How to Win at Camp NaNoWriMo, a Guide

1.) Start at midnight on the first of the month. As I am writing this, it's 9:52pm on June 30 and I am ready and raring to go for Camp NaNoWriMo. I plan on eating some soup and watching some Buffy in a bit here, and then getting some Coconut M&Ms and a bottle of water and heading to my bedroom to write, at midnight, until I pass at least 2,000 words. Which, if you note, is more words than you need in a day to finish a WriMo on time. As you will will also note throughout a month of writing with reckless abandon, the first rule of the game should be: Don't waste any time.

2.) Learn to love saying "No." It's the only way you are going to finish a novel in a month. Someone offers you a free trip to a Britney Spears concert? NO. How about an all expense paid trip to Aruba? Also, NO. Britney Spears will probably survive to tour again, and Aruba will probably not sink into the ocean before next summer. This is the month you are writing your novel. So no, you won't be doing much else. This is the second most important rule. Say no whenever you can.

3.) Get comfortable. You're going to spend a month writing, and you're going to do it sitting down. Probably. For god's sake, make sure you are comfortable. The last thing you want is to get an achy back in your first week of writing because you don't have the proper support for wherever you park your behind. Invest time, and if necessary, money, into making sure you can write somewhere you are comfortable. I mean it. This is important.

4.) No Plot? No Problem. It's midnight on the first? It's time to write? Just dive right in. It's NaNoWriMo's motto, and it turns out, it's totally true. So I am making that my key bit of personal advice. Don't plot, don't plan, don't outline. JUST. WRITE. I have finished five out of seven WriMo's (and yes, those two losses still bug me) and the two times I lost were the two times I plotted and outlined. Last November I began with three words in mind: Erotic. Vampire. Western. What turned out from those three words was amazing. I had more fun writing last November than I ever have in my life, and it's because I had no idea what I was doing. Remember, folks: Even if you don't know what you're doing, you can do it anyway.

5.) Don't look back. I feel like I have to keep pointing this out - you're writing a novel in a month. You have no time to look back at what you've written and edit or make changes to any of it. You have to soldier on, no matter how messed up you know your timeline is. The great thing is, since you are writing every day, or even at multiple times throughout the day, you won't forget where you left off. You can look at the last few sentences you wrote and know exactly where you're going. You've got this. Ever onward, fellow writers!

6.) Don't be afraid. You cannot think of failure when you are writing a novel in a month. Negative thoughts, like how much this first draft sucks (and it will) have to be banished from your mind. No, they cannot be allowed to enter in the first place. Fear will inevitably lead to failure. You need to buck up and tell yourself that you can do this, you are a writer. Now say it again. You are a writer.

7. )Don't get cocky, either. The words may be flowing like magic from your fingertips, pouring out of you as you marvel at how fast your fingers are clickety-clacking over and over across the keyboard. You have traveled miles over these keys, but it's not time to think ahead. Don't think about publishing when you are writing, because you aren't there yet. You can save those thoughts for later, but don't get ahead of yourself. There's no time to worry about publishing until you are finished, and you need to remind yourself that while reading about other successes is inspiring and encouraging, it's also just distracting you, and keeping you from writing.

8. )Love your characters. They are your new best friends. It's your job to get to know them, to explore their inner lives and their pasts and to carve out their futures. You need to love them, and celebrate in their joys and triumphs, but you need to kill them, too. You need to confuse them, hurt them, and see them in pain. It's the only way to get to know them better, and it's the only way they are going to come alive to anyone other than you. Remember, in the end, they won't be your imaginary friends anymore, they will belong to everyone.

9.) Live in their world, not yours. Whether you are in your bedroom, office, or local beanery, you aren't really there, are you? You are in the world that you have created for yourself and your little darlings, and good, that is just as it should be. Lose yourself in it. Make sure you know it as well as you know your childhood home, all of its little nooks and crannies and wide open spaces. You live there now, too, and you have to make sure you are comfortable enough there to be able to invite some friends over, when the time finally comes.

