Extreme Writing Challenge #56: “Noise Complaint”

When I sat down to write tonight’s story, I wavered between a few different challenges.  I have a little handwritten list that I add to whenever an idea hits.  It usually comes in handy, but when it gets long (like it is currently), it’s really hard to decide which one I want to do!  It’s like standing in a donut shop.  Impossible.

I finally made up my mind and tonight’s challenge is that every other sentence contains exactly five words.


Ted asked his neighbors five fucking times to quiet it down. It wasn’t an unreasonable request. Eleven o’clock at night was a really stupid time to set off bottle rockets while blaring Grateful Dead at full blast. Neighbors of the fucking year.

Ted called in a noise complaint, but the cops had serious things to worry about. Drunk drivers, rapists, car thieves. Never mind the people who need to fucking sleep and be productive members of society in the morning. At midnight, Ted lost it. He threw a robe over his boxers and marched into the backyard with steam coming out of his ears.

Were his other neighbors deaf? Between the music, the firecrackers, the hooting and hollering, and the three dogs barking at the booms and pops, there was no way anyone else was fucking asleep.

Ted kicked the wood fence. “It’s the sixth fucking time I’ve asked you to shut up!” he screamed. The response was hysterical laughter. A bottle rocket soared into the sky as a man shouted in a prepubescent cry, “And it’s the sixth time we’re ignoring you, asswipe!”

Lousy neighbors they were, anyhow. They never mowed their grass, always left trash on the walkway, and they painted their mailbox to look like that squeaky little robot from Star Wars. Worthless as legless fucking horses.

“I’ve called the cops, you know,” Ted growled. His threat was maddeningly ignored. Ted stomped back inside and tore apart his bathroom until he found an old pair of earplugs crusted in year-old earwax. They were little orange failures. The spongy pellets in Ted’s ears were no match for the ludicrous shenanigans of the world’s worst fucking neighbors.

Ted, a grown man, sobbed. He cried embarrassing tears for his doomed sales pitch in the morning. That’s when poor Ted snapped.

His old aluminum baseball bat was still in excellent shape. A shiny, metallic, reliable beast. Ted was anything but calm as he cradle carried the bat like a rifle and invited himself into his neighbors’ backyard.

Yeah, this was fucking war.

“Hey man, did you decide to join us?” asked the dickhead next to the cardboard box of bottle rockets.

“Kill…the…music,” Ted snarled.

When the response was a bottle rocket launched directly at Ted, he swung the bat at an empty lawn chair. “Don’t ignore me,” he warned. He swung again, cracking the white plastic arm. At this, the neighbors cheered.

Ted began swinging like balls were coming from every direction. He smashed the barbecue grill. He demolished the ceramic frog figurines that lined the flower garden. Oh yes, and the fireworks. Ted annihilated the box of dreadful fucking bottle rockets.

The stereo was up next. Ted raised the bat, giddy with excitement as he prepared to smash it to smithereens.

Then he saw the lights. The flashing red and blue lights, lighting up the street like some sort of rave.

Then he remembered the cops. The cops he’d called to lay down the law.

Ted finally slept that night. For half an hour, in the back of the cop car that transported him to the county jail.


Writing with Siri

A few months ago, I got my first iPhone.  So far I’m rather pleased with it and I’ve found it’s a lot more reliable than my old pee-oh-ess Samsung.

What I haven’t found a use for yet is Siri.

Siri bothers me for a number of reasons.  One, I don’t like her/his voice.  If Siri sounded like Marvin the Martian or had a Boston accent, I’d be more inclined to use her/him.  Two, Siri tried to sabotage my marriage.  My husband was trying to program Siri to know “Hope” is his wife so she would dial my number when he said the words, “Call my wife.” Driving home one night, he tried to demonstrate in the hopes of impressing me.  The conversation went like this:

Husband:  “Siri, call my wife.”
Siri:  “Which wife?”

Turns out he’d manually entered my info into his phone after syncing it from his previous contacts, so Siri didn’t know which “Hope” to call.  Still, I blame her.

Now that I have a Siri of my very own, I figured I’d give her a second chance.  A shot at redemption, if you will.  So I enlisted her help with my writing.

The result?  I still have no use for Siri.  And the only writing I got out of it all was this damn blog post.

