The Ancient Kiss

Okay so my two words in our short story exercise were ancient and (yuck, ptooie…ahem—sorry) kiss. Here goes: I was pretty much the only one in the hall on the last day of school—the last day of fifth grade. Next year, we would be in middle school. The big kids.  And I would be one of them. I pulled the magnet that said Property of Mason Jones from the top of the locker. Next year, for the first time in forever, this locker would belong to someone else. Now, I’m not a real emotional person. Take those movies…where somebody’s dog died and everybody cried. I didn’t cry. Wasn’t my dog. But here I was getting a little sniffly as I dug through my locker tossing stuff into my dad’s army duffle bag brought just for the occasion. Yeah, it would take more than just a year’s worth of stuff to get to me. And more than just my last day at Gomer Jones Elementary at that. But this was something more. My locker was in the corner of the blue hallway, and with my dad’s cousin’s best friend being the janitor, he not only kept it off limits to everyone else, meaning I’d had it since first grade. But more than that, he let me keep my stuff in it all year. I’d never cleaned it out. While next year’s locker would have a real lock, with a real combination, this wasn’t easy sticking memories from my whole life into a canvas duffle bag. I heard her before I saw her. “I’ve changed my mind,” she said. “I’m not taking your name when we get married.” I only thought I was alone. Kinzie Papadopoulos leaned her bony shoulder against the locker next to mine and stared through her thick-rimmed glasses.  “You’re slow. You know that right? You may as well be a no-legged Testudinata. Know what that is?” I sighed. “Kinzie is to annoying as water is to wet.” “Cute. But no. What you just said was an analogy. What I used was a metaphor, and that’s not even what I was talking about.” I tossed a pack of papers and notebooks from this year in my bag. “What’s a metaphor?” “For making you look dumb, Testudinata. Now when are you going to ask me out? Moving on from Gomer Jones, I can’t promise I’m going to wait on you forever.” I shook my head and pitched a crumpled... read more

Writing Good Friendships

One of the hit shows this summer was Netflix’s Stranger Things. Set in the 80s, I reminisced about some of my childhood and enjoyed seeing feathered bangs, walkie-talkies, and Eggo waffles. Categorized as a drama/horror/mystery/romance/sci-fi, the show has something for everyone, but the kids are what kept me wanting to keep watching. I later learned the cast was required to watch Goonies, a classic 80s film with great friendships. Here’s a list of some of the relationship traits that I think are also important for anyone writing children’s novels: WARNING: If you haven’t watched Stranger Things or Goonies, there are spoilers. A Shared Goal Stranger Things began with four boys sitting around a board game. With their dramatic antics, you knew the boys loved the game, but also valued their friendship as one gave in so another could win. Then when that boy went missing, their goal was to find him. In Goonies, the four younger boys in the film banded together to try to save their homes. Conflict with “People” in charge In Stranger Things, a secret government organization and a creature from a parallel dimension try to stop them. During their hunt for treasure, the boys in Goonies run into the hideout of the fugitive Fratelli family. A New “Kid” Stranger Things gets quickly stranger when the boys find a silent, scared girl who says their friend is in the “upside-down.” In Goonies, the neglected and abused Fratelli brother, Sloth, helps the kids escape. A Test of Loyalty The girl, Eleven, keeps secrets from the boys in Stranger Things, which divides the boys’ loyalty, but Eleven overcomes her fears to help the four be reunited. A key scene in Goonies, is when all the kids and some older teens have the chance to escape from the underground tunnels, but they choose to stick with Micky and save their homes. There are many more aspects to developing good friendships among kids, but I think any TV show, movie, or book that has these four traits is sure to be a success. If you’d like to read some books with strong friendships, check these out: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton Holes by Louis Sachar Wonder by R. J.... read more

WWAT Flash Fiction – Summer & Antiquity

Welcome to the next installment of WWAT Flash Fiction, followed by book recommendations! Our subject matter for each short piece has to do with an archaeological word and romance word. My pick from the hat: antiquity and summer. Oh boy…here goes. “Once Upon A Curse” There were a few things that bugged me about Dad. First of all, he snored like a lawnmower. Seriously. I knew this because I’d been spending a lot of time sharing a tent with him. Side note…if you can help it, don’t share a tent with your snoring dad. Second thing, and this was turning into a real problem, but I’m pretty sure he was falling madly in love. So. Not. Cool. Look, I’m pretty mature for a twelve year old girl. I understand that adults need to fall in love a time or two. Maybe I know a little about it. I mean, I may or may not have kissed Jason Greenbriar behind the monkey bars because my best friend Jojo dared me to do it. I also may or may not have a boy band poster hanging on my bedroom wall. (Oh my gosh, the one with the spiked hair is so cute.) That is, the bedroom I never see because Dad has dragged me on this Godforsaken ancient Easter egg hunt. Okay, it’s technically called a dig and some academics hear the word, puff out their chests, and get really worked up about it like normal people get worked up about football. But I don’t care. I’m with the normal people. Despite all the grunting and hoorah, I at least like watching a football game better than what I’m doing now. Digging endlessly in the dirt? Who can call this a career? The real problem with Dad is that we were halfway around the world, sleeping in tents and eating things I couldn’t pronounce, and we were not even close to modern conveniences like toilets. And he had completely lost his mind. Completely. I wasn’t convinced of this at first. At first, I just thought maybe he was really excited to be doing “field work.” It was like the Department of Antiquities at the university was giving him a pat on the back and saying, “Go, little minion. Get on out there. Find something big, and then we’ll take credit for it.” But Dad was buying it hook, line, and sinker. That is, until I realized he wasn’t .That he wasn’t... read more

Tenderness Tomb

At conferences we are sometimes instructed to play writing games. So our critique group decided to try one on the blog. In Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, Vonda N. McIntyre suggested an idea she had learned at a writer’s workshop. She said to make two subject lists and write a story using a word from each list. The WWAT crew chose the categories romance and archeology. Together we constructed two lists and then we pulled a word out of a bag from each category. Lastly, we had to write a short blog story including those two words. I got to go first and my two words were: tenderness and tomb. My story is below. Alvin Schwartz collected legends and retold them In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories. That childhood book inspired me to want to try to retell haunted tales. Then a couple of weeks ago I went on a Ghost, Murders and Mayhem Segway tour in Pensacola, FL ( One story told was about the now Children’s Museum and it gave me a tale to try to retell. I hope you enjoy my retelling! Here it is… It was at 115 East Zaragoza Street Spouses Eugenio and Fannie took retreat. An unlucky fire burnt it to the ground. So they rebuilt upon the ashy mound. They named their new tavern the Gulf Saloon. Tobacco, girls, booze and a hidden tomb. Who was it that’d been bricked into a wall? An idea was easy to recall. A decade prior, Eugenio was a convicted killer. He served very little time for murdering a cigar maker. But where had he hid it all those years? Another body? Some had their fears. Rib remains were found sharply grooved. Stabbed in the chest was all that proved. For Eugenio, Fannie’s tenderness had gone. She said the Arbona marriage did not last long, He signed over the tavern, and fled to Spain. Convenient. Dead men also do not complain. For more hauntings in Pensacola you might want to check out: Brown, Alan (2010). Haunted Pensacola. Charleston, SC: Haunted America. He gives the history of the Arbona... read more