10. ) Don't stop 'til get enough. It doesn't matter if you're hungry, you won't starve to death. It doesn't matter if you have to pee either, because you're a big girl and you can hold it. It doesn't matter if it's almost one in the morning and you've been up since six a.m., you can push yourself through the exhaustion, because you are a writer and you can sleep when you're dead. When you're riding the wave of good writing, you don't stop, you don't give it up until you are satisfied. This can be different for everyone. You can write for a certain amount of time, you can write until you've reached a certain word count, whichever works for you. Me, I have an animal inside, and he scratches and scratches at my heart, pawing at me to get on with the writing, and I can't stop until he's done with the scratching and nagging until I've put him to sleep and can't feel him anymore. I can't explain my animal any better than that, he's a mystery to me as well, and he comes and goes from my heart, but that's why it's so important. Listen to yourself, to your body and your mind and your fingers click-clacketing away.

11.) Trust yourself. Believe in yourself. You can do this. And you will do it, because you have to. You have to write, because if you didn't you would die, or you would want to die, and either way it amounts to the same thing. That thing that makes you you, those are the words and the stories that live inside, and it's your job to get them out. You can do it. It might take weeks, or months or years to get your story out of you, but it will come. Have faith in nothing at all, nothing but yourself, and it will come. Praying won't help the story come, so do not look to God or religion. Friends and family will only hinder your progress, so don't go to them for advice, they will be suspicious of you because writers are curious beings. For now, when you are writing, you are on your own. You are in control of your world, your future, your very destiny as a giver of stories.

12.) Congratulate yourself. Constantly. No one has read your story yet, so the only cheerleader you have right now is you. Be good to yourself. Give yourself the proverbial pat on the back. When your muse turns in for the night or your animal stops gnawing on your heartstrings, take a deep breath and let it out. Breathe in, breathe out. Then look. Look at what you've done. You've a novel in a month. You have just used your imagination - something that all of us have, but only so few of us can harness and mold into characters we know as well as our sisters, into worlds we know as intimately as our own. It's magic, writing. You have just created something out of nothing. You have ripped out a part of yourself and commanded it to be tamed onto the page, and now it is a gift that you can give away, whenever you are ready to give it. I don't know about you, but that is my kind of miracle.

Good luck, fellow Campers!

Packing for Camp

Camp NaNoWriMo begins on Monday - another month of writing with reckless abandon as I try once again to finish a 50,000 word novel.

Because I am insane.

I do NaNoWriMo every November, and as of this year I can boast that I've "won" five out of seven NaNo's that I have participated in. I consider myself sort of an expert on writing a book in 30 days, and yes, you can completely disregard the fact that I've never published any of them. I didn't sign up for Camp EditOWriMo, though that should be created and I should join it.

Camp NaNo runs during April and July, so that people who have no lives like myself can shut themselves indoors and alone and write write write! pretty much non-stop for three months per year. I wanted to do April's camp, but I went on vacation that month so I didn't sign up because I knew I would be away and busy and my priority would not be writing. Next month, it sure will be.

After winning last November on day 26, coming in with 56K words and four days to spare, I thought immediately that I wanted to do a workshop for NaNo next year. There are so many writers in New London and Waterford, and yet I never hear of any of them getting riled up enough to win.

I want to rile people up to win - because if I can do it five times, I know most people can do it at least once. You just have to have some tricks up your sleeve to get the job done, and I am going to use July's camp to get all of my tricks in a row and start preparing for what I imagine will be an epic presentation slash workshop in October.

Do any of you have local writing groups that you write with during NaNo's, or other times throughout the year?

Before the Thaw

"Aim right for the center," he whispered in my ear, "Aim right for the heart."

I held the bow steady and pulled back the arrow, breathing slow and deep and even, willing myself to be one with the weapon.

"You want to aim at the middle of him, see. You want to aim at the widest part so you'll have the best chance of bringing him down."

I lowered the bow and turned, and my father frowned deeply.

"Papa," I said, "I know that if I want to kill 'em I've gotta get 'em in the brains."

"Right," he agreed, face softening. "But a good hit to the chest will slow them down every time."

I turned before I sighed, so Papa wouldn’t see me rolling my eyes at him. I got back into position and aimed like he told me, at the center of the target that was hanging around the neck of a dummy I had made to practice with. I breathed in and out, concentrating hard, and then let the arrow go.

