Wednesday February 29th, 2012

The exercise:

Your word of the day is: awkward.

Woke up to snow again, just in case I might have forgotten it was still February. A lot of it has melted away already, but still.

Managed to get a few errands done anyway, including filling up the car's gas tank across the border. It's a little inconvenient, and I'm not a huge fan of the US border guards, but paying 97 cents per liter instead of $1.32 per liter is hard to say no to.


"Hello, Arnold."

"Oh! Oh, hi, Mrs. Martinez. I thought today was your day off."

"It was, but I decided to pick up an extra shift this week to help pay some bills. How are you doing?"

"Fine. I'm good. Thanks."

"And my daughter?"

"Tammy's good too. Great, really. I'm a lucky guy."

"I'm glad you realize that."

"I do! Totally. So, uh, what do I owe you?"

"Fourteen dollars and seventy-five cents."

"Jeez, they ain't cheap, huh?"

"No, Arnold, pregnancy tests are not cheap."

Tuesday February 28th, 2012

The exercise:

Two haiku about: breakfast.

February is so nice this year, why not enjoy an extra day of it tomorrow?

Or something.


No toast, eggs, or buns,
thank you - just give me coffee
and no one gets hurt.

*     *     *

Three kids to wake and
get ready - who in the world
has time for breakfast?

Monday February 27th, 2012

The exercise:

Let us begin the week with: shutdown.

Ah, what a relief - March is finally in sight!


I pulled up in front of the general store but paused as I reached to turn off the engine. A hollow feeling settled in the pit of my stomach while the words on the note taped to the store window beat their way into my brain.

Were now permanently closed. Thank you to all of our loyal customers for your years of support.

"Were," I said with a shake of my head. "Old Luke never was too good at grammar."

Of course that wasn't really the problem. But it was easier to focus on. Easier to correct than the locked doors, darkened interior, and empty shelves.

Easier to confront than the death knell that grew louder every day, signaling the end of my town.

Sunday February 26th, 2012

The exercise:

Let's see what we can do with: the siege.

It didn't get particularly warm today - barely above zero - and it's going to be a cold night. Thankfully the fireplace is roaring nicely.


Cindy had trouble hanging up the phone, her hand was shaking so badly. It was quiet in the office, a refuge from the storm gathering outside. She was tempted to lock the door, turn off the lights, and hide there until it passed her by.

This option was taken from her when Jeremy appeared in the doorway. Not that she was actually going to do it. Not really.

"What's wrong?" her head cook for the previous ten years asked.

"Sandra just called in sick." Speaking the words aloud seemed to sap her remaining energy and she dropped into her chair as though she'd been shot.

"But Jessica and Erin are out of town and Jasmine quit yesterday," Jeremy said, panic creeping into his voice. "That just leaves -"

"The new girl." Neither of them could remember her name. "She's our only available waitress."

"But the dinner rush is just starting!"

"I know." Cindy covered her eyes with her right hand. "They're going to eat her alive."

Saturday February 25th, 2012

The exercise:

A four line poem about: the feud.

Got some more onions, leeks, and herbs seeded in the greenhouse today. Then this evening, just to make sure we're fully prepared for the season, we watched Greenfingers on Netflix.


It's us against them,
So fight till you die.
That's just how it is,
Nobody asks why.

Friday February 24th, 2012

The exercise:

Four lines of prose about: innocence.

Kat and I visited a farming friend in Cawston today for some mutual assistance. With her partner out of town until April we offered to come over and help out with early season preparations.

In return, because she's been at this a lot longer than we have, and is very familiar with organic methods, she's helping us in our transition to more organic practices.

It was quite a bit of fun, even if the wind made the outdoors portion unpleasant.


It begins as a soft cry. Unanswered, it transforms into an ear-splitting scream. He is hungry and knows no other way to express himself.

He didn't mean to start an argument.

Thursday February 23rd, 2012

The exercise:

The theme for today: after the disaster.

More gorgeous sunshine today. So, of course, they're calling for snow tomorrow.


The day after the world ended the sun appeared over the horizon as though nothing had changed. Just business as usual. Get up. Eat. Go to work. Act as though it's all okay.

But everything was most definitely not okay.

The sun illuminated not bumper to bumper traffic but empty, silent streets. Instead of reflecting off the windows of majestic skyscrapers, it was absorbed by ruins, debris, destruction.

