July CampNaNo here I come!

Good Tuesday morning! At least, that is when I am writing this here blog entry. We will see when this one gets published. Likely, this entire intro is going to be deleted. I am kind of blathering on just to blather on and to kill a monster. What is this ginger talking about? Well, I have gotten some free time on my 4thwords account once more, and so as I write, I also do battles with monsters. I finish quests. I pew pew to victory with words. Thus the rambling right now, but I also think that rambling like this helps to get the juices flowing some, yanno? Writing anything even if you have to trash most of it before publishing (whatever form of publishing you do) just helps break the dams, you know? The creative blockages that might be in your head. Or I’m just babbling like an idiot for the fun of it. Who the hell knows. Not me!


Anyway, I am going to blather about my CampNaNoWriMo project a bit more. Or more accurately, babble about it a bit more. CampNaNo starts on July 1st (Thursday! Very convenient for my streaming schedule) and I have the vaguest of story ideas. A feeling for the novel that I am going to write. I want to explore friendship of people in their thirties. Where you have careers, children, and other things in life getting in the way. I want to explore how there isn’t just one way of adulthood. The characters in my book will hopefully be unique but relatable. And it isn’t just human characters that I am working with. Oh, no no no. The Renaissance Festival will also be a character. Because my characters love to go there. My characters are straight up nerds with far more talent than I have.

The main character is named Dylan. She is in her mid-to-late thirties. She is a ginger because I am one of those authors. But I also truly believe more protagonists should be redheads. She is far more of a badass than I am. She is a blacksmith on the side and sells her weapons and wares at the Renaissance Festival. She is strong in body and mind. Stronger than I have ever been. And she makes really cool weapons. She has a forge in her garage, a small thing, but it gets the job done. She works for a living in an office, but in her free time, she gets all sweaty in her garage and makes daggers. She also makes her own costumes that she wears to the Ren Fest.

I love her. I probably want to be her to some extent.

Her best friend in the world is Georgia Monroe. George is more outspoken than Dylan and they became fast friends in middle or elementary school when they realized their names made most people think they were boys. George has a wife named Tallulah, and two kids. She and her wife met at the Ren Fest, and it is a cute story, but one that won’t feature in the novel as this novel takes place probably ten or twelve years after they met. But it is a very cute story if I say so myself. Involves a wild toddler and a collision. Plus, later on, a horse dressed up as a unicorn.

There will be other characters as well. Friends and former lovers. Coworkers that are slowly bridging the gap from just-at-work friends to out in the real world. There will be vendors selling pickles and other food. Tomatoes being tossed at a professional heckler. Amazing weapons and not-so-amazing weapons. Delicious food. Good drinks. Merriment and struggle. Angst and anger. Basically, if you can name an emotion, then I hope to have it in some form in this novel. I just want to explore the many kinds of love and relationships there are in the world. I want to show that just because you reach certain ages; it does not mean that you have to give up on your hobbies and passions. That sometimes it is incredibly hard to do it all, but sometimes, it’s worth it. Other times, you need a damn break. Basically, I want to explore adulthood and humanity and somehow make it interesting.

All with the Ren Fest as a backdrop because I really missed it last year. It will probably turn into a rambling slice of life monstrosity that will need a lot of effort to rework in later drafts, but overall, I am very excited to try it. I usually fail CampNaNoWriMo even with giving myself lower word count goals. I can often eke out the 50k needed for NaNoWriMo in November, but there is something about April and July that causes me to struggle or give up. I am keeping my fingers crossed I finish the word count goal and yanno what? FINISH THE NOVEL TOO. That’s a goal, but not necessarily the goal of Camp for me. I am aiming for 35k, and we’ll see if I make it.

Do you participate in CampNaNo? What are your goals for it if you are? Lemme know what you are working on if you are working on anything, and I hope y’all have good days!

The Wind

The Wind

I decided to write a story for my husband for father’s day. I knew I wanted to write a scary story. I tried to write one about a demon cat, and it wasn’t flowing. Then I remembered a misunderstanding that sprang up during a recording of our podcast (Creepy Cabin Podcast) and this story was born. Overall, I’m happy with it. There are flaws and I know I could write better if I had given myself more time with it, but I’m still proud of it. I hope you enjoy it!

It was a bright and sunny day. The children of the neighborhood were out playing in full force. Their shouts of glee and screams of laughter could be heard in most houses. Nearly everyone had their windows open; it was the first truly nice day of the year. The long winter was ending. The snow had melted, leaving puddles of mud in its wake. Parents were seated outside, enjoying the fresh air as their children ran amok. Birds and other critters were chirping and chittering. It was a cacophony of noise, but the kind that makes people smile because finally the gray of the winter is dissipating, being warmed by the rays of a sun that really wants to show off.

It is joyful.

Until suddenly it all stops. The movement of children chasing each other, the cries of their voices, the noise of the animals. The chatter of parents who aren’t scrolling mindlessly through their phones. And even that movement stops. Everything is frozen beneath the sun — a sun that is still shining brightly — and everything is silent save for a scream on the wind.

Then movement begins and the sound resumes. There’s an odd feeling lingering over everyone’s shoulder, but no one recalls hearing the scream. No one recalls being frozen. Something is wrong, but no one knows what. They shake off that feeling because it’s nice out. Winter might well truly be on the way out, and if it isn’t, then none of these people or animals wish to be fools and waste the warmth and joy of it.

They shake the feeling off and move on.

A breeze rustles the trees and no one notices.                                                                           

Jeremiah has the house to himself. It is a rare occurrence. The house is usually filled to the brim with people. Bursting with too many bodies and too much noise. He knows he is being uncharitable. His foster family is nice. This is also the nicest home he has been in. But with the amount of people in the house, it feels almost like a group home. Someone is always nearby, and while everyone seems nice enough, it feels like too much for Jeremiah. The weight of expectation on his shoulders. He doesn’t like feeling the pressure to be on at all times


But being in the house alone is nice.


The windows are open, and he is sitting at the desk in the bedroom. He shares it with another boy by the name of Nev. Nev is almost always in the room and at the desk. His shoulders hunched over his battered notebook. It usually forces Jeremiah to do his homework on his bed, or downstairs on the kitchen table, surrounded by the other kids. Most are younger than him, and they always need his help, and it’s hard to focus. Jeremiah isn’t sure how he feels about being at the desk. He’s long coveted it, but now that he has it, it feels wrong. Like he is invading Nev’s space.

Jeremiah sighs, staring at his homework. It’s math, and he enjoys math. Numbers can’t lie and once a person understands the rules behind whatever math they are doing, it’s easy. He doesn’t think he has fun in doing math, but he does like it all the same. He enjoys the predictability. But he is finding it difficult to concentrate today. He shifts his gaze to look out the window.

There’s a large tree near it. Sometimes, the wind will blow the branches and they will scrap against the window. Jeremiah remembers fearing that noise the first few times he heard it. But he’s grown accustomed to it now. The branches don’t even look long enough to reach the window now that he’s staring at them. Jeremiah frowns and then forces himself to look away from the tree.

He hears a baby screaming in the distance.

He shivers at the noise and tries to fight the onslaught of memories. He wonders what neighbor has a new baby and if their windows are open too.

Then he hears a dog barking.

And notices the branches of the tree rustling near his window, but not against it. He thinks he hears them scraping against the glass, which confuses him, but he doesn’t have time to dwell. Nev comes in, and even though he doesn’t ask for the desk back, Jeremiah gets up and lets him take it.

“There was a murder in this house,” Claire is saying. Jeremiah is only half listening. Claire likes to tell stories all the time.  

“They say it’s haunted by the murdered kids.”

Nev grunts in response. Jeremiah always thought of himself as quiet, but Nev is the champion of quiet. He communicates mostly with grunts and shrugs.

“Ghosts aren’t real,” Jeremiah says, but his mind goes to the branches of the tree. That’s not a ghost thing, he is certain of it, but it is weird.

“There was still a murder here. Some guy went crazy and killed everyone in the house. Then he killed himself. There was a lot of blood. The family was dismembered. He shot his own brains out.”

Claire likes to go into detail about anything she shares. Jeremiah pales as the image she describes springs into his mind. He feels sick to his stomach. He doesn’t want to believe what he is hearing, but Claire has a way of making you believe her words.

“How do you know all of this?” He asks.

Claire shrugs, “Steve told me. It’s how he and Erin got the house for cheap. No one else wanted it.”

“How long ago did it happen?” Nev asks, and Claire stares at him. Jeremiah is staring too, but he drops his gaze quicker than Claire.

“Not sure. Ten or twenty years ago? Other people have owned it since, but no one sticks around. We’ve been here the longest.”

“Have you witnessed anything strange?” Jeremiah asks, knowing that Claire has lived with Steve and Erin for a couple years now. He doesn’t know if they’ve been in this house the whole time or not.

Claire shakes her head.

“Nothing weird at all.” And all Jeremiah notices is the disappointment in her voice.

A baby is screaming in the wind again. Jeremiah’s eyes open wide in the dark. The branches of the tree are scrapping against the window again. He hears a yowling sound he thinks might be a dog, but it sounds too close and none of his immediate neighbors have dogs.