It sailed into its target - not the center like Papa had told me, but into the forehead of the dummy instead. I could see the arrow from here. I had pierced clean through where the brain would have been, the point of my arrow sticking out the other side of the dummy’s lumpy head.

“Marissa,” Papa said, his voice behind me filled with disappointment. I turned to meet his gaze, then let my eyes fall to the ground. 

“Don’t you understand that it’s my job to protect you? That everything I do, it’s for you? Why won’t you just listen to me? Why won’t you respect me?”

There wasn’t a hint of anger in his voice. I looked up to see his sad, tired eyes, his wiggling lip. Would my father actually cry? 

I was filled with shame. I dropped my bow and ran to him, feeling his shock and slight resistance as I threw my arms around him and cried. 

“It’s okay, little heart, it’s okay.” 

Papa rubbed my back while I cried, just like Mama used to do before they got her. 

“You just need to listen to me,” he whispered as I trembled. “The thaw is coming and you are a big girl now. Eight years old! If you listen, I can teach you to protect yourself.”

“In case anything happens to you, right?”

“That’s right, little heart, that’s right.”

For the Scriptic prompt exchange this week, Grace O'Malley gave me this prompt: Aim right for the center.. I gave kgwaite this prompt: Write about the birth of something.

I stewed over this prompt, and then finally wrote the first thing that came to mind just before the link up deadline. Who the hell knows who these people are? Sometimes writing things is a complete mystery to me, and this mystery is part of what I love so much about it.

Thoughts on Judgement

I have been writing a lot of poems lately, scribbling in my notebook, clickety clacketing my day away at the keyboard, just spilling words. I get that now, the term 'spilled ink' that is used on the internet for words and poems that are given away like these little gifts. My spilled ink comes whether I want it to, whenever it wants to now.


There are some memories that I am scared of losing, ones that I want to preserve. I am afraid that if I don't write about them when they are clear in my head, though the moments are already years in the past, they will be lost to me forever. Not just muddled and faded and uncertain, but completely gone, and I do not find that acceptable. So the words come and I write them down because I have to, and this is the first time that I have ever felt like I have to do it. I have to get these things out, I don't want to keep them inside any longer. 

Coincidentally, I have to keep reminding myself that my thoughts matter. These memories matter to me, these words matter to me. I have to keep reminding myself that whether the words matter to others is of no consequence and should not - cannot - dictate what I do with them. 

I try so hard to tell myself that I don't care what other people think of me.

But of course I do.


I want to be one of those people who just doesn't give a fuck. It seems like it must be so easy, life, for people who let negativity roll away off their backs. And not just negativity, because negativity is negotiable. I can take your negativity and compartmentalize it and explain it away that it's your problem, no matter how annoying it is. 

It's judgement that is the problem. 

I want to show up and open my mouth and be known, and not give a fuck if you reject me. 

Who can do that, though? Can you?

Boom. Born.

Newborn babies, the newest of new, the hours old - are magical creatures. When I hold them and feel them breathing in my hands, I can't help but think that yesterday we didn't know who this person is.

Yesterday, Evan was still jammed up and and being squeezed in his mother's belly, preparing himself for the fight of his life, that first fight for freedom. Yesterday he didn't have a name, and we didn't know what color hair he has, and we didn't know that his little toes were going to be the most perfect things in the world for a moment of his birthday. Yes, there was a moment today that was all his.

He went from a person growing in a sea of mystery to a person known. In an instant. Born.

The Humming

Chris couldn’t sleep. He lay for hours next to Rachel, listening to her breathe and snort and snore while he just lay there staring at the ceiling praying that sleep would come, but it didn’t. He listened to rain pound on the roof and windows, listened to the ticking of the clock and wondered how much longer he would have to suffer through the night, but he just couldn’t take it anymore. He couldn’t wait any longer.

Chris peeled off the sheet and slipped out of the bed so he wouldn’t wake his girlfriend and then he crept into the living room, shutting the door behind him. He stood there for a moment in the dark, waiting, listening for Rachel stirring in the bed, but everything was silent so Chris moved across the room and into the kitchen where he turned on a light and then went straight for his backpack.