Our favorite star shed no tears at this sight. It merely continued on its westward journey, out beyond the city limits. To the burning forests and blackened farmland.

There was no curiosity. No fear. No anger.

Just a certainty that, once enough time had passed, humans would return. Evolve. Conquer.

And that in the end, nothing would change.

Wednesday February 22nd, 2012

The exercise:

Today we play around with: the bet.

Beautiful day here, with the thermometer nudging 17 degrees during the early afternoon. We even had our first onion sprouting up through the dirt in the greenhouse already!


The cards sat face-down on the table between us, partially obscured by my opponent's cigarette smoke. It was her turn to bet and she was eying my stack of chips as though it was a potential lover.

Check that. More like a guaranteed lover, who was already naked in her hotel room, just waiting for her to collect him. Or her, I suppose.

"What do you have left?" she asked, running a finger along the top of her much larger pile. "Two thousand?"

"Twenty-three hundred," I said, looking anywhere but at her cleavage.

"Hmm." Somehow she made it sound like a purr. I thought about dead babies.

"Bet or pass, my lady?" The dealer did not appear to share my qualms in regards to admiring the cut of my opponent's dress. Lucky prick.

"I think I shall make this fine young man," she said as she pushed twenty-three one hundred dollar chips into the pot, "go all the way in."

I took a moment to collect myself, hoping the haze of smoke in the room concealed my blushing cheeks. Then I added the remainder of my money to the pile in the middle of the table.

"I thought you'd never ask," I said, flipping over my cards to reveal my pair of aces.

Tuesday February 21st, 2012

The exercise:

Two haiku about: creatures in the night.

Kat and I made the trip up to Penticton this morning to run some errands and visit with a friend. The weather was pretty crap - a whole lotta grey, some rain, some snow, some slushy garbage on the roads - but we managed to get what we needed to do done.


They keep silent watch
with glowing eyes and white breath,
ever poised to strike.

*     *     *

They fascinate us,
with their small homes with locked doors.
What's wrong with the woods?

Monday February 20th, 2012

The exercise:

The challenge for today shall be: the dare.

Struggling my way into my next writing project. The start is always the hardest part, it seems.


"It's just a harmless garter snake."

That didn't change how Bobby felt about it.

"Ain't like it's poisonous or nothin'."

Still. It just seemed kinda pointless and mean.

"Look, we'll catch it for you and everthin'. All you gotta do is stuff it through Mrs. Thompson's mail slot, ring her door bell, and run like stink."

But what if she has a heart attack?

"Don't be a chicken, Bobby. Do you want the whole school thinkin' you're a big wussy?"

Well, no. But that's how he was feeling.

Sunday February 19th, 2012

The exercise:

Let's see what we can do with: the race.

Did a little bit more work in the greenhouse this afternoon, but mostly it was a pretty relaxed day. Went for a walk with Kat this morning; was a bit chilly but not bad, I suppose. You know, considering it is still February.


Cody took up his position on the starting line, not bothering to look at either of his opponents. He knew that seeing Peter's scrawny legs would make him overconfident, while Ben's scowling face might cause him to wet his pants.

Better to just stare at his feet and await the starting signal.

"We all understand the rules here," Mike said from off to one side where he was leaning on his crutches. He'd been forced out of the race by a sprained ankle he'd suffered the day before. "First one to the end of the block and back is the winner."

"And no shoving or tripping allowed," Peter added, giving Ben a hard stare.

"Whatever." Ben sounded bored, as though the result was never in doubt.

Cody ground his teeth together and tried to remain focused. He couldn't afford to let his anger towards that jerk get in the way of his feet. This was too important.

"You all look ready, so let's get this over with." Mike sighed, looking toward the end of the block as though he might try it despite his injury. "All right? First one back to me gets to kiss Mary Wilson. On your marks... get set... go!"

Saturday February 18th, 2012

The exercise:

A four line poem about: pride.

We started working in the greenhouse this morning, seeding up a few flats of onions, leeks, thyme, and rosemary. Then this evening we went for dinner at the Sonora Room Restaurant, the place we've been selling our produce to the last couple of years.

They've just opened up again after being closed for a couple of months for their winter break. The food was fantastic and we felt like we were welcomed back like family.

