January Photo-prompt Round-up

Stefan Keller

Thank you to everyone who participated! I felt warm all over reading your responses despite the image’s wintry chill. Below is the round-up of all the January poems, flashes, short stories, and some artwork too! If I missed yours for some reason, please add a link in the comments and I’ll happily reblog. I invite everyone to enjoy some unique stories and meet some wonderful writers. I’ll post February’s prompt tomorrow!

 January Round-Up

Jerry Packard – Ice Dragon

Dawn – Frozen Giant

Balroop Singh – A Craving

Jomz Odeja – The Sacrifice  

Teagan Geneviene – Ice Dragon

Sue Vincent – Even Mountains Mourn

Geoff Le Pard – Little Helpers

Pensivity – Untitled

Dorinda Duclos – Frozen in Time

Carol Forrester – This Terrible Thing Called Hope

Fandango – The End of the Gods

Robbie Cheadle – Glass Mountain

Trent McDonald – Cold War

Anita Dawes – Ancient Evil

Anneberly Andrews – Kalaallit Nunaah

Kelvin Knight – Iceman

Barbara – No Guts – No Glory

Sheri Kennedy – Winter’s Pilgrims

Nick Rowe – Ice Mission

Cepcarol – Banished

Marje Mallon – The Old Man of Snow and the Snow Snake

Chelsea Owens – Directions from a Druid

Jordan Fasheh – Ice Giant Gnuri, A Creation Myth

Violet Lentz – Dragonlord

Venkyninja – Mission Gandalf

Relax – Playing Along

Colleen Chesebro – The Polar Shift

Helene Vaillant – Illusion

Virinchi – Star Wars, The Kyber Quest

Jane Dougherty – The Third Coming

Michnavs – Hey!

Cosistories – The Cold Alone

Tora Ellis – Gaiana

H.R.R. Gorman – A Missive from Dr. Stokes of Attenhold University

Jan Malique – Shambhala

Jessica Bakkers – Of Stone and Ice

Suzanne – Forgotten Stories, Forgotten Voices

Louise Brady – Fall of the Ice Giant

Greg, Almost Iowa – The Oracle

Himani Kaushik – The Creator

Bob Fairfield – The Titan Muse

Kerfe, Method to Madness – Near

D. Wallace Peach – Dead Planet

 

And a couple of bonus posts by inspired writers:

Pamela Wight – Do We Dare…?

Robert Goldstein – Haiku One: A Blue Grey Day 

And a straggler who missed the deadline but is worth the visit:

Hugh Roberts – The Riddle of Twelfth Night

 

Diana’s January Story: Dead Planet

via Pixabay by Stefan Keller

Dead Planet

Our planet died, for no living thing can thrive forever beneath the grinding thumb of neglect. But the blue squalls and wind-carved rime weren’t the first to herald a long overdue demise. We endured fires, then the parched ash and dust of rainless drought. Snow seemed almost a blessing until summer never returned.

Now we trek south, burdened only by the essentials, all luxuries of the past abandoned along the way. Lighten the load. Always lighten the load. Learn to survive with less because that’s become the single, intentional goal. To survive.

I wonder, do the southerners trek north? Will we meet in the middle and goggle at each other, our doom reflected across the narrow gap separating our frozen breaths? These are the things I ponder as my snowshoes cut a jagged groove through the crust.

We reach the mountains’ divide. Finally. Ahead stretches a white tundra, a wind-scoured wasteland. The moon hangs in the sky, thin as spilled milk. Far ahead something unnatural rises from the barren land, and I take it as a sign, an assurance of progress. I aim my feet in its direction.

A small chuckle escapes my chest, a white cloud of warmth. Despite my misery, I still nurture a spark of hope deep in my heart, a promise as bright as midnight fire. Even amidst the endless days of frost and cold and muted color, the world is beautiful, and I long to believe that the gods haven’t forsaken us. Our ancestors cursed us, and we have made mistakes indeed, but salvation must lie ahead. This can’t be the end of everything, can it—our planet a sparkling blue orb, spinning onward, devoid of life?