He grabbed the pack, it was still soaked from when he was out in the rain earlier, and lifted it from the kitchen chair. Immediately Chris felt something strange in his hand, a feeling, more like a sensation of a low vibration. It was what was in his pack that was doing it, Chris knew. He had to open the bag anyway.

His kitchen table was a mess, not to mention a window into the life of a man who was himself a thorough mess.  He brushed away cigarettes that had fallen out of the ashtray and relocated a stack of CDs and his collection of pills to the counter behind him before placing the backpack on the table. He sat in front of it, watching it, readying himself to open it. There was a bottle of bourbon on the table and Chris took a long gulp and then slammed the bottle down. He ripped open the zipper like it was tape over his mouth, quick and violent and with courage.

The tesseract bounced out of the bag, and Chris’s hand shot out and grabbed it from the air. He balked at himself. His hand felt like it had moved on its own accord. Certainly he didn’t want to be touching this thing, Chris thought to himself, yet he clutched it in his bare hands and stared into its depths, the brilliant cube that expanded infinitely inward inside itself, glowing. 

Now that he was home, now that he wasn’t running for his life, Chris could get a good look - and feel - of the thing. Its size was deceptive: it fit into Chris’s palm, it was maybe three inches square on each side, but he guessed that the thing weighed almost two pounds. 

The tesseract thrummed in his hand. Again, he was hesitant to think of it as a vibration. He remembered last week, having sex with Rachel while they were hiding in someone’s bedroom at a party they went to. He had put his hand over Rachel’s mouth to dampen her groans, and that’s what the tesseract’s vibration reminded him of - a humming. But it wasn’t just that either, was it? Because it felt warm, too, and alive. It felt very nearly like it was breathing.

Chris held it up and squinted at the cube. It was dirty, the revolving colored glow was muted and not nearly as brilliant. He grabbed a box of tissues that was buried on the table and gently wiped the cube, turning it in his hand and noticing for the first time that the tesseract wasn’t completely clear. Where the vertices of the cubes met, there were what looked like minuscule, practically microscopic blue stones. 

Sapphire? he thought. What the hell is this thing?

Chris didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know whether he should tell anyone about this or just keep it to himself. But how could he keep it to himself? Of course no one believed him when he told people that he’d seen lights in the sky the other day. They all thought he was drunk, which he was, of course, but that didn’t matter. He wasn’t drunk when he had seen them again tonight, and he thought he had seen what was making them, too. 

He had run so fast into the woods when he first saw the flashing in the sky. He wanted to prove it to himself that he wasn’t crazy, that something was really going on out there. The rain had been pouring, there were flashes of lightening and claps of thunder, and then he had seen it, this tiny glowing thing dropping out of thin air - the tesseract.

He had run to it, and when he reached the spot where it had landed he could have sworn that when he looked up through the tree canopy he wasn’t seeing a clouded sky, he was seeing something big and metal, and blocking out the clouds and stars and whole wide rest of the world. 

So he had run back the way he’d come, cutting a serpentine path through the woods, dodging rocks and branches and the deadfalls, he’d run home with the thing strapped to his back, and now, what?

What was he going to do with it?

The tesseract hummed and glowed, and Chris was so very afraid. 

For the Scriptic prompt exchange this week, Anna N. Mouse gave me this prompt: Use these words in your story: A box of tissues, cigarettes, bourbon, a stack of CDs, serpentine, sapphire, pills..  (You can find the words bolded in my response.)

I gave Barb Black this prompt: Start your piece with this line: 'It was bad enough just being in the basement, but then of course there were rats."


I want to thank Anna for the most challenging and one of the most fun writing challenges I've ever done. Her prompt, to add a bunch of random words, was HARD. Good thing I find the hard challenges to be the most rewarding in the end. This was really fun to write.

This piece is also an immediate follow up to a scene I wrote for Write on Edge last week. If you are interested in reading more about Chris you can read The Tesseract, short and sweet at around 500 words.