It's been a pleasant, farming kind of day.


Just this one time,
For the sake of our goal,
I'll ball it up tight
And swallow it whole.

Friday February 17th, 2012

The exercise:

Four lines of prose about: cyborgs.

This prompt was inspired by a commercial I heard on the radio the other day. I can't remember what it was for, but even though it was pretty stupid it still managed to make me smile.

Plus it made me realize I hadn't used this one before. So here we are.


Rick_485 slowed as his apartment building came into view, the hydraulics in his legs responding to his silent command. Other commuters streamed past him, mechanized legs propelling them effortlessly onward, their destinations deeper into Sector C5.

His internal clock informed him that the fifty mile commute had taken precisely twenty-nine minutes and thirty-seven seconds. Five seconds slower than yesterday, which had already been eight seconds slower than the day before - more than enough evidence to warrant a visit to his mechanic.

Thursday February 16th, 2012

The exercise:

Today's writing assignment: gym class.

You get a couple of 12 degree days in a row and a fellow gets to thinking spring has arrived. Then you wake up to snow falling from the sky and a fellow remembers it's still February.


Physical Education,
That's their name for this crime.
Legalized Cruelty -
No one asks, but that's mine.

Basketball again today?
That means we're picking teams.
Please let me be a captain,
Or I'll be last, it seems.

Number One Jock and his girl,
Of course it wasn't me.
Now my only hope is for
Someone to take pity.

No such luck, I'm here alone -
My name is never called.
I join a team by default,
Knowing I hate them all.

Wednesday February 15th, 2012

The exercise:

The first line prompt is one I don't use nearly enough. Consider this a step toward attempting to make up for that.

So take the opening line I've come up with for you and then go wherever it leads you. Here it is:

It's a strange thing, seeing my face on a poster beneath the words WANTED: Dead or Alive.


It's a strange thing, seeing my face on a poster beneath the words WANTED: Dead or Alive. Not that I don't deserve it. Of course I do. The things I've done... well, you can see for yourself. They're all listed right up there, under my picture.

The stuff they know about, at least.

Odd. That's what it is. To realize that this great country has sanctioned my death. Given permission to any yokel with a good eye and a steady hand to gun me down.

Seems to me a man could get his start like that. Enjoy that power a bit too much, crave the chance to wield it again. Might end up on one of these posters himself one day. It don't take much dirt to turn a white hat black.

Dangerous thing, that brand of justice. Bit like walking in circles, expecting to end up somewhere different next time around.

Ah, but what do I know? I'm a wanted man, but not for my company or cleverness. So I'll just be moving on, before anyone in this town tries to play hero.

Tuesday February 14th, 2012

The exercise:

Happy Valentine's Day! Write two haiku about: heaven.

Hey, I warned you I'd probably forget.


All around I see
smiling faces, just for me...
except Val. That bitch.

*     *     *

Where is that music
coming from? It's like angels
singing! Right... that's us.

Monday February 13th, 2012

The exercise:

Write something that has to do with: the pharmacy.

It almost felt like spring today. More of that please.


Edgar unlocked the front door and flipped on the lights. It wasn't a large shop, just three rows of over-the-counter medicines and a booth at the back for prescriptions.

It was here that Edgar would spend the next ten hours, standing on aching feet and having his ear talked off by lonely pensioners.

There would be no one to give him a break, not even for lunch. He'd been forced to fire Joanne after he discovered that she doled out prescriptions with a firm belief in the 'one for you, one for me' system.

Pinning his name tag to his shirt with a resigned sigh, Edgar began his daily count. Only 598 minutes to go.

Sunday February 12th, 2012

The exercise:

Your topic for the day: the video.

I wouldn't be surprised if you've seen this already, but just in case:

OK Go is certainly known for their music videos. The one for Here It Goes Again was the first I'd seen from them and it has definitely stuck with me.

This one though? Holy. Moly. Ridiculous.

Anyway. Your writing doesn't have to have anything to do with it. Mine doesn't. But I would not blame you if yours does.


Detective Anderson was the one who found it. Lurking at the bottom of an unmarked cardboard box at the back of the bedroom closet, underneath sweaters and scarves and mittens.

The tape was unlabeled as well, but he knew immediately that its contents would shed light on the case. It was like it was looking up at him the way a child would when he was caught in the middle of doing something Bad.