Conversations with Siri About Writing

Me:  Siri, give me a writing prompt.
Siri:  That may be beyond my abilities at the moment.

Me:  Tell me what my story should be about.
Siri:  I’m certain you’ve heard it before.

Me:  (Again)  Tell…me…what…my…story…should…be…about.
Siri:  (See below)

Note:  Not the full story.  It went on for a few screen shots.
Note: Not the full story. It went on for a few screen shots.












Me:  Siri, tell me a writing tip.
Siri:  Why don’t you tell me something instead?

Me:  Siri, do you like to read books?
Siri:  Oh, that would be cheating.

Me:  Siri, do you like stories?
Siri:  I really have no opinion.

Me:  Siri, what is your favorite word?
Siri:  I’d rather not say.

Me:  Siri, what is your favorite story?
Siri:  I don’t really like talking about myself.

Me:  Siri, do you have a favorite author?
Siri:  My name is Siri, and I was designed by Apple in California. That’s all I’m prepared to say.

Me:  Siri, can I be your favorite author?
Siri:  I don’t really like these arbitrary categories.

Me:  Siri, do you think I’m a good writer?
Siri:  I’m sorry, I’m afraid I can’t answer that.

Me:  Siri, did you know you’re not a good writing coach?
Siri:  This is about you, not me.

Me:  Siri, can we write a story together?
Siri:  Interesting question.

Me:  I’ll start.  Once upon a time…
Siri:  I don’t know what that means.

If Siri can’t help me with my writing, she’s no good to me at all.  Just to be sure, I also asked her where in the vicinity I could purchase a real fruit smoothie, and she suggested McDonald’s.  The nerve.

Google Knows the Truth About Me

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Write what you know.” If you haven’t, I’ll just assume you’ve been living under a rock and will also not know what Google is, rendering this post utterly meaningless to you.

I’ve always thought it a stupid concept to write only what you know. A serious writer, in my opinion, uses what they know as a basis, but researches what they don’t know and combines the two to make a story. Maybe not for every story. But limiting oneself to writing only what is known is a waste of a gift.

Having said that, I’ve spent a lot of time researching. Thanks to the trusty internet, it’s possible to find everything—and I mean everything—I’d ever want or need to know when I’m filling in holes in an idea for a story. It was only recently that it occurred to me just how disturbing of an individual I would seem if a stranger were to look at my Google history. Some of the things I’ve researched (and mind you, this is only a small sampling) are:

  1. How to embalm human body parts.
  2. The cremation process from death to ashes.
  3. Is it legal to abandon a newborn baby?
  4. Where is prostitution legal?
  5. Different types of small handguns.
  6. What happens when human flesh dies and rots?
  7. Prison layouts.
  8. How much OxyContin causes an overdose?
  9. What are the most powerful prescription pain killers?
  10. What happens to a child when both parents die?
  11. Reconstructive surgery for victims of NF (or flesh-eating disease).
  12. Quick murder methods other than shooting or stabbing.
  13. Art made out of body tissues and bones.

When my dad read my Impossible Words book, he made the comment that he was shocked at the dark, eerie, disturbing concepts in some of my stories. Everyone I know views me as that sweet, innocent young woman who thinks only of fresh-baked cookies, clouds in the shapes of bunnies, and bright, yellow daisies. Yet give me a pen and some paper, and you wouldn’t believe what sick stuff pops into my head.

This is probably why I like to write. I’m only violent when I kill spiders (which is self-defense, really), I don’t do drugs, and I get queasy at the sight of blood. Yet my Google search history would lead you to believe otherwise. Writing allows me to tap into that part of my brain that is otherwise hiding from the evils of the world. It’s awesome.

Fellow writers, what kinds of creepy stuff has come up in your research?

Methinks that deep down inside, we’re all a bit disturbed.  (Source:  http://www.lightweightfunny.com)


Extreme Writing Challenge #44: “Safe Place”

A lot of my friends are really into the whole “Throwback Thursday” thing.  I’ve never made my own TBT post, but I do enjoy seeing 20-year-old pictures that confirm my friends were all as nerdy as I was growing up.  (Sorry guys, we might as well just be honest here.)