He sees Nev sit up in bed and stare out the window.

The baby stops screaming, and the yowling stops too.

The wind picks up in ferocity. The scrapping on the window grows louder and louder.

Jeremiah and Nev just stare at each other. Eyes wide in fear.

Just as suddenly as it started, it ends.

Nev shakes his head and says nothing as he settles back into bed.

Jeremiah’s heart is thudding in his chest and he keeps hearing Claire’s voice in his head. The entire family had been dismembered.

He doesn’t sleep again that night.

Jeremiah has the house to himself once more. It doesn’t feel as freeing as it did the first time. He’s got a baseball bat in hand, but he isn’t sure what he is going to do with it. He hears the baby cry on the wind. In the wind? He’s certain the baby isn’t real.

He squares up his shoulders and grips the bat tightly in hands that are sweaty; he goes outside. The back door lets out a loud SQUEAK that causes him to wince. It isn’t dark out. Isn’t even near dark yet. He walks towards the tree, knuckles white as he clenches the bat.

“I know you are out there,” he whispers. His face a burning hot and red now. He tries to stave off the embarrassment he feels by kicking the tree with his foot. It hurts and intensifies the embarrassed feeling.

“What are you?” He asks, and then he hears a yowling of a dog. Right behind him. Terrified, Jeremiah spins on the spot and sees nothing.

He hears laughter in the wind.

He squints at the tree. The branches seem to wave at him, and not in a friendly way. They are taunting him.

“It’s the wind,” he says. Breathless. “Not the tre—…”

The wind picks up. The baby screaming is in his ears now. So loud that he drops his bat to slap his hands over his ears. He drops to his knees. Heart racing in terror and eyes stinging with tears.

The wind whips around him and he hears more sounds; a car backfiring, the scrape of a window, the laughter of children, the bark of a dog, the shout of a woman, and crying. He doesn’t know how long it lasts. The wind is a frenzy around him, and then suddenly it all stops.

Jeremiah stays on the ground. Cheeks slick with tears. Heart trying to burst out of his chest.

“What do you want?” Claire asks and Jeremiah startles.


“You have been staring at me for the last ten minutes. Out with it,” Claire says, shrugging her shoulders. Jeremiah scowls at that, but he can’t deny it. He’s been trying to build up the courage to talk to her. To bring up what is on his mind. He figures he has about a fifty-fifty chance of Claire believing him or ridiculing him for it. He takes a deep breath. It doesn’t steady him.

Claire continues to stare at him. He wonders — and not for the first time — if she can read his thoughts, or see into his soul. It doesn’t help with his anxiety around her.

“Do you know anything about wind creatures?” He spits out, finally.

Claire says nothing. He can’t read her expression.

“No, why?” She says, but she doesn’t seem to be making fun of him.

“Remember that story you told Nev and me? About the guy who killed his family?”


“Well. What if the guy was innocent? What if it was some… like… monster?” Jeremiah feels himself losing what little confidence he had as he talks longer. His shoulders sag.

“You don’t believe in ghosts but you believe in monsters?” Claire asks, her brow jutting up.


“Nev might know. He’s into that stuff,” Claire says, and she heads up the stairs.

Jeremiah watches her, confused, before he runs after her.

“Nev, do you know anything about wind creatures? Jeremiah wants to know.” Claire asks, leaving the bedroom door wide open as she flounces into the room. She plops down on Nev’s bed. Nev, once more, is at the desk. He frowns, looking up from his notebook.

“You hear it too?” He asks, not looking at Claire. He’s staring at Jeremiah.

Jeremiah feels his cheeks burning. He doesn’t like to be looked at, “I guess?”

“I’ve been researching it,” Nev says, and he looks down at his notebook. “Haven’t been able to find much. There’s…” Nev pauses here, frowning. “Accounts that sound like what I’ve heard, but no one has a name to it.”

Claire is looking between Nev and Jeremiah.

“What?” she asks.

“There’s something that lives in the wind.” Nev says.

“It attacked me,” Jeremiah says.

“What?” Nev and Claire ask at the same time.

Jeremiah sighs and tries to calm himself so that he can speak.

“It was a couple of days ago. I went outside with a bat. I thought it was the tree.”

“You were going to fight a tree with a bat?” Claire asks, and Jeremiah can hear how stupid she thinks he is.

“I wasn’t thinking clearly,” Jeremiah mutters, before continuing on. “But it isn’t the tree. The wind.. It like… was taunting me. Yelling at me. It can sound like anything…” Jeremiah explains, but he doesn’t sound as sure of himself as he should.

“It mimics what it’s heard before,” Nev adds, before looking down at his notebook. He pushes his ill-fitting glasses up the bridge of his nose. Jeremiah has noticed that Nev’s glasses are always slipping down. “At least, that is my hypothesis from what I’ve read and my own… experiments.”

“Your what?” Claire asks, sounding both impressed and maybe horrified.

“I…” Nev looks nervous.

Claire is studying him intently. Jeremiah really believes she can read minds. If wind monsters are real, why can’t a foster kid have the ability to read minds?

“Holy shit,” Claire says, and then she is laughing.

“What is funny?” Jeremiah asks.

Nev won’t look at him. His face is red. He’s clearly embarrassed, and Claire is still laughing.

Claire stops laughing and Jeremiah is unsurprised to see tears in her eyes. She calms down enough to talk.

“It was before you got here,” Claire explains, the ghost of her laughter still in her voice. “And Nev tortured Damon by playing Taylor Swift on repeat. I thought you just did that because the guy was an ass.”

Nev shrugs. “It was mostly for scientific reasons. And, maybe because he was an ass too.”

Jeremiah shakes his head. He never met Damon, but the other kids talk about him in whispers sometimes.

“But the wind started mimicking her songs. The singing, the instruments… all of it. Never together. Just… snippets of it.”

“Okay, so there’s a wind monster. What do we do about it?” Claire asks, she’s flopped back onto the bed and is staring up at the ceiling.

Jeremiah doesn’t know. He looks to Nev, who also looks as if he has no solid ideas.

It is a few days later. Nev, Claire, and Jeremiah are skipping school. Jeremiah has never skipped a day in his life. He doesn’t enjoy drawing attention to himself and he thinks that skipping will make people notice him. At least the teachers and other adults at the high school. Claire told him not to worry about it, and Nev didn’t seem anxious either.

The neighborhood seems unusually quiet as they walk through it. Everyone is at work or at school. It makes Jeremiah even more convinced that he is doing something wrong. He wonders if there are any retired people staring at them through their curtains. Calling the authorities on them. Jeremiah doesn’t want to get into any trouble. He hates the way his heart is racing.

“It’s going to be fine,” Claire says.

“Maybe,” Nev adds. Nev has been talking a lot more now. “But probably not because we could be about to meet a deadly creature.”

“It’s wind,” Claire points out. “How can wind be deadly?”

“Have you heard of hurricanes before? Tornadoes?” Nev asks.

Jeremiah focuses on the conversation happening next to him. Somehow the prospect of facing a deadly wind creature is less anxiety inducing than being chased down by authority figures who are against truancy.

They make it to the house without getting caught. Claire has a key, and she unlocks the front door. They quietly go up to their rooms. Claire down the hall, last door on the right. Nev and Jeremiah on the left. They drop off their backpacks. There is tension in the air.

“This plan is stupid, isn’t it?” Jeremiah asks in order to break it.

“Probably, but we couldn’t come up with anything better.”

It isn’t comforting, but Jeremiah isn’t too sure what he expected.

“Boys, let’s go!” Claire shouts down the hall.

Jeremiah tries to will himself to be brave. Mostly, though, he is trying his damnedest to not shit his pants. He wonders, a little hysterically, if the wind monster will mimic his pant shitting. He doesn’t quite know how that will work.

Nev leads the way out of the bedroom with Jeremiah trailing behind him. He makes the mistake of looking out the window and he notices the tree branches waving at him. He shudders.

Without speaking, the three teenagers make their way down the stairs and out to the backyard, the SQUEAK of the door following behind. There’s a gentle breeze blowing. Jeremiah can feel it in his hair. Claire is standing there with what looks like a dagger in her hands.

“Where’d you get that?” He asks.

“Found it at a garage sale. That guy with the broken boat in his yard? He sold it to me.”

“Nice,” Nev says. Nev has what looks like a radio tethered to him and a microphone. Jeremiah doesn’t even know what to ask him about that.

And Jeremiah has his trusty — maybe — bat in his hand. He isn’t sure they are prepared for this at all. But they don’t know what they are facing. He supposes having any kind of weapon and whatever Nev has is better than nothing. Maybe.

The three of them look at each other for a few minutes. Silence stretches. Jeremiah is just waiting for someone to say something. To break the silence — preferably with an actual plan — but neither Claire nor Nev seem like they want to. Holding onto the tension and silence is not something Jeremiah wishes to do.

“So, what do we do?” Jeremiah asks, his voice sounding too loud in the afternoon’s silence.

“How did you call the beast to you before?” Claire asks, tilting her head. She has sheathed the dagger and is staring up at the tree. Watching the wind blow through the leaves. She’s squinting. Jeremiah wonders if she needs glasses.

