Sunday, September 21, 2014

I wrote a short story for the Writer's Weekly Fall 2014 "24-hour Contest". They give you a topic and word count and you have 24 hours to write a story. 1st through 3rd places range from $300 to $200. So here's what I submitted at only 880 words (just under the 950 limit). Now I wait only six short weeks to see how I did!:

The Warning

Amanda zipped her coat and pulled her collar up tightly to try and brace from the onslaught of the cold November wind. She looked back as her sister Janet emerged from the tarot reader’s shop. They looked at each other in a sort of shock at what they were just told. Janet shivered and started to ask, “Do you think we should talk about the warning…”Amanda cut her off, “I don’t want to talk about it. She’s just a crazy old woman who told us a crazy tale about the crazy things we told her.” Amanda began to walk, trudging through the piles of dried up red and orange leaves covering the sidewalk. Janet walked along side her insisting, “Amanda, c’mon, why don’t you want to talk about it? She told you not to go home tonight, to move out.”Amanda reached her car and stared at Janet. “Janet, we saw something. But it wasn’t a horrible, murderous ghost like the old woman claimed. I’m not leaving my home or running in terror.” With that she began to unlock her door and get in. They drove separately so she waved goodbye to Janet.Janet didn’t wave back. She was staring at an elderly man that was slowly walking by that stopped to lean over to Janet and put a finger to his lips as if to shush her. Janet looked at him oddly, “Well, hello to you too!” she exclaimed. The strange, old man smiled and walked on, tipping his old, worn hat. Amanda watched the moment and briefly forgot about the cold wind biting at her cheeks. “What was that all about?” she asked Janet.Janet shrugged, “I don’t know. I guess I’m either talking too loud or he doesn’t want to hear what I have to say.”Amanda waved bye again and got in her car and promptly started it to turn on the heater. As she drove home she reflected on what she’d seen around the house. It was just a dark figure out of the corner of her eye occasionally. It wasn’t scary to her. She just sometimes didn’t appreciate the bumps and sounds in the night or the random hushed voice that seemed to be coming from somewhere. After Janet screamed from the kitchen one evening while over for dinner, Amanda was convinced by her sister to go to the fortune teller. Janet swore she saw a dark figure behind her that disappeared when she turned around. She arrived home as it was getting dark and found the front door unlocked. That was strange since she obsessed about locking it usually. She turned on the living room and kitchen lights and began to heat up some leftovers from the fridge in the microwave. The phone rang suddenly, cutting through the quiet of the house.“Hello,” answered Amanda.“It’s me. Are you alive? What’s happening?” asked a worried sounding Janet.“I’m fine. Sheesh. It’s just a fortune teller. Let it go,” Amanda exclaimed. “Amanda. Listen. She said someone would die. Tonight. This is ridiculous. I’m coming over,” and the phone went dead. She knew Janet had set her mind to it and there was nothing she could do but endure the night with her.A small noise came from the bathroom down the hall. Amanda looked around the corner, seeing into the dark bathroom and shrugged it off after seeing nothing. She went back to preparing her leftovers for her measly dinner she’d concocted. She turned slowly blowing on the hot food and there it was. The dark figure. At least she thought it was. She looked up quickly and there was nothing to see. Just a glance from the corner of her eye. As always. She sighed and went to sit down at the kitchen table. After a few bites, while expecting Janet at any moment, she heard a noise again from behind her. As she turned around to see what it was two large hands belonging to an even larger, scary looking man wrapped tightly around her throat. She looked at him in panic and tried to scream but nothing came out of the closed windpipe. After a moment of struggling and fighting she began to fade. A cold blackness enveloped her and she slipped away…When she came to she was on a stretcher in her living room surrounded by EMT technicians and police. She lifted her head in confusion and noticed the blood. And the frantic weeping coming from the kitchen. There was blood all over Amanda and the kitchen floor she noticed. And there he was. The scary man was laying on the floor in a crumpled, bloody mess. Janet noticing she’d woken ran to her side, “OH LORD AMANDA!” she cried. “Thank goodness you’re alive. The burglar is dead!”“What happened?” she weakly asked.“What do you mean? I came in and found you on the floor next to this man, thinking you were both dead!” Janet sobbed and couldn’t continue.She gathered herself and looked at Amanda, “She was right! The old woman was right! Someone died tonight!”Amanda looked over to the corner of the kitchen suddenly remembering seeing the dark figure as she passed out. And she knew. She had to stay in this house. Protected.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

I'm writing again. And I'm happy about it. I have four stories I'm writing on right now. Different genres of course.