A day passed before it could be watched, as tracking down a working VCR was not as simple as it once was. That there wasn't one in the victim's house gave the investigators pause.

Why hold onto a video you couldn't view?

The answer came shortly after Detective Anderson pressed Play in the police station: the tape did not belong to the victim. It belonged to her son.

And now she was no longer in a position to safeguard his dirty little secrets.

Saturday February 11th, 2012

The exercise:

A four line poem about: sinking.

Tie-ins to Friday's prompt are welcome. Though to be honest, I'd completely forgotten what I'd used yesterday when I chose this one.

Kat and I had a productive brainstorming session at our coffee shop of choice this afternoon, working on ideas for the upcoming farming season. Which shall be here all too soon.


The punctures of an idol's words,
Offered up without thinking;
Its journey only just begun,
This ship of dreams is sinking.

Friday February 10th, 2012

The exercise:

Four lines of prose about: the yacht club.

We had a bit of rain here overnight but there's still some snow hanging around. Stubborn stuff.


They gather by the water at the same time every week. Hot air and tall tales are shared while their crafts are prepared for launch.

But they never venture out onto the water themselves, always remaining safely on shore.

The folded paper boats would never support their weight.

Thursday February 9th, 2012

The exercise:

Your prompt for today: survival instincts.

Yeah, I might be getting a little inspiration from The Hunger Games. That story is certainly sticking with me; I'm going to have to pick up the next one soon.


Anyone that knows you at all
Can only shake their head in awe,
As we all know that your dinners
Consist of chicken, bleeding raw.

You like it when the crocodiles
Eat their lunch right out of your hand,
And that a visit from lions
Would just be absolutely grand.

I once saw you play with matches
In a cardboard box factory;
You've tried dragging me to Walmart
For a Black Friday shopping spree.

On Sundays you stroll on the lake,
Though you can hear the ice cracking.
I think it's time to admit: your
Survival instincts are lacking.

Wednesday February 8th, 2012

The exercise:

Today we write about: neon lights.

I've had a bit of an up and down kind of day. About ready to get it over and try again tomorrow.


The neon Open sign in the store window flickers off and on for several seconds before finally giving up the ghost. Sally, standing behind the cash register with one hand in the cash drawer, stares at the sign, rage erupting in her eyes.

I'm surprised it doesn't come back to life out of fear.

"That happen a lot?" I ask with a soft chuckle. Well, that was my intention. It came out more like a cat coughing up a hairball.

"Only every damned night," she says without moving her gaze. "I warned Bill what would happen if we didn't get a new one."

"I guess they're pretty expensive to..." My words whimper into submission as Sally produces a shotgun from underneath the counter. Has that always been there?

"I warned him," she says again, loading a round into the chamber. If she says anything more it's smothered by the shotgun blast and the sound of the sign and window exploding out into the night.

Tuesday February 7th, 2012

The exercise:

Two haiku about: hotshots.

Though the orchard is mostly clear of snow now, there's still enough in the right (read: wrong) places to make getting a wheelbarrow full of wood through it very difficult. At least it's no longer heart attack inducing.


Taking careful aim,
The archer's eyes reflect his
Arrow's purple flames

*     *     *

School? Waste of my time.
Teachers? They're for stupid kids.
See ya 'round, losers.

Monday February 6th, 2012

The exercise:

We're starting the week off with: the score.

Though I had fully intended on doing other things as well, I ended up spending most of today finishing off The Hunger Games. I, uh, got a little caught up.

But now that that's out of the way, I can actually spend tomorrow writing or editing! Maybe.


Moving down the crowded sidewalk, pocketing watches, rings, wallets as I go, I'm always aware of my nearest escape route. A back alley. A department store with a second or third entrance on other streets. A traffic light about to change.

Always scout ahead. It's the only way to continue playing the game.

And I keep track of the score constantly. Five to nothing, six, seven. Pockets bulging. Eight to nothing, nine -


Game over. Final score: nine to one.

Now it's time to run.

Sunday February 5th, 2012

The exercise:

Let's see what you can do with: the underground.

Other than going out for coffee this morning, and a Skype chat with Kat's brother's family, I have done very little today. Oh, and a bit of reading as well. Just getting started on The Hunger Games. Enjoying it thus far.