“I just. I told the tree—because I thought it was the tree—that I know what it is.” Jeremiah sounds embarrassed. His face turning all splotchy red.

“Wind! We know you aren’t wind!” Claire says loudly. It isn’t quite a shout, but it is near enough to make Jeremiah tense and worry about the neighbors. Nev looks concerned too, but he says nothing. Simply adjusts his grip on his weird tool.

The wind does nothing.

“What is that thing, anyway?” Jeremiah asks Nev, frustrated. Claire is glaring at him, and it makes him feel uncomfortable. He isn’t sure what he did wrong, but she is making him feel like he did something.

“It’s supposed to help me get a read on the wind. I think,” Nev says, frowning. “I had to make it with what I could find. It… it might not work.” He adds, looking embarrassed. Jeremiah groans at that and Claire shifts her glaring to Nev.

The wind is vicious. It feels like claws against Jeremiah’s skin. But he doesn’t see any claws. Sees nothing that resembles a body. The wind just whips around him. Hurting him. Making him hear things that aren’t there — or might not be true — he can’t tell anymore. He lost sight of Claire and Nev hours ago. Or it feels like hours ago, but he isn’t sure how much time has passed.

Going further into the woods to chase the wind might have been their worst idea yet.

The wind laughs in his ears and leaves him.

Jeremiah falls to his knees, his entire body hurting.

“CLAIRE! NEV!” He yells, and his voice is hoarse. He wonders if he has been screaming into the wind this entire time. His voice echoes through the woods. The silence that answers back is deafening.

Jeremiah pushes himself up to his feet. It is getting darker, and he needs to get back to the house before night falls. He doesn’t quite know where he is. Jeremiah has never lived in a place before with woods to explore. He doesn’t understand how to read them. How to get unlost.

He picks a direction.

“Nev!” No answer.

“Claire!” No answer.

And the wind is being too quiet. He trusts the quiet even less than the loud.

“NEV!” He tries again, and his voice is shaky now.


Jeremiah is certain he has killed them. Maybe not with his own hands, but with his actions. Or his inactions. He wants to sink to the ground and cry, but he doesn’t. Stubbornness that he didn’t even know he had, pushes him to move forward. Pushes him through the woods.

He reaches the back gate, and there is Claire. Her body slumped against the tree. She doesn’t have her dagger anymore. Nev is nowhere to be seen, but Jeremiah sees his odd radio thing. Jeremiah pushes open the gate and runs into the yard, skidding to a stop before Claire.


He’s the one being too loud, but his voice doesn’t seem to carry. He barely hears it as it leaves his mouth.

“CLAIRE!” He tries to shout louder, but again his voice isn’t carried. He wonders if the wind is stopping it. Panicked, he looks over Claire’s body. He can see her chest move like she is breathing, and her eyes snap open.

She opens her mouth to speak, and no sound comes out. Jeremiah can tell she is saying something, but he doesn’t know what. He can’t hear her!

“Claire, I can’t—….” And his own voice seems lost now too.

They stare at each other.

Claire stands, and Jeremiah helps her up. She looks injured but he can’t tell from where. He feels like they should get into the house, but he isn’t sure how safe the house is.

The gate slams shut and they both look towards it.

Nev stands there — outfit torn and scratches all over his face — he looks terrified from where Jeremiah is standing. Jeremiah wonders if they are wearing identical expressions.

Nev moves towards them and then everything stops.

Nev looks frozen in the spot. One foot half-raised to continue his forward movement. Jeremiah and Claire are frozen as they lean into one another. Silence fills the air. Complete silence. No animal noises. Nothing from the wind that had been screaming not too long ago.

And behind Nev is a creature. Dark like a shadow and standing on two legs. Hands that seem to be all claws. Jeremiah sees it and doesn’t. It’s like his brain doesn’t want him to see it. He can’t do anything. The creature seems to be the only thing that can move. It is going to get Nev and Jeremiah can’t will his body to move.

Why has the wind stopped?

“NEV!” Jeremiah isn’t sure how it happens. How he can move his mouth, but once the name is out of his lips, everything comes into motion again. The dark shadow vanishes just before reaching Nev, and Nev is running towards him and Claire at full speed.

The three teenagers collapse into each other as the wind howls. The air all around them feels angry. Together, in a stumbling mess, the three of them rush to the house. The door squeaks, but the squeak is swallowed by the shriek of the wind. They collapse into the kitchen.

Their foster mom is in the kitchen. She looks like she is unloading groceries.

She opens her mouth to say something, but then everything freezes once more.

Save for a gentle breeze that blows through the open door.

Why I, an awkward person, Streams!

It is strange that I enjoy writing on stream. I am am not who enjoys people seeing the words as she writes them. I blame it all on teachers who walked the row of desks in elementary school and beyond. The ones who peered over my shoulder, and the shoulders of my peers, to either help with what we were doing, or to ensure no cheating was occurring during the test. But I had a tendency to freeze up whenever that happened. Words, numbers, whatever I was working on would suddenly STOP. FLOWING. In both my brain and then on down to my hand.

Part of it stemmed from the atrociousness of my handwriting. That sense of shame that my teachers could not read what I was writing. It was fine (not really) when they couldn’t read it when grading, when I wasn’t around to squirm with discomfort. But the moment they asked me—MID WRITING—what a word was, or pointed out that my writing was difficult to read, I would freeze up. Shame would paint my face red (as a ginger it is very easy to paint my face red. Nearly everything can make me blush, but I digress). I would mumble a reply, apologize profusely, and silently beg for the teacher to just MOVE on. Then glance with a mixture of anger, and that all too familiar shame, at the ink that stained my left hand. I would wonder if I had bad handwriting because of being left-handed. Smearing my pencil ink (because it was all pencil ink in elementary school) certainly did not help with the legibility of my printing.

It also didn’t help that there were periods in my elementary school life where I was told to try writing with my right hand. Perhaps I had been using the wrong hand! But a pencil in my right hand felt wrong. And the numbers and letters that flowed from the ink were just as illegible. We learned cursive, and a teacher realized that they could read my cursive better, so for a while they suggested I write in all cursive. And I can’t remember how long that worked. (Or even if my memory of all of this is correct or just a mixture of scenes from childhood, some disconnected but now connected in my head. A version of the truth that may not be correct, but feels damn correct to me. Memory is a wild thing and maybe one day I’ll blog about that. But moving along…)

Then it seemed like there was less of a concern for improving my handwriting. Teachers struggled to read it, but I don’t recall hearing about it, or being made aware of it.

And maybe this is not what brought about my weirdness of people watching or peering over my shoulder when I write. Maybe it was just the embarrassment of people seeing my unedited words when I wrote on the computer. The ease of it for people to see the mistakes that I made. The plot inconsistencies. The ridiculousness of it. There’s something vulnerable about exposing that rough draft of something to people. Of letting people see how much I mess up and how little sense that I make. Of seeing the way I process through the first stages of storytelling.

But with streaming, that stuff bothers me a little less. Likely because I have a giant square of color hiding MOST of what I write from anyone daring or bored enough to read it. The fun of streaming for me comes in the social aspect (gasp?) of writing in front of an audience. I like to know that other people are writing with me, at the same time as me. Maybe they aren’t writing but they are working on something else. We sprint (that is write/productive/whatever) for anywhere from 15 minutes to 30. Then we take a break and chat. Talk about what we have been working on, and it is nice. Then back to sprinting! During the sprints there are some chill Lo-Fi beats playing for everyone. There are pitfalls to all of this too, in that sometimes chatting can be distracting. But overall, it is nice.

There is the accountability factor too. I feel like I have to write something. ANYTHING (next up on the docket: learning to finish more of what I start so this blog isn’t so woefully sparse). People are literally watching me. They can kind of see my text scrolling (because I show the smallest bit of writing above my little colored box with text that explains the “rules” of my stream). They can get an idea of whether or not I’m truly working on something. Even if they can’t really read it. They can see it moving. Incrementally. Bit by bit. That accountability is nice. The feeling that I’m not alone as I do this incredibly solitary activity. It is nice to have an audience or the appearance of an audience to ramble to when I get stuck with something or excited about something.

I am an awkward streamer. I tend to chat into the void better when no one is around. But, overall I enjoy doing these streams. And I’m going to keep doing them to. There are loads of people on twitch doing more than just streaming video games (but watching people play games is also a lot of fun too). Check out some of those categories, and who knows, maybe you will try to stream yourself writing or drawing or whatever one day. It’s okay to be awkward. So if you are bored on a Tuesday or Thursday morning at 6am then hop on over to my stream: twitch.tv/agingerwrites. I can’t promise you will be entertained, you might find it boring as heck. But, maybe you will find it helpful to write with someone else. I’m not very good at shilling myself, eh? Speaking of which…

Remember that podcast I mentioned? It is live! You can listen to my husband and I talk scary movies and other scary things over at anchor.fm/creepycabinpod or look for Creepy Cabin Podcast on spotify, apple podcasts, and google podcasts. Thanks for reading! Let me know if you stream or podcast too.

What happens after A Ghost Story?

