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24th April
2013
posted by amber

How I spent my winter – we had a quiet winter at the Black Cat Guest Ranch and I put in a lot of time working to turn the stories of my Story 365 Project into an ebook. My husband is helping with the formatting, and I’ll let you know when it is available. It’ll probably come out through Smashwords.

We kept a low profile over the last few months, as my husband was scheduled for a hip replacement, which he had in February. His recovery is going very well.

I’ll be traveling to Sooke, B.C. in May to work on completing a second mystery novel in the series I have begun. The first is called Firekill and the second is Fire in the Hole. Turnstone Press is considering both manuscripts at this time. Watch for daily posts from Sooke.

24th March
2013
posted by amber

For those of you who are participating in today’s writing workshop, the first challenge is to write 2 – 3 paragraphs starting with the line, “In the apartment building across from theirs, six storeys above the ground, a cat walks along a balcony railing.”

Extra points if you can identify the original Canadian writer.

Post your story as a comment to this post.

20th March
2013
posted by amber

I invite all Hinton and area writers to join me at the Black Cat Guest Ranch at 2:30 p.m. on March 24 for an afternoon of writing. We’ll focus on short fiction, character development and anything else which comes up. If you live further afield, check in at this site or my Facebook page to see the writing challenges. You’ll be able to send in your writing to share with the rest of the group.

17th February
2013
posted by amber

Dear Writing Students,

You might not hear from me for a couple of weeks, as my husband is going in for hip replacement surgery. We’ll drive to Westlock next Sunday and be back sometime the following week. We’re hoping for a speedy recovery!

To keep you busy, I’m leaving you with some inspiration for short short stories of 100 – 200 words -

A man ran down the alley.

Flowers struggled to survive.

They looked up at the sky in terror.

The key to writing really short stories is to keep things simple, limit the number of characters, reign in impulses to include more than the most essential description and trust your subconscious to bring the piece to a conclusion.

Have fun!

17th February
2013
posted by amber

“Something bit me when I was just about to come out of the ocean – something big.”

The children laughed, small faces beaming with wide smiles and loud laughter. Gordon Peters was a favourite speaker at the Children’s Center; his stories captivated and entertained children of all ages, even the adults.

“Then what happened?” a little boy, about five years old, his nose running and his left shoe untied, asked Gordon.

Gordon got off his chair, and, kneeling down, began to tie the little boy’s shoe.

“Well, sir,” Gordon began, “I grabbed hold of whatever I could, because I was so afraid I was going to get pulled into the ocean by whatever it was that bit me. I had grabbed onto the back leg of a rhinoceros named Billy, who actually sold ice cream just down the beach.”

The children went wild, giggles and wiggles went back and forth throughout the audience.

“Rhinoceros’s don’t sell ice cream,” a little girl yelled from the back row.

Gordon finished tying the boy’s shoe, and then turned to look at the girl.

“You’re right, Serena,” he answered back, shaking his head, “They don’t sell ice cream.”
He hesitated, and then continued. “They sell mint flavoured pickles instead.”

Gordon busied himself, cleaning up chairs, and straightening up the toy shelves, as he always did when the children left to go home. A sweater one of the children had forgotten lay across Gordon’s favourite teddy bear, obviously keeping the toy warm and safe by whoever owned the sweater. He picked up the teddy bear, and, leaving the sweater on, nestled it on the top of the short bookshelf, making sure the toy was cozy for the weekend. Every Friday someone forgot something, only to find it safe and sound come Monday morning.

He looked around, and made sure the place was clean and tidy. Today he had planned on bidding his farewell, but he just could not go through with it. He loved the children, and was trying to figure out how to say goodbye; he had been here for many years, and had entertained a plethora of innocents, becoming as much a fixture here as the old hardwood floor. His stories were almost legendary, and children would listen as he wove tale after tale. He turned his attention out the window; the large willow trees bordering the playground swayed in the westerly breeze, dancing an unrehearsed dance filled with grace and elegance. He wondered how he was going to tell the children he was leaving. He knew he deserved to leave; official retirement age had passed by five years ago.

“Mr. Gordon?”

A small voice brought his thoughts back. A little girl, Melanie Tsui, stood by the doorway, her mother standing behind her, donned in sunglasses, holding Melanie’s favourite doll. Gordon smiled broadly; Melanie had not been here for weeks. Always a frail little child, she looked much more so today, her face thinner, her frame almost fragile.

“Hello, angel,” he spoke with love and care in his voice, “Where have you been?”

“She has been sick, Gordon,” her mother quietly said, and then added, “Melanie, can you go see the toys?”

Melanie nodded, and, very slowly, walked to the toy shelf.

Gordon sat at his desk, as Melanie’s mother told him about Melanie’s condition. The sweet child had recently been diagnosed with a form of untreatable leukemia, and was not expected to live more than a few months.

“She still insists on walking on her own,” her mother stated, her shoulders hunched, her eyes, now without the sunglasses, lined, puffy, and exhausted. Too many tears had flowed; too many hurts had left their footprint. Gordon sat, his eyes filled with tears of his own, as he watched the little girl play.

Melanie looked up from holding Gordon’s favourite bear, the sweater neatly piled back on the shelf.

“My Mommy told you about my trip?”

Gordon pressed his lips tight, tying hard to control his voice. “Where are you going?” he managed.

Melanie cradled and kissed the teddy bear. “To a place where the pain can’t find me,” she simply answered.

Gordon bent his head, sobs wracking his frame. He felt terrible, he had no right to cry, he needed to be strong for the sake of this little girl.

A small, frail hand slid into his. He looked up into the dark, quiet eyes of Melanie Tsui.

“Do you want to hear a story?” she asked.

For once, his words failed.

“There’s this place…” she began.

This is the story that Darryl wrote in response to the January 20 first line prompt. Please feel free to leave comments.

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