Crossing the finish line

Crossing the finish line

Today I crossed the 50,000 word mark. I really have nothing to say about it except I am happy that part is over. My story ended 12,000 words ago and I have been struggling to add additional words without editing. I did manage to come up with some tricks, all legal, and in some of my more chaotic moments of writing, I think I actually improved the story. Now comes the fun and hard part , turning this story into something worth reading. NaNo-2017-Winner-Badge

The Zombie Contingency (Sunday Photo Fiction)

The Zombie Contingency (Sunday Photo Fiction)

Photo Credit: Anonymous

For centuries, the Ectos chose to live peacefully in the shadows. A once mighty race, the atrocities of the Hominini forced them into exclusion. The Ectos could not understand why the larger and more powerful Hominini feared them. All the Ectos wanted was to co-exist. But how?

‘Maybe if we show them a better way,’ said their Queen. She sent out her best messengers to teach the Hominini the secrets of a perfect society.

‘To their builders, share the secrets of our architecture,’ she said

‘And to their scientists, teach them the ways of travel.’

She sent messengers to their government leaders, extoll the blessing of communal living and shared responsibility, and to their artists, the path to creativity.

No secret was withheld. The Queen waited for news that the Hominini were ready to join with them in peace.

But none returned.

In her anger, the Queen declared: No more will we hunker in the shadows. We gave them a choice and they refused. Now they must suffer the consequences.”

 “What will you do, mighty Queen?”

‘The Hominini have one great fear that will be their undoing. Time to execute the Zombie Contingency*.’

* The Zombie Contingency is a fear that every bug you ever killed will one day come back to seek revenge. Once executed, there is no turning back. All we can do is pray. 


Praying Mantis (1 of 1)
Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding



Sunday Photo Fiction is a weekly challenge to write a 200-word story based on a photo prompt. Thank to the anonymous contributor for this week’s challenge.



The Unimaginable (Friday Fictioneers)

The Unimaginable (Friday Fictioneers)

Photo Credit: J. Hardy Carroll

My view of the world changed April 19, 1995.

“There’s smoke coming from downtown”, someone yelled.  

A plume of black smoke billowed on the horizon. Rumors flew: a gas leak caused an explosion at the YMCA. Something explainable. Something I could wrap my mind around. We made stupid jokes, not knowing better. We hoped everyone was all right.

Moments later we learned a different truth. 

The truck bomb that exploded in downtown Oklahoma City obliterated the entire front of the building, causing major damage for 16-blocks. 168 deaths, including 19 children.

 I had no basis for imagining such horror. 

Not exactly fiction, this is a snippet from a larger piece I wrote about the Oklahoma City Bombing. My husband and his best friend were  fire fighters who worked the bombing. Neither were unscathed by the experience. 

Friday Fictioneer’s is a weekly challenge to write a complete story in 100 words or less based on a photo prompt. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting this challenge and J. Hardy Carroll for this week’s prompt.

Nano Day 6 – Weekend Update and More

Nano Day 6 – Weekend Update and More

For the past few days I have Nano’d like there is no tomorrow.  My word average is 2,071, thanks to some marathon writing over the weekend. I am slowly getting past the need to edit. I tell myself that it’s all about the word count, baby. Who cares if you repeated yourself a few times? I did run spell/grammar check.  Bad.. I know, but I was selective in what I changed. I found I used the word ‘Maybe’ a lot. As in ‘Not much of a weapon but maybe she could fake it to look like a knife.’ When it worked, I rewrote the sentence and added more words. I also found changing contractions increased my word count. The story now sounds like it was written in the Queen’s English.

At just over 12,000 words, however, I am finding myself running out of plot. I’ve added a possible love interest and a mysterious man who has a secret that is not related to murder. I just need some red herrings to chase.

Here is a small exert from my story:

When no one answered, Mattie got up from the ground  and walked back down the path. As she did, the sound of footsteps resumed.

Mattie called again. “Is anyone out there?” She was beginning to get a little unnerved. The woods seemed eerily quiet. Even the birds had stopped their chirping. Suddenly, Mattie heard a noise behind her. There was definately someone else in the woods besides her. She picked up the brush she was using to clean the headstone. Not much of a weapon, but maybe she could make it look like she had a knife.

“This is your last chance to identify yourself. Or I’m going to….”

Before she could finish the sentence a deep voice behind her said, “or you are going to do what?”

Mattie turned to see a tall man with chestnut brown hair and deep-set eyes. He looked to be about 45 years old and given the trimness of his build, he was in good shape. Her eyes at once were drawn to the gun on the side of his hip.

An instant later she noticed the badge on his chest.

“Mine telling me what you are doing out here Miss?”