This blog entry is in response to a comment left by my lovely Aunt. Often, with these prompts I do, I have thoughts — LOTS OF THOUGHTS — on what happens to these characters once their prompt is told. Their story is not complete. It is a bit like real life; you know? How often do we just see snapshots of people? You go to the store and have an interaction with a fellow human, and odds are good, you won’t see them again. Or they work at the store, and you will simply see them in that setting but rarely anywhere else. Your interaction with them is not the entirety of their life story. Just, possibly, the entirety of YOUR story with them. And that is fascinating to me. The stories of people that are left untold, or that we do not experience personally. The ways in which we can probably never truly know another person and—… I am going off on a tangent that I did not mean to go off on.

Back to what the point of this entry is going to be. I am going to be answering some questions about what happened to Izzy following A Ghost Story. I will not say that I have her entire life planned out, but it is a near damn thing. Possibly.

We last left off with Izzy being too drunk off of alcohol and flirting to deal with the onslaught of emotions and feelings that she may or may not have regarding her ghostly roommate, Frederick. She isn’t romantically in love with him, but there is love there. An intense love too. Frederick is just around ALL the time. Proximity can sometimes bring about closeness in friendship, and that seems to be the case between these two. Plus, they mesh really well. They have a friendship full of teasing and caring. They clash a lot and are very different people. Their living experiences are completely different — both when Frederick WAS alive and now given the fact he is dead — and so that causes friction and head-butting; but they are willing to work it out. They want to work it out.

Even if Frederick isn’t paying rent, Izzy still wants him around. He still wants to be around.

(SIDE NOTE: In the universe that this story takes place, I am still not exactly sure what the mechanics are regarding ghosts/spirits being able to leave the house/place they are haunting. Does something tie them to the place? Are they able to leave whenever they want? How do they pass on if they wish to the afterlife? Must they do something in order to move on? These are questions I would clearly need to work on should I ever expand on the story but for now we will leave them unanswered but vaguely being shouted in the back of my head. The life of a writer is living with many voices in your head.)

Now onto the potential lover. SPOILER ALERT: Izzy and the man she danced and flirted with do in fact fall in love. His name is Raffi. He likes to read, although he and Izzy at first struggle to find common ground in the books that they enjoy. At least they enjoy cozying up on the couch together to read their separate books. They have a quiet relationship when they get together.

Raffi is introduced to Frederick before he and Izzy put a label on what their relationship is. Izzy just awkwardly texts him a link to her blog where she talks about Frederick. A lot of Frederick and Izzy’s initial relationship starts with flirting via text, but they cross back into the world of actual contact too. Frederick fascinates Raffi, and he isn’t jealous of the relationship that Frederick has with Izzy. Frederick, for his part, is a fan of Raffi too. They end up getting their own private jokes, leaving poor Izzy out of the loop occasionally.

What I want for Izzy, Raffi, and Frederick is a happy existence. Sure, there is going to be strife. There will be fights between the three of them, or sometimes just between two of them. But overall, all three of them will mesh well. All three of them will have their own relationships with each other. Because look I just want happiness and good times for my characters in this story.

So, overall, it is happy. Struggles will surface in their lives and unlives, but they will all overcome them for the better and live happily ever after. Even the one who is dead.

Not all my characters are destined for such happiness. Some that are percolating in my head and heart are destined for nothing good in the end. Some of these characters have been introduced in prompts, and maybe one day I’ll babble about some of those characters too. In a vague sort of fashion.

Anyway, I hope this satisfied anyone who was curious about Izzy, Frederick, and the mysterious Raffi!

A podcast coming your way

My husband and I are starting a podcast. Just what is the podcast going to be about? Well, my husband loves horror movies. I, myself, do not. We decided it might be fun to record my thoughts and his on horror movies. Will I grow to love horror movies? Will I enjoy any of them? Will I hate every single one of them? Just how awkward will we both be when we think of people potentially listening to us blather on and on about movies? Tune in to find out!

It won’t just be reactions to movies. We plan on delving into all things creepy. Talking about our own run-ins with the paranormal and talking scary stories that we find on the internet and in books, possibly. It will be fun, we hope. We will be entertaining, we hope. If all else fails it just gives us a fun project to do together while figure out editing of sound and such.

We plan on recording our first episode this Friday. We will be watching The Conjuring.

As someone who lacks in self-esteem and who feels like most of the time that I have little to offer the world, it surprises me that I am able — and willing — to put myself out there. I do so with this blog, with sharing my writing and words. I do it every Tuesday and Thursday morning on twitch as I stream my writing. I put myself out there in all of my awkward glory and it IS awkward, because I AM awkward. And that’s okay, I think. We’ll see. I just wanted to spend a minute to just… be proud of myself. For getting out of my comfort zone. It is scary as hell. Each time I hit publish, each time I hit start stream I have a moment of panic. A serious questioning of myself and what I am doing, but I am proud of myself for pushing through.

And I’m excited to work on something with my husband. Hopefully, other people will find it entertaining, but if not? Oh well. It gives us something to do together. It will be a learning experience and that’s neat in and of itself.

I’m not sure when the first episode will be released. We are angling for Monday or Tuesday of next week. Wish us luck!

Prompt: A Ghost Story

First off I’d like to apologize for taking so long between prompts and just overall posting in this blog. I hope to not go that long again, but no promises. Anyway, here’s a new prompt! It was tilted A Ghost Story and these are the words that I had to use for it:

  • Tango
  • Diversify
  • Blog
  • Invisible
  • Missile
  • Glitter
  • Scuff
  • Balloon
  • Birdcage
  • Grizzly Bear

I alternate between first and third person in this prompt and you will figure out why fairly soon. Anyway, this is a fun (for me and hopefully you too!) twist on a ghost story. Please enjoy!

A Ghost Story

There is a ghost in my house. They seem like a friendly ghost; I think. It isn’t like they are actively spooking me or anything. They just… or well, the idea of them spooks me. At first I thought it was just that I live in an old house. I started to hear noises. I have heard people talk about houses settling. Houses creaking. Their old bones doing something. But the noises sounded a little different. Stranger. More moan-like.

Y’all. Remember when I first bought this house? How excited I was? How I showed as many pictures of it as I could? And most of you commented with something akin to: “lol, looks haunted.” “Damn, that house is old.” “ARE THERE GHOSTS?” And I in my naivety scoffed off such concerns and only spoke about the merits of the house being old and unique and not a damn cookie cutter like everything else. Someone commented with “You will regret this. All that work!” So far all you commenters are right. None of y’all were fucking trolling me.

Izzy pushed away from her desk, her chair flying back. She stared at the blog post she had finished. Chewing on her lower lip as she reread the words. Her heart racing as it always did before she hit publish. It didn’t matter how often she published posts; it didn’t matter that she apparently had people who regularly read her words and the adventures she painted with those words. Versions of her truth. There was something terrifying about exposing yourself to the masses. Even if the masses were relatively small.

She stood up. Stretching her body. She glanced at the small clock in the corner of her monitor, squinting her eyes. Likely, she needed new glasses. She sighed, noting the time. Then, without sitting back down, she bent over her desk and published the post. Her shoulders sagging with relief before the dread kicked in.

It was decidedly off brand of her to talk about ghosts. But there really was a ghost living with her. She needed to work up the courage to talk with them.

Y’all. I want to thank both the skeptics and my true believers. Seriously. I tried to take a picture of the ghost. I wasn’t expecting a great shot. We all know that ghosts often come up as blurry things in photos. If they show up at all! It makes proving the existence of them difficult. Neigh on impossible, if you will. I got a picture. It was not blurry! Wee—ell… not blurry in the traditional sense.

What showed up is a mess of glitter. I know. It makes no sense, but it’s true! I’ve uploaded a picture and you will see it at the bottom of this post. There will be the original photo and one I did edit ONLY so that y’all can see the outline of the ghost more clearly. I don’t understand it.

Yes. I did some research. So far no one else has ever had a situation where their ghostly roommates come up as glitter blobs in photos. Just mine!

Izzy needed to gain some confidence. She needed to stroll into the third bedroom, where the ghost liked to hang out. There was a perfectly good, and spooky, attic for the ghost to live in, but of course, they wanted the bedroom that Izzy would have preferred for an office space. It had a wonderful view of her small property, all the trees looking big and beautiful from it. She was glad she hadn’t moved all her stuff into the room. Glad she had planned to paint and fix things first. She figured it would be awkward blogging about her ghost roommate if they shared a space.

But she paid the mortgage! She ought to have dibs on any room in the house! She sighed and tried to clean off a scuff mark on the wall. Her feet stopping of their own accord outside of the room the ghost liked.

Izzy could not believe that she was too shy to talk to a GHOST. She groaned in her head and just barely resisted the urge to bash her head against the wall.

Why had she thought it would be possible to own a house on her own? At least if she had a partner or friend living with her, she could send them into the room to befriend the ghost. Izzy added another tally to her mental list of ways she failed at life.

The ghost’s name is Fredrick. He sounds kind of nasally, which surprised me. I didn’t realize a ghost could be nasally. It isn’t like they have functioning nasal passages, is it? Anyway, Fredrick is nice. My original assessment of him being a friendly ghost seems to still stand. He is obsessed with this birdcage that occupies one corner of the room. I took a picture of it when I first moved in, it’s actually on the blog! Remember how I wanted to do something crafty with it? Now I’m not so sure that it is a good idea.