While I could share one of my many embarrassing pictures o’ the past, I thought I’d mix things up and do a TBT: Poetry Edition.  Below is a poem I wrote for my grandparents when I was ten years old.  Prepare to have your MINDS BLOWN.


Okay, really…I think my writing skills have improved over the years.  Which leads me to my latest story.  I’ll let you in on the secret challenge at the end!


Abigail, what are you doing here? Everyone is staring at you. Even your mom, she looks puzzled by your presence. After you went missing, she was certain she’d never again see your face.

“Abbie?” your mother whispers as her rosy cheeks fade into a ghostly white. It’s not too late for you to turn and run back to your safe place. Eddie will be waiting there. All you have to do is turn your back and pretend you were never here.

“Abbie?” she repeats, and you know what you should do. A set of trembling arms wraps around you. “I can’t believe you’re standing here in front of me.”

Abigail, remember that day you ran away last June? As you’d waited at mile marker 219 for Eddie to arrive, you promised yourself you’d never come home. It was a long time coming, confirmed by your stepdad’s last blow to your knee. Eddie pulled up with a dozen roses and a cooler full of ice. All you had brought along was a set of pajamas, a photo of your sister Trinity, and a Garth Brooks cassette. Every mile, you turned around to make sure no one was following you. Until you awoke in the gravel driveway of Eddie’s cabin six hours later, you weren’t ready to celebrate.

A year later, you’re back because you saw on the news that your stepdad was nabbed by the DEA. Eddie tried to come, but you wanted to do it alone. As your mom releases you from her unbelieving embrace, your eyes flit up to the only lit window in the house.

“Is Trinity in there?” you inquire. It hurts your mother, your disregard for her, but she’s not the reason you’re here.

“Oh,” your mom mutters, “oh, yes, she just sat down with a cup of tea.”

It’s almost too much to bear, the thought of admitting to Trinity you shouldn’t have left her here. Inside, you find her curled up under a thin quilt, reading a book about Leonardo da Vinci.

“Are you serious?” she cries as you approach the sofa.

“I had to be sure you were still safe.” Around you are the remnants of your old life. Every framed photo, piece of furniture, and ceramic animal figurine is in its usual place. It’s a reminder that although you escaped, this world did not dissolve in your absence.

“I’m so sorry,” you whisper, unable to look her in the eye. “I understand if you never forgive me.”

“I suppose you know about Lou?”

“Of course.”

“Are you staying here?”

“Abigail?” cuts in a timid voice. It’s your mother, offering a plea for attention by holding out your cat, Sprite. “Abigail, what are you doing here?”

I asked myself that same thing, you muse.

It’s time to go. It wasn’t supposed to end this fast, but this is no longer your home. Even your mom is puzzled by your presence.

“I love you,” you say to Trinity, her face hardened as if it were made of stone. After a year of hiding out in the safe place, you’re certain you will never thrive here.


The challenge was:  Every sentence begins and ends with a vowel.

Happy Almost-Friday!

This Week’s Babble

At the beginning of February, I started keeping a journal.  It’s a really fancy-shmancy leather-bound journal my former managers purchased for me after I left my accounting job of 11 years, a year and a half ago.  I tried using it to write my stories, but it ended up filled with more scribbles and scratches than words, so I set it aside and kind of (tisk, tisk) forgot about it.

Realizing how strange my perspective can sometimes be, I’ve started logging my random observations and conversations in my journal.  Below is a sampling of what I wrote about this first week of my new-found love for my journal.

Me, to Billy [husband]: “No, I don’t want a penis wedgie!”

Anxiety: Picking the nail polish off of all the fingers on one of your hands during a 90-minute meeting.

Snow is just another word for glitter on the ground.

Sign at the Boise Hotel: “Welcome Idaho Weed Conference.” The first thing I thought of was not the pesky things that grow in your yard uninvited.

A friend tells me that while her brother was in the Mormon temple getting married last weekend, she drew penises all over his car.

Billy:  What are you doing?
Me:  Playing with your chest hair.
Billy:  There might be bits of Twizzlers stuck in it…
Me:  (Pause)  How?  They couldn’t have gone down your shirt.  (Analyzes T-shirt collar, stumped.)
Billy:  (Shrug)  I wasn’t wearing a shirt while I was eating Twizzlers earlier