I sweat beneath my coat and yet my toes are numb, both portending danger. But I cannot die. Not with the gods watching over me. Not with the prayers that I drop like cairns along my trail. The bodies we have left in the snow say otherwise, but I will not accept it. I cannot.

The distant monolith draws nearer, a pale blue mountain, sharp as a dog’s tooth. Its final shape eludes me, but I know it is something unnatural, something fashioned by man. I should rest, tend to my feet, but I quicken my pace. The others lag behind me, but my tracks are simple to follow. If I possessed the strength, I would run.

There is a point in most lives, I think, when we must accept our failures. When we realize there is no turning back the hands of time, no do-overs, no choices but to recognize that our wishes are as ephemeral as our breath. I reach that moment of clarity when I come close enough to decipher the frozen shape. Our gods too have perished in this desecration. I hang my head and march onward, knowing I will die before sunrise.

**

This is the last of the January stories.
Sorry to end on such a dreary note!

Stay tuned for the February prompt on the 1st.

I won the Terrible Poetry Contest!

pixabay image

I’ve posted about Chelsea Owens’ Terrible Poetry Contest before. It’s ridiculously fun, and I try to participate every chance I get.

Well… this week I WON. Finally. After weeks of terrible effort. I’m so honored to be chosen as the terriblest poet among a bunch of astonishingly terrible poets. The prompt was annoying sounds (or something like that).

And now, on to the winning terrible poem, which I’m honestly embarrassed that I wrote (not really):

Poots

There once was a hairy old coot
Who loved to squeeze out a poot
It was stinky and smelly
Gurgled like jelly
And popped off a sound like a toot

But he wasn’t close to the worst
My granny caught poots in her purse
She saved up the sound
For when grandkids came ‘round
Then out of her purse they would burst

Now MY poots are dainty as roses
No trouble for delicate noses
They make a small putter
Wheeze or soft flutter
But they won’t curl your hair or your toeses

**

I encourage anyone who loves to read or write terrible poetry (or just loves to laugh) to follow her and give her contest a try. 🙂 Plus she has a great blog. Thanks, Chelsea!

Fall of the Ice Giant #shortstory #sunscribbles (Prompt: Go)

Some of the prompt responses could be the start of books. Louise offers up some less than noble characters with a dose of banter and action. Enjoy.

The Dragonspire

Welcome to Sunday Scribbles!

Each week I post a single word writing prompt on Twitter, #sunscribbles, and sometimes I write a short story to go with it. The prompt this week is Go.
sunday scribbles writing prompt 20th jan 2019 goIntroduction: Sunday Scribbles Writing Prompts
Past stories: Sunday Scribbles Short Stories

It’s been ages since I’ve written a short story, and I was in a bit of a slump. Thankfully Diana came to the rescue with her new monthly picture prompt feature:

image for go

There are so many talented responses already, and I can’t wait for the list at the end of the month to check out any I’ve missed 🙂 I had a lot of fun writing my own version too!

fall of the ice giant

Fall of the Ice Giant.

The dimly lit tavern heaved with patrons, most, if not all, lowlifes and crooks, yet here, in this run down establishment, Serena knew they were safer than anywhere else. Thieves never…

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Forgotten stories, forgotten voices

Another completely different response to the prompt. Enjoy!

Being in Nature

On my way to finding new stories and speculative fiction I take a look back at an old forgotten tale.

Zeus, the ancient Greek god that ruled Olympus was a jealous old man.  Mention of his name still strikes a chord with many though mostly the stories of his exploits are now forgotten.   These days he is remembered as a legendary character, a frozen relic from another time and place.

One story about Zeus has all but vanished from our trove of myths and legends.  That story is the complicated relationship between Zeus and his first wife, Metis (pronounced Meetus).

Metis was one of the original Greek gods and goddesses, the Titans.  Chronus, the father of Zeus was also a Titan.  When his wife Rhea gave birth to a son Cronus feared that the child would overthrow him.   To prevent this he swallowed all five of his children.    When…

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Of Stone and Ice – A Writing Prompt Short Story

Will the old guy save the world? A cliffhanger from Jessica

Jessica Bakkers

So, I’ve just discovered the very fabulous D Wallace Peach’s Speculative Fiction Writing Prompt – an opportunity for spec fic writers to get their groove on and have their stories reblogged on Diana’s website, Myths of the Mirror. HOW HAVE I MISSED THIS UNTIL NOW??!