Bobcat & Other Stories

It came to my attention today that a book that I read an ARC of a few months ago was released this week and I never reviewed it. There was a time that I wrote about each book I finished - I don't know that I even want to call what I do "book reviewing" because I feel like I totally suck at doing it in any sort of professional way, but still. I am a writer and I feel like it's my duty to review the books I read because it's going to be so important for people to do that for my books once they are published.

Unfortunately, the problem is like I said, it's been months since I've read this book and a lot of other great books that deserve my time and thoughts of reflection and recommendation, so I am going to try to do my best to catch up on some of the 26 books I've already read this year.

From Goodreads: At turns heartbreaking and wise, tender and wry, Bobcat and Other Storiesestablishes Rebecca Lee as one of the most powerful and original voices in Canadian literature.

A university student on her summer abroad is offered the unusual task of arranging a friend's marriage. Secret infidelities and one guest's dubious bobcat-related injury propel a Manhattan dinner party to its unexpected conclusion. Students at an elite architecture retreat seek the wisdom of their revered mentor but end up learning more about themselves and one another than about their shared craft. In these acutely observed and scaldingly honest stories Lee gives us characters who are complex and flawed, cracking open their fragile beliefs and exposing the paradoxes that lie within their romantic and intellectual pursuits. 

Whether they're in the countryside of the American Midwest, on a dusty prairie road in Saskatchewan, or among the skyscrapers and voluptuous hills of Hong Kong, the terrain is never as difficult to navigate as their own histories and desires. 

Thank goodness for Goodreads, because now I remember a little more about reading this book and what I thought of it.

I remember that at the time I picked up this ARC from Monte Cristo, I was in the mood for short stories. I do love short stories, but I am often frustrated with them and annoyed by them because I am so bad at writing them myself. I can write flash fiction until the cows come home, but get me to write a coherent short story with all the parts and not let it balloon to novella length? Yeah right.

Anyway, what I remember about Rebecca Lee's stories was how I felt about the characters, and how I could picture myself in their shoes, and in doing so I realized how messed up the situations were that the characters were in. I remember one story that was about a woman who traveled with a friend to help him and his father set him up an arranged marriage, and another story, the first in the book, that involved every relationship unraveling horribly at a dinner party. Each of the stories were subtly strange, and the ordinary situations seemed somehow extraordinary.

The writing was beautiful, the prose tight - there were no extra words that I remember, and it was anything but boring, which is sometimes the problem with books of short stories.

I would definitely recommend this to someone who likes short fiction that is sharp, current and normalish. Meaning, this book of stories was just straight up literary fiction, no horror or sci-fi or any of that stuff I usually like, so it was out of my normal comfort range. All the more reason to believe how much I liked this little book.

If you build it...

I find myself quoting that Kevin Costner movie Field of Dreams more than I probably should, since I only saw the movie once or twice when I was younger and don't really remember much of it at all. Except for its catch phrase, that I remember and think about and mention in conversation all the time. I heard it once in a movie and for some reason think it's true and it's something that you can live by.

If you build it they will come.

It doesn't even just apply to people, you know. It can apply to ideas, and words, and customers of bookstores. 

I thought about that phrase today when I opened up this Evernote file to write, because I want to write online every day and I've never been able to stick to the commitment before. 

This is me, always trying. 

It's an inconsequential goal, I know. I only want to challenge myself to write online daily. There is no pressure, there is no one to compete with except for myself. I got through over ninety days in the beginning of this year, and then just failed. I was mad at myself, let me tell you. 

See, I write every day, whether it be a blog post, a flash fiction, adding some words to a novel, or journaling in a moleskine. (I namedrop because I love.) 

But that doesn't mean I always write things worth reading, or even worth me remembering. 

Did I mention, here I am? Trying.


I'm having my friend Jill over tonight to watch a horror movie and crochet. I am almost done with the blanket that I am making now, which I believe I will give as a gift to someone soon. 

Crocheting is a great hobby for me, or for any writer who has terrible guilt for watching television. 

I always feel like kicking myself in the butt when I watch TV, it makes me feel lazy. Or at least, it used to, until I started crocheting when I watch TV. Then I stay productive, and in the end have things! Blankets! Towels!  YAY!