Fredrick seems too attached to it. I asked if him if he had a pet bird when he was alive. He stared me dead in the eyes (I wonder if that is offensive to say in this situation?) and stated that HE was the living one and I was the ghost. I’ll admit my face must have done something. It turns out he was joking. Apparently, conveying jokes is difficult with a somewhat transparent face. Translucent? I don’t know what word to use. Anyway, he saw the fear in my eyes and hastily tried to reassure me he was kidding.

The bird cage never had a bird in it. The owner just before me brought the cage in (the ghost does not know why the cage was purchased). Fredrick never spoke with that family, he said. They didn’t want to believe in him. I asked him what that meant, and apparently, if you disbelief hard enough then you won’t see a ghost. Ghosts derive their power—power is not exactly the right word—from belief.

My believing makes it so I can see Fredrick. Makes it so I can talk to him. It’s… interesting. It also made me wonder if I’m a little crazy. No, I won’t make a poll on whether y’all think I am crazy. I’ll need to do some more research on ghosts, it appears

Izzy brought the sweaty bottle of beer to her lips. She was seated on the floor with her legs stretched out in front of her. Her back pressed against the wall of the bedroom, she still wanted to turn into her office. Fredrick the Ghost was floating a little way away from her, watching her with an intense expression. She wondered what color eyes he had when he had been living.

“It…” Izzy paused. She took another sip of the beer, her nose wrinkling. She set the beer down. “It tastes better than the other stuff you had me try. But it still tastes like garbage.”

Fredrick’s ghostly shoulders slumped down.

“You really need to diversify your taste buds.”

Izzy rolled her eyes. Of course he would be dramatic about it. And of course her ghostly roommate would be a craft beer enthusiast. She wished he could drink the stuff himself. She had no problems buying him the beer. It was just a pain that he then wanted her to taste it for him and to explain the experience to him.

“They didn’t have all these choices when I was alive,” Fredrick said, and he always said that. She sighed.

“I’m sorry that the way I describe this beer is a disappointment to you. But mostly, I’m sorry for my taste buds.”

I know it has been awhile since I’ve talked about my not-quite-invisible-ghostly-roommate. But this blog is foremost all about my adventures in life! Not necessarily in death, right? Plus, there were some questions y’all had. A lot of you are apparently on the path to homeownership and I would be remiss in my duties as your favorite blogger (and most modest one too!) if I didn’t answer those pressing questions.

Besides, it seems rude to gossip about Fredrick. Even if he isn’t living and breathing, he is still a roommate. I think it is time that I explain to him about this blog and maybe tell him how much I want that third bedroom back. It really would make for a pleasant office. Most of you liked the pictures of it. Remember that massive tree by it? It has flowers on it right now! I’ll need to take a picture. Perhaps one of you readers is a botanist. Or… do I need an arborist? What really is the difference? Don’t slay me for asking that question! Remember, it isn’t a crime to ask questions on this blog.

Izzy was staring out the window of the third bedroom. Her eyes squinting at the large tree. She had her phone in her hand, and she was trying to angle the camera on it to take a decent photo of the flower. She had a sweaty mug of cold brew on the windowsill beside her. Fredrick was nowhere to be seen. It made her wonder where the ghost went when he wasn’t in the room. She was wondering if she should grab one of her other cameras when she heard Fredrick clear his non-existent throat. How did ghosts do that?

“Excuse me, but don’t you have other cameras you could use? I’ve seen them.”

Izzy turned away from the window and shrugged her shoulder. She shoved her phone into her back pocket and picked up her mug of caffeinated necessity. She sipped it. Fredrick was watching her intently.

“I have better cameras, sure.” She squinted at him. “Do you know what a cellphone is?”
“Yes,” Fredrick said in that huffy way he had.

“Were you…?” Here Izzy did a complicated shrugging motion, coupled with a wave. She was trying to convey living. Alive. Without saying the words. A sudden fear that voicing that would be offensive to the dead.

“Was I?” Fredrick asked, wholly confused from what Izzy could read of his ghostly facial expression. She sighed. She seemed to always be sighing these days. Maybe her entire life was just built around sighing.

“Were you living when cellphones were invented?” Izzy spat out. Her face burning with shame. She couldn’t explain it. Why she felt so much shame.

“No,” Fredrick said, simply. He, too, shrugged his shoulders. “You know, talking about being dead or my living past. It doesn’t offend me. You can use those words. But, I’ve seen those phones.” He grew quiet before adding, “technology has advanced a lot in recent years.”

“You are telling me.” Izzy said, mirroring him with her quietness.

She was still embarrassed. Stupidly so.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. I’ve never been very good at the DIY stuff. And it feels even more difficult to try now that I have an audience of one actually watching me. It is one thing to talk about and show my failed attempts on this blog, but it is an entirely different thing to have someone watching me. Fredrick claims he does not judge me, but still. I don’t like people seeing me fail. You can see the result of the failure, but not the process!

Balloons are the bane of my fucking existence. How do people tie them up with ease? My fingers must not be nimble enough because all they do, all I do, is get them tangled up and stuck as I try to knot the ends. Which is a bummer because I think these lamps will look cool whenever I finish them. They will be the finishing touches to the office space. Anyway, here are some photos of the attempt. Fredrick says I look like an idiot in a lot of them. He is such an uplifting roommate, eh?

“Do you miss eating?”
“All the time.”
“What was your favorite food?”
“Grizzly bear.”

“Gri… Grizzly bear?” Izzy can’t help the disbelief in her voice. She won’t believe what Fredrick just said. Refuses to!

“I was a mountain man when I was a living one.”

“There aren’t any mountains around here,” Izzy pointed out.

“Who said I always lived here?”

“Fredrick!” She glowered at him.

He laughed and held up his hands. “Down, girl, I am teasing. No, my palette when I was alive was rather plain. Much like yours.”

Izzy glared at the dead man. But there was no heat to it.

Fredrick laughed at her. His laugh, though not quite the same as a living person, was still a sound that Izzy enjoyed. She didn’t want to say that she went out of her way to make him laugh, but maybe, maybe she did.

Y’all. My best friend has betrayed me. She wants me to learn the damn tango for her wedding. She has never been the type to do what everyone else does. I remember the two of us making fun of weddings that had choreographed dancing from the wedding party. But she had to fall in love with a dancer. Then fall in love WITH dancing. We were two nonrhythmic souls who met in middle school, awkward bodies and minds, melding into one.

I am happy for her, and I adore her partner. Fredrick thinks I’m being ridiculous. I tell him I’m not. Besides, it isn’t like I’ll boycott the wedding or the dance. She’s signed me up for lessons with her. I have no choice.

It might be fun. I guess. She is my best friend and I love her more than anyone else in the world. She has always dragged me, kicking and screaming, out of my comfort zone. Into new experiences that broadened my horizons. Without her, I do not think I would be doing what I am do now.

I didn’t mean to become sentimental trash. Any advice on how to force my body to learn some rhythm? Help a girl out!

It was late when Izzy stumbled into her house. Her feet tired and sore from dancing the night away at her friend’s wedding. She had taken a cab to the venue at six in the morning for hair, makeup, and other pre-wedding shenanigans. It was now well past midnight. Probably nearing three in the morning. She was still drunk and knew that come the morning (the later morning at any rate) she would regret the decision to keep drinking.

But she had fun.

She couldn’t remember the last time she had laughed this much with people who were alive, of flesh and blood. No offense to Freddy or anything, she blithely thought. And there had been a guy she had met. She hated the cliche, meeting someone at a goddamn wedding, but there had been sparks. Especially the more she drank. It loosened her up to the idea that maybe flirting was something she could do.

“Wild night?” Fredrick’s voice startled her in the dark.

Her eyes widened, her heart racing. She blushed. Not quiet able to make eye contact with the dead man. She felt almost as if she were a teenager being caught doing something naughty by their parents. It was foolish. She was an adult! And Fredrick, a dead person who lived rent free in her house.

“Perhaps,” she said, her mouth thick with alcohol and sullen sounding.

“Good, you deserve it.” Fredrick said, a hint of laughter in his voice.

Izzy relaxed at those words. She sank down onto the couch and Fredrick floated close to to it. She leaned her head back and sighed.

“I’m going to regret being up this late. And this drunk.”

“You aren’t that old,” Fredrick pointed out, reasonably, but Izzy shook her head.

“Did you meet anyone?” Fredrick asked, his voice light.

She looked at him. Squinted through her drunkenness. And it hit her like a missile. If she brought someone into her life, how was she supposed to introduce her newest best friend? The dead one who lived with her, who supported her with his words, who drove her crazy? It wasn’t love in the traditional sense that she felt for Fredrick, but there was something there.

He was important to her. Anyone who came into her life would need to accept Fredrick. He was more than just part of the house.

“I think so,” she said, quietly. Her throat tightening. Constricting on feelings, she wasn’t quite ready to name.
“You think so?” he asked.