One: A man lacks the mental and moral difference between right and wrong and commits murder. He gets away with it and goes to his grave tormenting a detective that knows he's guilty. The truth revealed after death.

Two: A woman is diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and struggles to get through the day and cope with her new illness. True story.

Three: A young bartender woman lives a lonely life only to accidentally meet a military computer intelligence man and unexpectedly fall in love, not without some heartbreak.

Four: A young boy buys a pawn shop guitar and finds himself in a band and on stage unexpectedly. 

Each story I'm somewhere between 500 and 2000 words. It's so hard to pick on and run with it, feeling like I'm neglecting the others.

What are you writing lately?

Are you participating in the November novel in a month challenge coming up soon?

- Jas

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Worship Service - 05/11/2014 - Harvest Fellowship

Here's what I learned in church today, just from the worship service, the music part. I'm borrowing some of what was said and adding my own feelings from it, but it was a really moving time and I just wanted to share.

Psalm 46

(NIV) 10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

(AMP) 10 "Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. 
I will be exalted among the nations! 
I will be exalted in the earth!"

Being still could mean many things. To me, it means to be "in the present." To be in the moment. To live in the here and now.

You could live in shame and regret, but then you'd be living in the past. That's not what He said. He said to be "be still". Be here. Don't "be still" as in hold your breath and don't move.

You could live with all your worry and anxiety. But then you'd be living in the future. You're playing a movie in your head of what you think will happen. Whether it does or not, you're not being still. You're headed off down the road not looking where you're going.

Know that He is God. Recognize and understand what that means. He is in control. We're not. So let's take care of now and give up our sorrows and mistakes to Him. Let's look around and see what we can take care of now and not give in to the overwhelming feeling of worry.

I give myself to Him. Right here. Right now. And I give up the past and future to Him. I will be here, still, for His glory.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Danny's Story - Part One

This is an exercise in writing. I've been told, and overheard, time and time again that the only way to get better at writing is to just...write. Anything. Then, do it again. Like Hank Moody once said, "All right, so at the end of the day if you could do anything else, telemarketing, pharmaceutical sales, or ditch digging, major league umpire…I would suggest that you do that because being a writer blows. It's like having homework every day for the rest of your life."

Danny

Eighty three dollars and seventy four cents. That's how much money Danny held tightly bundled in his pocket as he left the house. He'd spent the last three months mowing lawns throughout the neighborhood, minus some occasional Big Gulp and jalapeno hot dog money, saving up his earnings. It was finally time. He walked down the street in his worn Nike knock-offs, Rustler jeans and a plain, worn t-shirt with the richest smile inside his swelling chest. Danny knew exactly what he wanted. And he was walking faster than usual toward the pawn shop. 

The pawn shop was like walking in to a wonderland of sorts. A heaven for the imagination of a young thirteen year old boy. The Chinese stars and butterfly knives took him to his desires to grow up and be a Ninja. The Atari and Nintendo consoles and games made him drool over the thoughts of being a sponsored video game champion. All attainable goals in his youthful, yet ambitious mind. Then there was the array of handguns, rifles and shotguns that made his heartbeat quicken slightly as he stared and slowly scanned over them. It wasn't the revolvers that interested him. The semi-auto handguns, the 9MMs, were the most intriguing. 

None of these things held the prize of his attention for the rest of the visit though. It was the walls. The most beautifully decorated walls. Lined with one after another. Every shape, size, color, style, and personality. He could almost smell the wood and plastic, if it weren't for the other odd, musty smells of the pawn shop. The brilliance of each creation was individually inspiring. He wanted to hold them all. To touch them and run his hands down their bodies and feel the tautness of the strings beneath his fingers, listening to the slight sounds coming from his touches... he was in awe. 

A short, scruffy man with sweat stains coming from the armpits of his t-shirt sauntered over to the boy, "Is there something you'd like to look at?" he asked Danny.

Danny didn't take his eyes from the prize. It was black. It was acoustic. It was a simple Yamaha. But he could see the price tag hanging from the neck and knew he had enough. It was fate. Soon they would be one. Ringing came from his ears and his cheeks flushed as he slowly breathed and stared at his new love. Danny was truly experiencing love at first sight.

Danny looked at the pawn shop man, "I'll take it."

The man started to go on a sales pitch about a dreadnought shape and sound and the F335's tonewood combination including a laminate spruce top, rosewood fingerboard and bridge and meranti back and sides. He even mentioned the gold diecast tuners and how they provided smooth and accurate tuning.

Danny didn't care and didn't know half of what the man was talking about. He just stared at it up on the wall and pulled the money from his pocket.