Officer Bowen watched the crowd from his tower, the rifle in his hands at the ready. On the surface all seemed to be as it should. The citizens below kept their gazes downcast; voices were hushed in the rare moments when silence did not rule; and the displays and costumes were as drab as the state regulations required.

But Bowen still felt uneasy.

It was as though he could detect an undercurrent of rebellion. Like the crowds could rise up against Bowen and his fellow officers at any moment. But surely they would not dare.

Not unless the Underground had discovered the extent of the budget cutbacks.

Officer Bowen shifted the gun in his now sweaty grip, feeling how light it was with only one bullet inside.

Saturday February 4th, 2012

The exercise:

A four line poem about: vultures.

We enjoyed a successful trip up to Kelowna today, under mostly clear skies (nice) and totally clear roads (awesome). We picked up enough eggs, cheese, and breads at the market to keep us going for a while, along with some spelt flour for pancakes, pizza crusts, and whatever else Kat gets the urge to make with it.

Tomorrow shall be a day of resting, and maybe a few other things. Mostly resting though.


The sands stretch out before me,
There are vultures overhead;
They invite me to dinner,
But I hope they starve instead.

Friday February 3rd, 2012

The exercise:

Four lines of prose about: the jogger.

Kat and I are heading to Kelowna tomorrow to shop and visit a friend. Maybe even check out their winter farmers market if the timing works out.

Because we just can't stay away...


She passes by my front door every morning, rain or shine. I watch from the window, coffee in one hand, bagel in the other, belly straining against my belt.

Graceful, fit, tanned, she captivates me from 5th and Maple to 5th and Pine, day after day.

I want to give chase, but I know I'll never catch her.

Thursday February 2nd, 2012

The exercise:

As promised last week, today brings us part two of the list prompt, consisting of various objects submitted by you fine folk.

And now for a brief moment of honesty: I was super tempted to type 'fine folkers' up there.

Carrying on! Select any three objects from the list below and include them in your writing today:

- air compressor
- black coffee
- white stuffed cat with a missing nose
- Koala shaped earmuffs
- blue bird stress ball
- metal lily pad dish with dancing frog on its edge

Also as previously promised, here's a link to the extended version of my Q and A response.


As she sat contemplating her assignment, Emma could hear her two grandkids playing in the backyard. Dear to her heart, without a doubt. Quiet, not a chance.

She picked up the white stuffed cat they had brought with them and studied where its nose should be but was not. Erica claimed it had just fallen off, but Emma suspected Colby had bitten it off. That boy was born wild and had been progressing toward feral ever since.

With a soft tut tut she reached for her needle and thread. The metal lily pad dish that held them had been a gift from the grandkids, one she had abhorred at first. But it had grown on her, especially the dancing frog that adorned its edge.

"Well James," she said to the frog, "I've had my day's worth of coffee and it's only nine am. Let's get to work!"

Wednesday February 1st, 2012

The exercise:

The writing topic for today is: pen pals.

You can go a couple of ways with this. Feel free to create a pair of pen pals and then craft a letter that one of them sends to the other, like I did. Or you could reply to a letter someone else writes, either mine or someone in the comments, as the person originally being written to. Another option would be to do something that doesn't involve writing a letter at all, like a memory of a former pen pal, either real or imagined.

Or, you know, something else entirely. You're all creative people, so I'll stop suggesting things now.


Dear Bobby,

I got your letter last week. Sorry for not writing sooner. The teachers at school were trying to drown us in homework. Momma says you don't have schools where you live so you won't understand what that's about. Is that true, Bobby?

Thanks for letting me call you that. My poor brain just could not make the letters of your African name go in the right order. Plus if you ever come here you'll already have an American name!

I was watching TV with my babysitter last night. There was some weird show on that makes people eat gross stuff, like bugs and things, in order to win prizes. It gave me bad dreams. Momma says you don't have TV over there. I say you're not missing much.

I hope that you and your family are well. And that drought thing you talked about in your last letter stops bothering you.

Write back soon!

Nancy Williams
Watertown, South Dakota, America

P.S. I've included a picture of me and my Momma playing in the pool in our backyard. Momma says you don't have pools over there. I think you totally should. They're a great way to cool off when it gets super hot out!