“I did, but I don’t know.. You know, whoever I like, has to like you too?” Her mind was a jumbled mess. She wasn’t sure she was in the right state of mind to talk about this. Didn’t even know what to say. What she wanted to say.
Fredrick smiled. A sad thing, but a smile all the same.

“Few living people do, but I think if this person is someone you think can be important to you… I think they might more than tolerate me.”

“Thank you…” Izzy said, quietly. And then she curled up on the couch. Too drunk and lazy to make the journey up to her room. She could deal with these heavy thoughts in the morning.

prompt: a camping trip in which no one has been camping before

a camping trip in which no one has been camping before

howdy! remember when I messed up the very first prompt I posted from my prompt book (the piano bar)? welp, this new prompt I may have muddled up a little bit. technically, all of the characters featured in it have never gone camping before, but that seems to be mostly background information. so, please enjoy! I am not exactly pleased with how this one turned out, but here it is. the words I had to use were:

  • constellation
  • ketchup
  • royal
  • gear
  • atmosphere
  • expand
  • livid
  • example
  • luminous
  • moonlit

Cadence looked at all the gear that lined her small living room. She was trying to keep her cool. The last thing she wanted to do was see Trevor’s hurt face. He had this way of looking like he was going to cry, but he never quite did. His eyes got watery, and there would be something akin to a pout in his expression. She didn’t want to dash his hopes or dreams. Didn’t want to be accused of holding him back, or belittling him. Trevor never said those words to her. He never expressed it like that, but his friends did. Cadence was running out of fingers to count the number of times they accused her of something like that.

She wanted to yell back at his friends that she wasn’t doing any of that. But she also wouldn’t lie to his face and tell him that everything he wanted and everything he dreamed up would happen. She built him up, she really did. But she didn’t do so on false hope. False hope was a weak foundation.

“What is all of this?” She asked, attempting to keep her voice pleasant.

“Griffin wants to go camping so that he can propose to Sarah,” Trevor said, as if that explained why their living room was filled to the bursting point with camping equipment.

“So we are holding onto Griffin’s camping stuff until then?” She asked, with more hope than dread. She still thought it was obnoxious that their living space held the stuff. She also hoped that Griffin wasn’t surprising Sarah with a camping trip. Sarah was probably the nicest person Cadence had ever met. The kind of nice that made her seem fake at first until you realized it was all real. That was Sarah. She would be too nice to say anything, she wouldn’t hide her surprise, but she would look over at Griffin and say how excited she was. And maybe she would be. But maybe she didn’t know how to tell someone off when they needed it. Maybe Cadence needed to give her some lessons on that.

Trevor looked confused. That confusion made Cade nervous.

“No…” He said, and she could hear that almost quiver in his voice. She didn’t understand how it worked. He never actually cried. He just sounded like he was on the verge. “No,” he said, and this time his voice was a little sturdier. “This is for us.”

“For us?”

“Griffin invited us along.”

“He invited us to his proposal?” Cadence stopped trying to keep her voice neutral. She was sure she was also wearing her confusion mixed with something else on her face.

“No, not to the proposal itself. He’s planning a romantic hike the second day. But, he doesn’t want Sarah being suspicious. He wants her surprised.”

Cadence stared at Trevor, and she saw that hope had once more wriggled its way into his expression. She didn’t want to go camping. Didn’t think the atmosphere of it would suit her. She saw how hopeful Trevor looked. She could also imagine the expression on Griffin’s face if Trevor told him she decided not to go camping. She didn’t want to think about that, or what Griffin would say.

“Sounds fun,” she said, willing her voice not to sound sarcastic.

“When are we going?” She added, regret already wriggling its way in.

The four adults and all their camping gear were shoved into Griffin’s compact car. It surprised Cadence the trunk could close. She kept waiting for the thing to pop open, and for all their camping equipment to fly out. There was a cooler wedged between her and Trevor. Trevor, who was practically been bouncing with every step he took. Trevor, whose excitement was palpable.

Sarah turned to face them from the front seat. She had a royal blue knit cap pulled low on her head, partially obscuring the perfect waves of her equally perfect blond hair.

“Are you excited?” She asked with a smile. Her teeth white and straight, another example of her perfection.

“We sure are!” Trevor said, and Cadence wanted to reach over the cooler that served as a barrier between her and her boyfriend, and she wanted to grip his hand. Try to signal with that grip that he should cool it with his excitement. She worried Sarah would sniff out that there was a big surprise waiting for her in a day.

She didn’t seem to notice. Instead, Sarah looked away from Trevor and stared directly into Cadence’s eyes. She had a way of making eye contact, even with people who didn’t like it.

“I’m happy you could make it, Cade.” Sarah said.

“Yeah, me too.” Cadence replied, and she wasn’t entirely sure if she meant it or not.
Sarah wriggled underneath people’s skins and make things seem better than they actually were.

The campsite was pretty. They secured a location big enough for two tents, with some space between to give the illusion of privacy. There was a small path between the trees that led to a tiny river behind where the tents would be. And then another path led to the outhouses. The campgrounds had showers and toilets too, about a ten-minute walk from their site. Cadence watched as Trevor and Griffin grabbed the tents from the trunk and set to work on erecting them. Sarah startled her by bumping into her, gently.

“Let’s not watch this. Griff has been watching YouTube tutorials on how to put up a tent. He thinks he’s a pro. I think it might be a little painful to watch,” Cadence marveled at how Sarah said that. The words near the end sounded mean, but her tone of voice was pleasant. Friendly, even. Just a joke, but Cade knew if she had made the same joke, she would have delivered it wrong. Trevor would have pulled her off to the side to tell her to be nicer.

Cade followed Sarah to the picnic table that was at their site. Sarah began setting up what looked like the fixings for sandwiches. There were different deli meat and cheeses, a couple different loaves of bread, and condiments like ketchup and mustard.

The two men could not get the tents up without the help of Cadence and Sarah. Sarah, who seemed immeasurably more patient with everything that Griffin did. Cadence tried to channel some of that patience for herself. Trevor kept looking at her with a sheepish expression on his face. She and Trevor got their tent up, and kept it standing before Sarah and Griffin got theirs up.

Cadence knew it had not been a competition, and yet, she was proud of herself for it. Proud of Trevor, too.

It was dark, and Cadence did not know what time it was. Her phone had died a few hours ago, and she hadn’t wanted to ask Griffin to use that portable battery of his that he had brought. Sarah had told her that Griffin spent days googling which kind of battery was the best for charging phones while camping. The battery itself apparently charged when the car was running. But Cadence was well aware of the looks at Griffin gave her. They weren’t friendly. Maybe she would just spend the weekend with no phone.

Trevor grabbed her hand and asked if she wanted to go for a walk. She agreed and felt anxious. She didn’t like how dark it was at the campgrounds. Her heart thudding hard in her chest. Her palms a little sweaty, but Trevor said nothing about it. She didn’t know why she was so anxious. She wasn’t necessarily afraid of being hurt or anything. But there was fear within her all the same.

They reached a small moonlit beach. Trevor led the way to a picnic table and Cadence climbed it to sit on the table portion, her feet on the bench. Trevor let go of her hand, and she saw him wiping both his hands on his pants. Her cheeks warmed up and she was grateful now for the dark.

“Thanks for agreeing to come,” Trevor said, and she knew he was looking at her. She trained her gaze up to the sky.

The amount of stars she saw surprised her. She wasn’t used to seeing the sky so full. She pointed to a cluster of stars.

“Any idea what constellation that is?” She asked, remembering that Trevor had once taken an Astronomy class in college.

“No idea,” he said, and when she looked in his direction, she noticed he too was staring up at the sky. She looked away from him, and once more focused on the sky above them.
“We should make up our own constellations then,” she said.

Trevor slipped an arm over Cadence’s shoulder, and he pointed to a cluster of bright stars. Brighter than all the rest.

“What should we name that one?”

“Clownface,” Cadence suggested, and she did not know why she did. She felt a little goofy for it. Trevor was squinting at the luminous stars, and then he laughed. It was infectious enough that Cade laughed too.

“Clownface it is, you goof.”

Hearing him call her a goof made Cadence feel warm on the inside.

Cadence and Trevor finally settled down into their tent to sleep. It took Cadence awhile to get used to the noises of the surrounding woods. She was one of those people who slept with the fan on. She needed that kind of white noise. The noises made by nature were different, though. Somehow, it was both too loud and too quiet.

Eventually she fell asleep.

And then the tent collapsed on them.

Cadence yelped, and Trevor shouted. She found the flashlight she had put beside her sleeping bag, and flipped it on, accidentally shining it into Trevor’s eyes. He winced, and then the two of them laughed.

Griffin yelled at them to be quiet.

That only caused them to laugh louder.

Eventually, they settled down and were able to erect the tent once more. Was it possible to gain muscle memory for a task that they had only done once before? Cade didn’t know. But it impressed her they could do this in the dark, with only a flashlight as their guide.

Cadence woke up to a shout. Trevor ran out of the tent before she could stop him. She struggled out of her sleeping bag, her heart racing. She heard Griffin and Trevor talking, but she couldn’t make out the words until she left the tent.

