Thursday, January 26, 2012

Two Penny Saga: That Jerk in the Bar

My friend, Fox, suggested this first line to me.  I wrote for five minutes.  This is what I got.  (If any of you have any more suggestions for prompts please let me know.)

Jackson wasn't sure about many things in life, but of this he was absolutely certain: he didn't like the cut of that Canadian's jib.

The guy had one of those faces where you just knew he was an asshole.  The fact that he had his arm around Jackson’s ex didn’t help either. 

Jackson pushed his way across the bar and shoved the Canadian in the shoulder.

“What?” the Canadian snapped. 

“You….that….”  Jackson was trying to form a straight thought but that last shot of Jagermeister was clogging his brain.  He finally managed to blurt, “I don’t like you!” 

“Fantastic.”  The Canadian said, drank his beer and squeezed Jackson’s ex even tighter. 

Jackson shoved him again.  “I really don’t like you!” 

“So what’re you gonna do about it, runt?” the Canadian snarled. 

“I’m gonna fight you!  Eh!”    

Twenty seconds later there was a maple leaf shaped gash in the middle of Jackson’s forehead and his friends were hauling him into the street.  “I’m gonna pound his ass all the way back to Juneau!”  Jackson screamed before passing out. 

His friends considered taking him to the hospital but remembered it was dollar shot night at the bar across the street.  They left Jackson in the parking lot figuring he would find his way home.

Around three in the morning, Jackson was found by a pair of girls who were a part of the same group as the Canadian.  They saw the maple leaf mark in his forehead and assumed he was the Canadian equivilent of Harry Potter. 

The next morning Jackson woke up in Montreal with a splitting headache and a gang of devoted followers.  Within a year thousands of people from across the world were coming to him to learn from his wisdom and hear tales of his battles against the evil moose sorcerer.  By the end of the decade his followers had reached the millions.   

And that is the story of how Jackson McDonald, a boy who didn’t even know what country Juneau was in, became the first and last wizard king of Canada. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Two Penny Sagas: Uncle Leo

My cousin, Karen, suggested this first line to me.  I wrote for five minutes.  This is what I got.  (If any of you have any more suggestions for prompts please let me know.) 

"Crap," I thought, as I broke off another toe.

“Dude!  Not again!”  My brother shouted. 

“Sweetie, be more careful with your uncle!”  Mom panted hoisting up his shoulders.  Uncle Leo had died right after the holiday season so his corpse weighed fifteen pounds more than it should have. 

Uncle Leo just moaned and strained against the straight jacket we’d kept him tied up in since he’d died and come back. 

“Sorry,” I mumbled and pocketed the toe.  “It was an accident.”

With a lot of panting and heaving we managed to haul Uncle Leo out of the basement and up into the den.  The worst part about having a dead relative was that we all had to get up ten minutes earlier every morning. 

After we placed Uncle Leo on the couch my brother checked the straight jacket, Mom placed a plate of raw meat next to him in case he got hungry and I put on a football game we had recorded on TiVo.

“We’re going out now!” Mom shouted at Uncle Leo.  “We’ll be back in the afternoon!  Be good!” 

Uncle Leo snarled at her.

“Mom we’re gonna be late for school!” My brother moaned. 

“Both of you give your uncle a kiss!”  Mom snapped. 

We groaned, and pecked him on the cheek before running out to the door.  Everyone at school thought that it was weird that we kept Uncle Leo around.  There were places where professionals could help people with his condition but Mom insisted that this was more humane. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Two Penny Saga: Big News

My friend, Mikey, suggested this first line to me.  I wrote for five minutes.  This is what I got.  (If any of you have any more suggestions for prompts please let me know.)

In one instant I became the second most important thing in my whole life. 
“Well?” my wife asked. “Aren’t you gonna say something?”
“Am I the father?”  I blurted out.
Her glass of ice water splashed my face.  “How can you even ask that?”  She snapped.  “What kind of insensitive jerk are you?”
I became painfully aware that patrons and waitresses throughout the diner were staring at us.
“Sorry.  I’m sorry!”  I spluttered wiping my face.  “I didn’t mean that.  I know I’m the father.  I just got excited.”
“Isn’t there something else you want to tell me?”
“I love you.”
“And I love this baby.  I’m going to be the best dad ever, I swear.”
She stared down at her lap.  “We need to talk about the future.”
“We’ll sell the apartment.  I’ll find a house in the suburbs with a great neighborhood and a fantastic school system.  When that baby arrives in nine months-.”
“It’ll be here in six weeks.”
“Wait, what?  How long have you been pregnant?”
“Less than a month.  As for moving, we’ll have to go somewhere isolated.  There can’t be any neighbors.  It would be best if the house had a really deep basement where the baby can dig tunnels and hunt rats when it gets hungry.”
“Honey!  Stop that!  Why are you talking about our baby like this?”
“Because children in our family always take after their mother.”

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Two Penny Saga: SURPRISE!