At least he was a polite police officer.


Paparazzi (Sunday Photo Fiction)

Paparazzi (Sunday Photo Fiction)

Photo Credit: Al Forbes

In the beginning, they shared a symbiotic relationship. She was a rising star. He, a young photographer. They needed each other to launch their careers. Wherever she went, he followed, capturing every moment of her life. As she grew more famous, she needed him less. And he needed her more. He crossed lines: nude photos at the beach; an illicit kiss. All justified because her fans demanded to know. He gave them what they wanted.

His last photographs were gruesome. She looked as if she had been on a week-long drunk; hair unkempt, no makeup; sweats that hid the recent weight gain. He clicked the camera from a distance, capturing her appearance but not her pain.

The photos went viral, sealing his reputation as a world-class paparazzi. He was the new rising star.

At the inquest into her suicide, the prosecutor asked, ‘did your photos contribute to her death?’ The jury found him blameless, but he knew otherwise.

He found himself guilty and imposed his own sentence. Her photos lined the walls of his small apartment as a constant reminder of the price of his fame.

It was a life sentence.

Sunday Photo Fiction is a weekly challenge to write a 200-word story based on a photo prompt. Thanks to Al Forbes (A Mixed Bag) for providing this week’s challenging photo.

Adding Beauty to Life

Adding Beauty to Life

What can you do today to add more beauty to your life? 

That question was posed to me this morning while journaling. One of the ways I find beauty is through photographs. The photos below were taken early this foggy Autumn morning.

I love how the leaves burst with color. The fog provides an eerie glow in the background.

Fall Morning (2 of 1)
Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

I am the first to admit that what I capture through the camera lens cannot compare with what I see with my eye. With a little editing using Adobe Lightroom, however, I can come close.

Fall Morning (3 of 1)
Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

Autumn is my favorite time of year. Unfortunately, it doesn’t last nearly long enough and life gets to busy too really enjoy it. Now that it is November,  there won’t be many more days before the weather turns cold and the leaves turn brown and drop.


Fall Morning (1 of 1)
Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

I hope you find a little beauty in your life today, no matter where you are.

One Night (Friday Fictioneers)

One Night (Friday Fictioneers)

Photo Credit: Sarah Ann Hall

Seventeen vases stood in plain sight on the mantel; an unspoken confession of her love affair with William. She displayed them in order; starting with the small red vase that held the single rose  William gave her their first time together. A strange affair; they met one night a year. William  brought her flowers, she brought a vase. Together, a symbol of their union.

The next morning, an empty vase took its place with the others, symbol of her loneliness.

“I see you have a new vase.” Her husband’s eyes glanced over the top of the newspaper, then disappeared.  “Pretty.”


Friday Fictioneers is a weekly challenge to write a complete story in 100 words or less based on a photo prompt. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting this challenge and Sarah Ann Hall for this week’s photo prompt

NaNo Day 2 – Stuck? Take a Drive

NaNo Day 2 – Stuck? Take a Drive

Another successful day although I had my doubts.  I had an early morning meeting at work today so I was unable to write first thing. Instead I found a little time this afternoon and started on my second chapter. I had a time and a place but not much else.  My heroine was in a cemetery, all alone or so she thought.  About 400 words in, she heard footsteps and I didn’t have a clue as to how this fit into the story. Stuck, I decided to take a drive to the grocery store, all the while thinking about what to do.  I had just about decided that maybe this chapter should come after the murder when I saw my answer – a police car. Without giving anything away, I immediately knew what was going to happen. I played the scene in my head, working out the details, hoping I would remember them until I got home. As soon as I could I began to write and by the end of the chapter, I had met my daily word count.  This is what gives me hope that may I can do this.

Total word count = 3709.  Still a little ahead.


NaNo Day 1 – The Beginning

NaNo Day 1 – The Beginning

Today was the first day of NaNoWriMo and I am glad to say I successfully managed to write 2025 words toward my novel Arsenic and Old Letters. Most of my word count came before 7:00 am this morning. Although I had been mentally preparing for this for weeks, writing and rewriting in my head, the first few words seem to be the hardest to put down on paper. Almost immediately my internal editor kicked in with her negative spiel, and no matter how much I tried to ignore her, she would not relent. By the time I had written everything I planned for my first chapter, I was still short of words and I could not think of anything new to add. Hoping to get a bit of a lead, I added details. Some enhanced the story and some was pure nonsense. Through the process, however, I started learning about my characters as they revealed themselves. No matter how well you plan your characters, they will surprise you if you let them.

I hope tomorrow goes a little smoother and I am able to get into a writing groove. If you are participating in NaNoWri, leave a comment and tell me how your first day went. I would love to hear from you.