An animal had scattered trash and food all over the camp. Cade ignored the men and made her way to the cooler. Thankfully, whatever had gotten into the trash and foodstuff that was carelessly left out on the table overnight, hadn’t been able to pry open the cooler. She spied Sarah crouched on the ground with a bag. She was picking up the trash.

Cadence looked back at Trevor and Griffin. Griffin was animatedly throwing his hands up into the air. Griffin was livid while Trevor was calm and placating. Cadence shook her head and found another bag. She helped Sarah clean up the mess.

Sarah flashed her a smile.

“Thanks,” she said.

“No problem, it’s the least I could do.” Cadence said, and she hoped the boys would notice the two of them cleaning up. She hoped Griffin would stop his railing against nature and calm down. Sarah didn’t look like she noticed how Griffin was behaving, but it unsettled Cadence. She wondered about Sarah and Griffin; and how their relationship worked.

That then made her wonder if others looked at her and Trevor with the same confusion.

Trevor eventually calmed Griffin down and soon everyone was cleaning up the mess.
Sarah made a comment, and Cadence forgot what it was almost as soon as she heard it, but she knew it was funny so she joined in with the laughter.

Sarah and Griffin went off for their hike. Cadence watched as Trevor gave his best friend an encouraging thumbs up. She thought Griffin looked like he was going to be sick. The campsite felt too quiet without the other couple. Cadence felt awkward around Trevor, in a way she hadn’t in a long time.

She hadn’t realized that a new location could trip her up like this. Or perhaps it was just the newness of the situation. She had never gone camping before, not even as a kid. Her parents had been city dwellers, and the closest they got to nature was the walk to the small park in the neighborhood. She wondered if that was why she was ill at ease. But, as far as she could remember, Trevor had never gone camping before. Neither had Griffin nor Sarah, at least not since adulthood. None of them seemed as ill at ease as her.

She watched as Trevor pulled out some drawing supplies of his. He settled down at the table and sketched the trees. Cadence studied him for a few minutes before she grabbed a book from the tent. She settled down next to him on the bench of the table. She could feel his body heat radiating. It was a comfort.

She relaxed into the moment.

Occasionally they would talk to each other, but mostly they kept quiet. They did their own thing, and it was nice. It was like being back at home, but now she had the sounds of nature playing in the background and not some TV show no one was paying any attention to. She felt her love of nature suddenly expand.

She lost track of time, and so did Trevor.

They were both startled by Sarah and Griffin returning from their hike. The two of them with matching smiles too big and vibrant for their faces. Cadence spied the ring on Sarah’s finger. Trevor gave Griffin a high-five and Sarah came to Cadence with a hug.

“Congratulations,” Cadence said.

And it felt like she meant those words. At least right in that moment.

Prompt: A Hike Through the Woods

A Hike Through the Woods

Another completed prompt for January, huzzah! This was also from that prompt book I received as a Christmas gift. It too came with ten words I had to use, and this time, I didn’t miss half the prompt in writing it. And here are the words I had to use:

  • backpack
  • collar
  • covert
  • fireball
  • leprechaun
  • pity
  • nausea
  • practice
  • snoop
  • wart

I had fun incorporating magic into this little prompt. I hope you enjoy it!

I adjust the straps of my backpack, tugging it more firmly against my back. The wind is brisk, and I hope that once I step into the woods that the trees will help serve as a bit of a buffer against the wind. I wonder if I should have worn a thicker jacket but I know, after hiking for a bit, that I will grow warm. I always do. I run hot.

I like to take these hikes alone. I like the quiet, even though quiet isn’t really the right word to use. The woods aren’t quiet. Creatures are moving around underfoot and overhead, the breeze blows through the leaves causing them to rustle. Occasionally, an animal will sound the alarm, or maybe yell at another. But it feels quieter than the sounds that I am used to. It isn’t the loudness that I equate to a city. It isn’t the honking of horns and the curses of fellow humans. I would much rather deal with animals cursing than humans.

Everyone tells me I do not need to make these treks alone. Especially this one. I can see the pity in their eyes, hear it in their voices. It doesn’t bother me as much as it used to. I remember how it made me feel so angry, and I still don’t know if I was angrier with myself or with those who wore pity in their eyes like their life depended on it. It was not like it ever led to action on their parts, no true action at any rate. They do not deserve my anger or even annoyance. I do my best to push it down. It shouldn’t — and it doesn’t — bother me these days.

My shoulders relax as I make my way further in the woods. My boots making tracks in the mud. There will be no hiding that I have been here, at least not today. There is no rain in the forecast, nothing to wash away the evidence of me. That bothers me, and I’m not sure why. I tug the collar of my shirt up higher around my ears. I’m not cold. I just have a sudden urge to hide as much as I can. To tuck into myself. It’s the thoughts rolling around in my brain that are making me act like this. It is not like I’m on some sort of covert mission.

Huffing out a sigh, I tell myself to snap out of it. I hike ever onward.

I remember when I was a child, when I used to snoop in my grandmother’s office. It was a room that we grandkids were not allowed in. I never heeded that warning, never thought that it really applied to me. There was a black-and-white picture on her desk that I was obsessed with. The photo was of a young woman, smiling shyly at the camera. She wore a witch’s hat, cocked lopsidedly over one eye. There was a large wart on the tip of her nose. The photo fascinated me. I always wanted to ask my grandmother who that woman was.

I never did because that would give away the fact I had been in her office.

But I always wondered. Wondered who she was and why she looked like a witch. At least, like a witch told in stories to children to make them behave. She looked friendly, though. I couldn’t imagine her trying to eat children or whatever outlandish lies the story books told.

I am playing with a fireball in my hand as I take a brief rest. I know I should eat, especially since I am needlessly using my magic. I can hear my grandmother’s voice in my head, telling me to not waste my abilities. But playing with fire has always been how I calm myself. I like having control over something that can destroy. I like how hot it makes my hands feel. I like how dangerous it is.

“Still playing with fire?” A voice asks somewhere to my right.

I recognize the voice. I don’t look up, or acknowledge the leprechaun as he takes a seat on the fallen log that I have claimed as my chair for my rest. I don’t know how old he is. He has looked the same throughout the years that I have known him. Always offering more of a hindrance than any genuine help. Though my grandmother originally sent him to keep an eye on me, I think he cares, too, that I succeed.

“You know I’ll never stop,” I say, after a silence has lapsed between us.

“You should eat,” he says, and he says it gentler than I have ever heard him. I don’t think that I knew his voice could sound like that. It makes my stomach hurt.

“I’m not very hungry,” I say. Maybe I was a few minutes ago, but that hunger has gone away now.

The leprechaun sighs and I feel him get off the log. I finally look at him, and he is watching me. Eyes gleamed over with that look of pity that I have gotten used to. I had hoped he wouldn’t waste that look on me.

“Be careful. Do not do anything foolish,” he says.

I grunt a reply, dropping my gaze to look at the fireball in my hand. I toss it lazily to my other hand.

The leprechaun doesn’t say goodbye. He just vanishes with a loud cracking noise. I stay on the log for a little while longer. I don’t eat even when my stomach grumbles for food.

Nausea hits me a few hours later. I am still hiking in the woods, knowing my destination won’t be reached for another hour at the least. I regret not eating during my rest earlier, and I am forced to stop. I shrug my pack off my shoulder and reach inside of it for a granola bar when a memory hits me like a punch to the gut.

Suddenly, I feel like I am thirteen years old again, on my first hike. I didn’t eat then, either. I was too excited. I could hardly make myself take a break, but it caught up to me and I reached into my pack, and pulled out homemade trail mix from my grandmother.
I feel twenty again, still eating the same trail mix. Desperate to prove just how much of an adult I thought I was.

This is the first year that my hand comes back with something else. I can’t tell anymore if my stomach hurts from not eating, or because of something else.
I eat the granola bar even though it tastes like cardboard in my mouth.

I reach my destination little over an hour later. My legs burn from the exertion. I’m out of shape. I ponder, like I have the last few years that I have done this trek, about getting in shape. Taking walks outside of this hike. Somehow, I doubt I will. In the day’s light, out of these woods, that kind of work seems pointless.

I am in a clearing with a small river that runs to an edge of a cliff. The water doesn’t flow down the edge of a cliff; it doesn’t pour down it like a waterfall; it doesn’t drip-drip-drop. It is like gravity has stopped. An invisible wall halts the flow of the water.

The air is thick with magic.

I remember feeling like the surrounding air was suffocating me the first time I came here. I panicked. The leprechaun had appeared then and reminded me to relax. I did, just barely. I struggled to remember the breathing exercises that my grandma and others had taught me. But eventually, I did. And then I had realized the beauty of the place. The majesty of the magic.

Each year I must make a pilgrimage to this spot. I must absorb the magic placed here by my ancestors and leech some of mine out. It has taken a lot of practice to do so. I am fairly certain that in the first few years that I didn’t exactly take or give any magic. Everyone told me not to worry, that I would figure it out, eventually.

And I did.

I sit down at the edge of the cliff, ignoring the steep drop. I can’t look down or else I will panic. I don’t like heights. I feel like I was made short for a reason. I close my eyes and I concentrate. I can feel the air grab at me. I let the air, or magic, or whatever it is, pull some of my magic out of me. I do not panic, even when it hurts. I lose track of time. I don’t know how long I let the flow of magic leave me. But, eventually, I stop and then stand up, legs wobbly. I feel weaker than I have in years of doing this.