Why does this excite me so much? Well, not only is spec fic my jam, Diana’s website is the stuff of magic and myth. She’s a wonderful and prolific author, and about the nicest lady you could come across. So, pop over, say g’day and join in the writing prompt fun.

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Of Stone and Ice 

Professor James O’Neil never dreamed he’d be hiking across an arctic terrain in his seventies; the last, great hope of the world on his shoulders. Then again, O’Neil never dreamed he’d be alive to see the sweeping prairies and fields of Kansas turned into an ice-covered apocalypse. Yet the…

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Does what you Read impact what you Write?

Isn’t he adorable?

I’m working on the first draft of a trilogy that I started with NaNoWriMo and hope to have tapped (vomited) into the laptop by the end of April. Six months to crank out 3 drafts is quick, yes, but when I say “first draft,” I mean it. Thus far, my drafts are ugly, warty little toads that will require months at the gym and endless hours of cosmetic surgery to transform into princes.

For me, writing a first draft is completely different than later drafts and far more stressful. It’s the foundation of the story on which the cozy cottage, haunted mansion, or crystal palace is built. Everything that follows depends on it. A poor foundation causes all kinds of problems and takes a ton of work and time to correct, especially when there’s a sagging house perched on top of it full of cracks, holes, and leaks.

To use another metaphor, it’s the skeleton that later drafts will flesh out with organs, bones, and complex systems, all integrated and functioning in harmony. If my first draft has the skeleton of a gerbil, I’m going to have a tough time making my end product look like rhinoceros.

During a first draft, the plot and conflicts take shape, the characters come to life and assert themselves, and for many of us, our imaginary worlds become more solid. Another aspect that I experience vividly is the development of the book’s “tone.” Yes, finally, getting to the point of this post.

I can’t read a humorous book while writing the first draft of a dark and twisted story full of evil souls. Why not? Because inevitably, some character will get snarky and sarcastic and start cracking jokes.

Likewise, if I’m writing something lighthearted, I’d better not be reading a book that gives me the creeps, has me blubbering over the plight of refugees, or is so long-winded I fall into a reading-coma (Faulkner, for example).

Maybe I’m overly sensitive, but I notice that my writing reflects my mood as well as the place where my imagination is spending its off hours. If I want to write dark, I had better be reading dark. While writing The Bone Wall, I read Joe Abercrombe and Mark Lawrence, to name a couple favorites.

While writing The Sorcerer’s Garden, a lighter book than I usually attempt, I read Scott Lynch who crafted some very witty characters in his Gentleman Bastards series.

The same choice applies to genre. While writing a fantasy first draft, I read fantasy – almost always the work of respected, successful authors that I’d stalk if I met them in person. Since I’m too busy writing, I just stalk their books. I’m convinced that what we read while writing our stories can inspire and teach us how to write them better. Who ever said that writers don’t need to be readers too?

What do you read while working on a first draft? Do you notice an impact on your writing?

 

A Missive from Dr. Stokes of Attenhold University

A story of ancient discovery. Enjoy!

Let Me Tell You the Story of...

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I flexed my fingers beneath the sealskin gloves.  Tarileah, the elflord who hiked before me, didn’t have to wrangle such thick clothing, his body being made for extreme climates such as these.  “Storm’s clearing, eh?” I asked, hoping to inject some cheer.

Tarileah responded with a shout just over his shoulder, “Can your human eyes see it yet?”

“See what?” I asked.

“Hurgruld Mountain.”  Tarileah pointed ahead, through some mist.  “I can see unnatural shapes ahead.  We might approach today, perhaps tomorrow if we must camp.”

I squinted my eyes, but I saw nothing, try as I might.  The dwarven mountain was surely in that direction, and I could believe Tarileah wouldn’t lie about his excellent sight, but my senses couldn’t detect the mighty, dwarven Hurgruld.

The dwarves create magnificent things and leave fantastic vistas behind them wherever they go.  After they’ve strip-mined the inside of their mountains, emptied every…

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