Suzy's Big Mistake

Suzy Brown was only five years old, she shouldn’t have been wandering off so far from the house and into the woods on her own at such a young age. It wasn’t that there were bad people around town or hobos in the woods that would prey on a young girl, and there hadn’t been sightings of any wild animals that could pose a danger this close to town and populated areas, but… 

Little children get lost in the woods. They wander off and get themselves all turned around and then they can’t figure out which path through the trees will bring them back home. Most of the time, if a kid gets lost in the woods, you send out a search party and you find them crying on a rock, hungry and scared. But sometimes you don’t. 

Suzy Brown wasn’t lost in the woods that day though, she knew exactly where she was going, to her special place in the woods where she stored all of her treasures. 

Little Suzy loved collecting rocks. She had done it for as long as anyone could remember in her short years, and as she got older her parents were delighted to find that her interest was genuine. Suzy asked for geology books for her fifth birthday, and her parents had surprised her with a trip to National History Museum, where she got to see all sorts of rocks. Rubies and diamonds and moonstone and even rocks from the moon. 

Her treasures were stored under a flat rock that sat between the base of two small trees. Suzy crouched down on the ground and looked over her shoulder in both directions, already at five years old she was sneaky and smart. Satisfied that no one was spying on her, she lifted the rock to reveal the hole she dug out between the trees that was filling up with all of the rocks she’d collected. Most of them were filled with shiny, but brittle pieces of mica, and some of them were dark red garnets she’d found near the stream. 

Suzy ran her hands over the rocks, picking some of them up for a moment to examine and then put them back down before covering up her secret treasure trove again. 

This was her habit, her ritual. First, Suzy would check to make sure that her hiding place had not been disturbed and that her rocks were all there, and then she would go out hunting for more. 

It was a nice warm day in spring, and Suzy headed farther away from her house and towards the stream where she found all the best of her treasures. The walk was much farther than Suzy’s parent’s liked, a good five minutes into the woods at a child’s brisk pace. It doesn’t sound far, and it never feels far to Suzy, but to a parent, a five minute jog is an uncomfortable distance away from your child.

This is why Suzy lied to her parents and always swore to them she never went anywhere near the stream. 

The only person who Suzy ever told the truth to about her adventures was her Papa. He had been delighted when Suzy told him that she’d found rubies in the stream, and Papa had thrown back his head and laughed and told her that they were really garnets, a common stone. 

“But they are beautiful, Papa,” she’d whined, and he laughed at her again. 

“Yes they are, precious.”

Suzy’s Papa died last month of the cancer. She missed him terribly, missed being able to tell him about her adventures, but for some reason losing her Papa had only made Suzy feel even more adventurous.

Suzy skipped through the woods, brushing her hands over the tops of the tallest ferns that she passed on the path that she had made through the woods to the stream all on her own. Another thing her parents would be horrified to find out, that their daughter had defied them so often, she’d beaten a well worn path of lies.

The sound of water babbling over rocks came to Suzy before she saw the stream through the trees. She sped up, but then came to a stumbling halt about twenty feet from the stream when the ground in her path seemed to rise up in front of her and block her way, a wall of dirt about a foot and a half high and just as wide.

Suzy skirted the edge of this wall, slowly, but with more fascination and wonder than confusion. She faced the other side of the wall and saw that a bowl shaped impression had been ground into the earth, the displaced dirt curving up from the ground to form the little wall of dirt that had startled her. Turning her head, Suzy saw that a ragged path in the dirt was cut over her own, with little waves of dirt marking its straight edges as it went directly into the stream and stopped. 

She walked the length of the path, noticing how hard the earth was packed down by whatever it was that had made these marks. She thought it looked like someone had dropped a bowling ball from an airplane and it had rolled down her path and into her stream.

Suzy peered into the water, watching a leaf ride the current toward her and then into the mouth of carved path that had cut into the side of the stream bed and let the water rise past its banks. 

Suzy searched the water and the stream banks, not knowing what she was looking for at all, but she knew something had made that cut in the earth and that something ended up in the water, because that is where the path had come to its end.