My friend, Chris, suggested this first line to me.  I wrote for five minutes.  This is what I got.  (If any of you have any more suggestions for prompts please let me know.) 

I learned on Tuesday just how vehemently my daughter hated butterflies.

June had broken up with her boyfriend, Ryan, the night before, but I had a surefire way to cheer her up. 

She was sound asleep when I crept up to her bed at seven in the morning and whispered, “Juuune!  It’s time to wake up!” 

My daughter stirred and mumbled something between snores.

“Open your eyes!  I have a surprise for you.”

June groaned and lifted her head.  Her eyes bolted open and her mouth dropped when she saw that I had filled her room with four thousand butterflies. 

“Do you like them?”  I asked, grinning.  “I thought they’d cheer you up!”

June pulled up her legs as a cluster of butterflies flew away.  “Mom!  This is weird!  What the hell is going on?”

My face dropped.  “You don’t like this?  I thought most girls loved butterflies.”

“Thank God you didn’t think I loved horses!  Get them out of here!”

“Well, here’s the thing.  I paid for these butterflies until noon so-.”

“Mom!  This is totally weird!  Get them out of my room!”

“Okay!  You don’t have to shout!”  I grabbed the net and began catching the butterflies so I could shove them back into the crate.  I didn’t know what I was going to do with them until noon.  Maybe I should take them over to Ryan’s house and try to cheer him up.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Two Penny Saga: Plummeting to the Ground

My friend, Heather, suggested this first line to me.  I wrote for five minutes.  This is what I got.  (If any of you have any more suggestions for prompts please let me know.) 

I learned 3 things as my plane crashed.

The first was that a seat belt on a crashing plane didn’t even provide the illusion of security. 

The second was that my big brother, Greg, could still scream like a little girl.

The third thing I learned, as the 747 nosedived toward the earth, was that I become very honest when I’m about to die. 


Greg stopped screaming and turned to me.

“You were taking Amy,” I stammered.  “And I was really jealous and I knew I could blame the dog so I drank all this Mountain Dew-.”

“I’m going to kill you!” Greg bellowed and grabbed me by the throat, strangling me.

I gasped for air and tried to beat him back while hoping that we would crash before he strangled me. 

But then, by some miracle, the plane righted itself and we were flying smoothly again. 

“Sorry about that folks,” the Pilot said over the intercom.  “We’ll be landing at the next available airport.”

Everyone on the plane sat up and looked around, amazed that they were still alive.  Greg and I stared at each other.  He slowly took his hands off my throat and leaned back.  We didn’t say another word to each other until we reached the family reunuion.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Two Penny Saga: Shawn

My cousin, Karen, suggested this first line to me.  I wrote for five minutes.  This is what I got.  (If any of you have any more suggestions for prompts please let me know.) 

It was four o'clock in the morning when Mary finished her research for the night. Just as she was about to log off, the message icon on her Facebook page lit up. Okay, one last message, she thought, as she reached to tap it open.

The message was from her old college buddy, Shawn.  “Hope everything is going well!  I recently moved to the area!  We should meet up!” 

Mary wrote back, “That would be fun!”

She was officially signing off for the evening when Shawn’s response popped up.  “You have a beautiful house.”

“Thanks!”  Mary wrote even though she didn’t think her profile picture did the house justice.

A third message: “It smells like you.” 

A cold sweat broke out over Mary’s skin. 

A fourth message: “Your bedroom’s a mess.”

Mary snapped her laptop shut.  She took a deep breath and told herself that this was when a smart person would shrug of the comments.  Shawn was just drunk and being a jerk as always. 

Mary looked for her cell phone to call her friend Stephanie, not because she was scared just because she liked waking up her friends at four in the morning.  Her cell phone was in the bedroom.

Stephanie flicked on her bedroom light and told herself that she wasn’t relieved that it was empty.  She snatched up her cell phone off the bed and was about to dial Stephanie’s number when she froze.  She wasn’t certain if she had left her desktop computer on but she was positive she hadn’t left her window open.  Mary opened her cell phone and tried to call Stephanie but couldn’t.  All of her contacts had been changed to “Shawn.”

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Two Penny Saga: The Woman on the Train

My cousin, Geoffrey, suggested this first line to me.  I wrote for five minutes.  This is what I got.  (If any of you have any more suggestions for prompts please let me know.) 

Dave woke up a few minutes before his stop. Bleary eyed, he looks across the short distance at the woman in the seat facing him. He couldn't help but notice that her head was ridiculously large. That or her body was ridiculously small. Either way, she looked ridiculous.

“Can I help you?” The woman asked, glaring at Dave across the subway.

“Sorry,”  Dave looked away.  “It’s your head.  Is there something wrong with it?”  As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he wanted to take them back. 

The woman sniffed and looked out the window.

“I didn’t mean it that way!”  Dave protested.  “I’ve had a really long day and-.”

“HEY!”  A little voice shouted. 