I should have eaten more.

I move to the stream, and I dip my hands into the water. It is cold. I bring it to my lips, and I open myself up again. I drink the water; it is thicker than water should be. I feel a sudden burst of fear that it won’t go down my throat. That I will choke on the thick-water and die. But I don’t. The water goes down, and I open myself up to it, allowing that magic that has infused in it long ago, to replenish what I let seep out of me at the cliff’s edge. I drink and drink until I feel uncomfortably full. Then I stop.

I feel stronger.

I feel ready to take on the world again.

I feel ready to face it without my grandmother.

Bree Finds a Teacher

Bree Finds a Teacher

Howdy! This is a little scene I wrote that involves my D&D character, Bree. She is a young halfling rogue. Fresh into adulthood. She was separated from her family at a young age, and grew up on the streets of a city. She’s now in Waterdeep with a group of companions that she thinks of as friends. She’s a little uncertain of it all, but she is embracing the adventure of it. This is a story of her finding a teacher of sorts. At one point, Copper is referenced. Copper is a pseudodragon, to help with the mental image.

Please enjoy!

Bree had been in Waterdeep for a while now. She lost track of exactly how long it had been, and things were busy ever since she met Orryn, Fenn, and Solara. She now had a place to call her own at Trollskull. A room of her own, even. But Bree was still waiting for the other shoe to drop. Waiting for the others to realize she wasn’t worthwhile to keep around. That she was more of a hindrance to them all and their business. She did her best to quell that little voice of hers, stamp it and bury it down.

But at night, when she was alone in her attic room — seemingly far away from everyone else — the thoughts came to her. Unbidden, but never quite forgotten. She would climb out of her bed and sit on a chest that she had shoved beneath the small window in the attic. Sometimes, gazing out of it, looking around at all rooftops near Trollskull. Other times, she would look up into the night sky, and see a smattering of stars. Not as many stars as she knew there to be. She could remember the road to Waterdeep and how when you weren’t in a city, the sky was so full of stars. Sometimes, she climbed out of her window and onto the roof. She would just look out into the city, watching it. Feeling both like she was home and like she wasn’t. Like she belonged and like she didn’t.

It was mid-afternoon and Bree found she had nothing to do. Solara was holed up in the library, and Fenn was in her room with her plants. Orryn was tending the bar, but Bree didn’t feel like being his shadow. She slipped out of the tavern and took a stroll. Aimless, really. She was trying to get a feel for how the ground felt beneath her feet. Her boots were made of leather, the cheapest available, so thin that she could tell the difference in texture from one road to the next. Some streets were in better condition than others. And she knew how different the roads and walkways felt between the richer and poorer areas of the city. Bree closed her eyes, focusing hard on ground beneath her feet, trying to encourage them to memorize how the ground felt.

She walked right into the side of a building, and it hurt. Bree opened her eyes, and craned her neck up to see on the sign, a picture of a book. She peered through the windows, and sure enough, shelves upon shelves of books lined the space. She didn’t think about it and walked in.

“Can I help you?” Asked the oldest halfling that Bree had ever seen. Her voice sounded ancient, and Bree realized that she was staring.

“Oh, uh… sorry. Just… looking.” Bree mumbled, feeling ashamed.

The halfling stared at her.

“I’ll chop your hands off if you steal anything,” the old one threatened.

“I won’t,” Bree promised, and she didn’t. What she did instead was spend hours among the shelves, feeling a strange pull towards the books. Her fingers itching to take one, but she heeded the old halfling’s warning, and instead of nicking the book like her fingers wanted, she paid for it.

It felt heavy in her hands as she walked out, as her coin purse felt lighter. She couldn’t read, and she didn’t know what she would do with the tome.

Bree was outside of Trollskull when she heard the shouts of children. She wasn’t too concerned, Orla had a pack of kids, and their friends, in and out of her house at all hours of the day. There was often the sound of shouting. She had learned that silence was when she ought to worry The shouting died down and Bree stood up, stretching. She then moved towards where the shouting had been, thinking she might see if the kids wanted a snack. She enjoyed cooking and baking for the kids. They could be harsh critics, but they were also always willing to try whatever it was she made, even if it looked gross.

But when she rounded the corner, she was surprised to see a single kid — not quite a teenager, but close — seated on the ground, furiously wiping at their face. Wiping at tears, Bree assumed.

“Are you okay?” Bree asked.

The kid looked up, startled, and Bree could see their face turning red with embarrassment.

“I’m fine,” the kid sniffled.

“You don’t look it,” Bree said, realizing she was pointing out the obvious. The kid looked at her.

“Fine… I… Bram said that I can’t come with him n’ his friends on the account of me being a girl. That I won’t be able to keep up with ‘em.”

“What are they doing?” Bree asked, her head tilting to the side like a confused Copper.

“Tryin’ to break into an abandoned building,” The girl said, and then she clamped her hands over her mouth. Like she had said something she shouldn’t have. Bree knew it was dangerous, and foolish, for the kids to be breaking into an abandoned building. They could get hurt. But Bree also remembered all the dangerous places she had gone to as a kid. And, maybe, if she taught the girl a thing or two, then the girl could teach the arrogant Bram a thing or two.

“I could help you,” Bree offered, and the girl looked confused.

“Help me with what?”

“I could teach you how to break into buildings. You’d scare the hell out of your brother and his friends. I could teach you how to do it proper, and how to be careful about it so you don’t hurt yourself.”

The girl was looking at Bree like she didn’t believe her. Bree wasn’t sure what part the girl didn’t believe, and it rankled some, but she tried to ignore that feeling.

“What’s in it for you?” The girl asked suspiciously.

Bree hesitated before answering. She was on the verge of offering the girl food whenever she wanted. Baked goods too! But then words tumbled out of her own mouth, words that took her by surprise. The human was no longer the only one blushing.

“You could teach me how to read.”

Shame burned deep. Bree looked down at her worn and thin leather shoes. She didn’t want to see the scorn and cruel amusement on the girl’s face. She had gotten used to looks like that, but they still hurt. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, the girl spoke up.

“You have a deal. Should we shake on it?”

Bree held out her hand, and they shook on it. It was an hour later that Bree learned the girl’s name was Elle.

Not A Finisher

I have a confession to make. My confession is: I don’t know how to finish novels and stories.

I have ideas galore, inspiration in abundance, and the drive to start. I can get pretty far into a project, and then… and then… I stop. I lose track of what I am working on. I lose the motivation to figure out the rest of the story, as a new idea beckons me, teases me with its newness and how easy it is to start something. I fall in love with new characters and stories with ease, and then I struggle, I place the older ideas on the back burner, always with the promise of returning to it. Yet, I rarely return to it, or if I do, I start over. Ignoring a lot of what I wrote before except for the world-building. Then those ideas stagnant and instead of pushing through, instead of trying to figure out an actual damn plot and not just a series of scenes that supposedly connect, I move on.

Even with my prompts, I don’t necessarily have an ending to them. There is always the chance that the story can continue. I don’t feel as much of a need to wrap it up in as neat of a bow as, say, a novel. I know novels do not need endings. There can always be the option of continuing the story. But prompts work for me because I keep them relatively short. I write a snapshot of characters who crawl into my mind. Characters who want some part of their stories told, but aren’t too fussy if at most it is 2,000 words.

Despite being a consumer of stories, I suspect I don’t really know how to tell one. That there is some disconnect in my brain. I understand the steps. I understand what readers look for. I understand what I like as a reader, and the stories that hold me captivated, and yet putting that understanding into practice, I flounder.

Maybe I am not supposed to be a novelist. Maybe I should just stick to the fun I have in writing prompts, in writing those snippets of stories that rattle in my heart and mind. Get my need for validation by posting them here on the blog and leaving it at that. I love to write. Publishing a novel, of having my name on a physical book, sounds amazing — but maybe, maybe I’m just not that person. Maybe I need to play to my strengths, which are half-baked ideas and snapshots. Maybe it is time to ignore the voice that whispers to me that not having anything truly published is a sign of failure.

Why does being published and making money off of my writing seem like a sign of success? Why do I feel the need to monetize something that I love? Would the act of making money off of it suddenly mean I am good at it? But isn’t it all subjective?

I don’t have answers to any of these questions… at least, not for myself. I know though; I want to prove myself wrong. I want to take an idea and see it through. I want to figure out the ending, and the middle bits. I want to figure out how to tell a story that is cohesive. I want to finish something that I have started instead of letting it languish and die.

So, this year, like every other year for who knows how long, I aim to finish a story that I started. I’m not going to call it a novel. I don’t know how long it will be. Maybe only 5,000 words. Maybe 100,000 words. No worries of polishing it up this year. No worries about making it perfect. Just a story that has something of a clear beginning, a middle, and an end. Something that makes some sense.

And I won’t worry about those other questions. I’ll continue to write for the love of it and the need of it. And hopefully, finish a damn story.

If you stuck around for this entire ramble, I thank you. How do you finish stories?