Suzy walked along downstream, following the current. She didn’t want to cross to the other side and risk getting wet, but this side of the bank was covered in thickets of ferns and low bushes that tangled her ankles, and then she had beat her way through a forsythia bush and came out the other side covered in little yellow petals. She smiled looking down at herself, and didn’t bother trying to shake the petals away.

It was after this emergence that she saw something glinting in the stream. The sun was coming in a beam through the green canopy and reflecting off something black and shiny that was spinning in the water.

Suzy ran to the edge of the water and plopped down on her knees, leaning over to get a closer look. It was about the size of a bowling ball, just as she had thought (Suzy was such a smart girl), but it wasn’t smooth at all. It was rough and jagged, not completely round because there were jagged little knobs sticking out in places. It looked to Suzy like a volcanic rock, except it was not as porous, and it was jet black and gleaming, the water giving it a brilliant dark shine, but Suzy could still tell that the surface was rough and would probably feel like sandpaper to touch. 

The rock was spinning in the stream, caught between the edge of the bank and a tangle of branches that had fallen into the water, making a dam and keep it from floating any farther downstream. 

It never occurred to Suzy that rocks don’t float in streams, and this is why children should never wander off into the woods by themselves. 

It is clear what had happened. Something fell from the sky, the force of its impact sent it careening into a neighboring stream where it traveled down a few dozen yards and was caught for an unsuspecting five year old to find. 

It would have been clear to Suzy’s parents that the best case scenario would be that what Suzy was pulling out of the stream had been dumped from the toilet of a passing airplane. If adults had come upon this sham of a rock, floating and spinning in a stream, they may have been smart enough to call in some authorities to deal with whatever it was.  But of course there was no way for little Suzy to realize the enormity of what she had done when she carried that black rock back to her treasure trove, and upon reaching her stash, decided that this rock seemed to special to leave outside. 

So she took it with her into her house and into her bedroom, where only a few hours later when Suzy was back outside playing with her dog, the rock began to hum. 

And then it cracked open. 

This piece was written using the Studio 30+ Writing Community's weekly writing prompt, which was to use the word 'Papa' and/or 'enormity.' I used both.

I think at this point I should admit to myself that the three pieces I wrote for prompt challenges this week are shaping up to be something a little more than just three characters dealing with creepy things out in the woods.

I mentioned the other day that I have been feeling strangely quiet, and yet I've also been having really good writing days. I am finding that when I sit down and put my fingers on the keyboard, they just start to GO. What a wonderful, refreshing change that is.

Little Brat Demons

Last week I started taking some new medications to try to relieve some anxiety and already I am feeling a positive change in myself - a lightening, a quickening.

Let me just say here, I never expected to want so badly to share my experiences in dealing with depression & anxiety. In fact, in the beginning I completely withdrew into myself, sought the comfort of only my family and was resistant to speaking with friends.

Then, I left friends. Broke up with some like I'm a mean junior high girlfriend. Dumped my best. Moved on, lighter, freer. Happier?

It's still hard to say.

I have been going to sleep earlier and waking up earlier, with more energy. I have been writing more and reading more. Everything has been MORE except for the things I want to be less. So overall, it seems like things are working.

Yesterday Chana came over for lunch and I kept apologizing to her because I found myself to be too quiet, boring even. I simply did not have anything to say, and so I refrained from making small talk to fill up our little silences.

"I feel quiet," I told her.

Usually, at any given moment even though my mouth may be silent, my brain is screaming on the inside.

What's going on? What do I have to do? Do I have to be somewhere? I have to go grocery shopping. Oh my god, I don't want to go grocery shopping, what if I freak out in the store again? Oh my god, but I don't have anything here to eat and I can't spend money eating out. Oh my god, I have no money, I'm so broke, I'm so fucked, I'm so hopelessincapableworthlessFUCKED. 

On the outside I'm trying so hard to keep smiling for you. On the inside I'm curled up in the corner of the room, shaking.

So why am I sharing this? Because it's so hard to believe that this happens to people. It's impossible to imagine what it feels like until it happens to you. You'll never understand losing your mind until you break down and lose your mind.

Drugs are great. Better living through chemicals and all that. But nothing has made me feel better than knowing I'm not the only one who has little brat demons in her head, fucking with me all the time.