At first Dave assumed that the woman had a radio.  She hadn’t said anything but the voice had clearly come from her.  He was about to ask if she had heard it too when the woman’s ear swung out of her head.

Dave blinked, convinced that it was just the stress of the job affecting him.  When he looked again, though, Dave saw that woman’s ear had opened like a door.  A tiny purple old man with enormous ears was stepping out onto the woman’s shoulder. 

“What do you think you’re doing insulting my house like that?” the man squeaked. 

“I-.”  David stammered.

“How would you like it if I said your hose had a weird head?”  The tiny man turned back to the woman.  “Did he insult you?”  The woman nodded pitifully.  “I’m sorry!”  He tugged on her red hair.  “Later today I can trim your hedges.  Would you like that?”

The woman grinned. 

The man touched one of the moles on the side of her cheek.  “I need to have the painter come by and take a look at this.”  He walked back inside the woman’s head, and slammed her ear shut.  Dave could hear him inside the woman’s skull cleaning dishes and humming to himself. 

From that day on Dave took the bus home.   

Monday, January 2, 2012

Why you write every day

So I have pneumonia.  Don’t worry, it’s not that serious.  I’ve had it for about a week now and even though I still get lightheaded my doctor seems to think I’ll be back to my usual self within a few days. 

Honestly, the most frustrating part is I haven't been able to write as much as I usually do. Normally, I try to write or edit at least a chapter a day.  However, when I’m sick this hardly ever works out.  I grab my notebook or bring up a new document in Microsoft Word, pumped up and ready to go, and then creativity falls flat on its face. 

In the past week I have managed a little bit of outlining (which does not count as writing) and I have started editing a novella I am writing for my fiancĂ©.  However, these were done in spurts, with many false starts and I lack my usual spark.  What I have written is considerably weaker than usual output. 

Granted, a week is not that terribly long, but whenever you ask published novelists “what advice do you have for aspiring writers?” they usually answer with something like, “Write!  Write every day.” 

The most obvious reason for this advice is that if you write every day you will produce a high quantity of work.  However, there is also an underlying reason.  If you don’t write every day you lose momentum.  Storytelling becomes a hobby instead of a requirement.  It gets harder to pick up the pen/laptop again and worst of all you start to wonder, “Who will ever want to read a novel about a (insert protagonist) battling a (insert antagonist) over a (insert mcguffin).

This week I experienced first hand the underlying affects of not writing every day.  When I have been feeling well enough to write it is hard to motivate myself, and I have been questioning my work.  Even worse, when I don’t express myself creatively I get moody and depressed (sorry family and loved ones!).  I mean, I have a good excuse for not writing, I have !@#$ing pneumonia!  At least I haven’t been healthy but watching Hulu all week.   

Still, even after I get better it'll take a while for the creativity hamster to hop back on his wheel and it's going to take even longer to catch up. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Two Penny Saga: The General Store

My fiance, Kimmy, suggested this first line to me.  I wrote for five minutes.  This is what I got.  (If you have any suggestions for prompts let me know.)  

I went to the store with fifty cents in my pocket.

The old man behind the counter had two spectacles precariously balanced on a nose that made him look like a vulture.  He looked me up and down.  “We don’t have anything here you can afford,” he croaked. 

“I just want to browse,” I said examining his dusty store. 

“If you’re not gonna buy anything you might as well leave!” 

Ignoring him, I walked to the back of the shop and could feel his icy glare following me.  I found a grimy shelf labeled “DREAMS.”  Beneath it were mason jars filled with swirling colorful mist.  Labeled on the jars were things like, “Falling-$17.99,”  “Being Chased by Wolves-$6.50,” “Flying-$30.95,” “Finding the Love of your Life-$99.99”

I tossed my two quarters up in the air and caught them.

The old man sniffed, “If that’s all you got you might as well run back to your hovel! We’ve got nothing for you here!”        

The next shelf was filled with jars that were labeled with things like, “Justice: Granted-$500.00” and “Justice Not Granted – $1.00.”  It seemed that I was too poor to not even afford injustice. 

There were also jars in the store that read, “Heartache-$0.75,”  “Tears-$2.75,” “Revenge -50.00,” and “Adventure-$1,000.00”

“Alright!”  The old man snarled.  “Tour time is over.  Get your filthy rags out of here before I call the orphanage!” 

It was then that I found a solitary shelf with a sign that read, “One time only 90% off sale!”  There was a single jar on the shelf.  It was filled with coal colored powder and had a label that read, “Bad Luck-5.00.”

I grabbed the jar and walked up to the counter.  “I found something I can afford!”  The man looked over the jar, examined the sale sign twice to make sure it was accurate and finally took my two quarters while grumbling under his breath. 

As I left the store I opened up the jar and sprinkled the contents on the floor.  I was halfway down the sidewalk when I heard an explosion.  It sounded like every shelf in the store had broken at once and was soon joined by the old man screaming.