has no money for a dowry, and so Sita is put into a position where she must either become a temple prostitute, or train to become a part of the Durga Dal.

Sita is ultimately chosen to join the Durga Dal and moves into the royal city of Jhansi. Here she begins a whole new life so far removed from her village upbringing. A life filled with intrigue at every level.

This book is well written, the story and the suspense building so naturally I didn’t even mind that the title character – the rebel queen – doesn’t even make an appearance until well into the book. Even then, Rani Lakshmi remains a background character to Sita’s story, though an important one.

I have little experience or knowledge of the history and culture of India, so I can’t speak to the historical accuracy of Moran’s writing. Nevertheless, she has painted a picture of a world that feels very real and believable. This book makes me wish I did know more about Indian culture.

Rebel Queen is a deeply moving story, one I highly recommend. And while I’m sure the print version of this book is equally enjoyable, I must say, you’ll miss out on something special if you don’t try the audio narrated by Sneha Mathan. Her performance is truly stunning.