The Tesseract

Chris sprinted through the woods, dodging trees and rocks and the deadfalls of old leaves he knew must be hiding out there. The rain stung his face. It was a hard, cold rain for so late in the spring, and he wiped his eyes again with the back of his hand, not as if it would do anything, but because it was habit. When you couldn't see, you tried as hard as you could to see.

In his left hand, Chris clutched his backpack by one shoulder strap. He had been too panicked to strap it to his back before he began running, and too panicked to stop. Occasionally as he ran, the backpack would jostle and slam against something, and Chris was caught between terror that what was in the bag would break, and equal terror that it wouldn't.

Finally he saw his garage through the trees. He had left a light on in one of the rooms above the garage where he lived, and it was a beacon guiding him home.

Chris sprang from the woods and beat feet to his door. He fumbled in his pocket for his keys, tried putting the key into the lock, and failed. He dropped them in a puddle of water at his doorstep.

"Oh, shit," he squealed. Frantic now, Chris dropped to his knees and plunged his shaking hands into the puddle to search for his keys and found them finally.

Standing to try again, Chris froze when he heard something behind him. The crack of a tree branch, perhaps? Something falling from a great height onto a rock, it could be...

But this time his key slid in and he turned the door handle and dashed inside.

Image courtesy of liam_101 via Flickr Creative Commons
He ran up the steep stairs to his filthy apartment, flipping on light switches as he went. In his kitchen, he slammed his bag down on the table that was covered with weeks worth of litter - old coffee cups, cigarette packs, the detritus of a lonely life, and he swept it all to the floor.

He opened the bag and dumped it out onto the table. The cause of all his miseries, the source of the lights.

It was a tesseract. Chris remembered what these were from high school physics class. A cube within a cube within a cube. It was built of what looked like glass, though it was lighter than glass and shimmered like a diamond as he watched with revulsion as the thing lit up his apartment with its sickening glow.


Chris's heart slammed in his chest. It was Rachel, in the bedroom. He had completely forgotten she was there.

"Baby what is that, what are you doing out there?"

For a moment he considered telling her everything. About the lights in the woods, about the dreams. But then the light changed again, from that vile green to the calm white, and he was filled with quietude.

Gently, he put the tesseract back into his bag and zipped it up.

"It's nothing, Rach. I'll be back to bed soon."


This was written for Write at the Merge Week 24 over at Write on Edge, which is becoming my favorite place to link up because it's not (yet?) a huge community. I don't feel lost there, is what I am saying.

The prompt this week was hard but it has inspired me big time. We were to use the image above, and the word "tesseract." Yes, I had to look that up on Google, and you should too.

She Saw the Light

Every muscle in her body was tensed and locked tight, her slim form straight and still under her bedsheet, which she had clutched in white knuckled fists under her nose. You couldn't tell if you looked at her, but she had part of that sheet balled up and crammed into her mouth to keep her from screaming.

It occurred to her though, perhaps screaming would have been the smart thing to do. Of course there was no one around to hear her, not unless there was someone out in the woods or walking past on the road, but since it was the middle of the night, that wouldn't be likely. If she screamed, though, it would at least mean that she was still alive. It would mean that she was actually there, at home in her bed, and this wasn't a nightmare she couldn't wake up from. 

Outside her window she saw the light again. It was pulsing, at first dim and then it grew with brilliance until it was almost as bright as the sunlight, but it came from the opposite direction, from below, not from above. Not to mention, the light changed color, alternating its pulses between a harsh white light, a cool calm blue, and an eerie green. 

What does this mean? She wondered. Are they only watching her, lurking out there in the woods? 

She could picture them among the trees, slim gray figures that shimmered and then blended in with their surroundings, becoming invisible before her eyes. 

That's why she cowered under her sheets, not bothering to look out her window. Even if they were there again, she might not be able to see them.

If they kept taking her away, she knew the day would come when eventually she would disappear, too. 

Once a girl who no one believed when she told them why she was scared of the dark. Then the girl who turned into a shadow. Then the girl who was gone. 

This was written for the Trifecta Writing Challenge - to write a 33-333 word piece of fiction using the third definition of the word 'light.'
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