Tag Archives: reading

Break Time–or, a Story Called “Cat Nap”

Tonight’s writing challenge is…

Actually, there isn’t a challenge for tonight’s story.  As much fun as my extreme writing challenges are, sometimes a girl just wants to write with no constraints.

I’ve been asked before why I torture myself with my restricting challenges.  I always give those people the spiel about how they teach me about the flexibility of the English language and help me to convey single ideas in an endless number of ways.  But the truth is, most of the writing I do isn’t constrained like it is in my stories here.  I want to share a story I would write without any limitations.  So, enjoy.  Next post will be business as usual.  😉


There is no better napping place than Her stomach. Especially on the days she wears those wool sweaters. Nothing beats the moment she grabs a book and sits on the seat built into the window. The sun hits her just perfectly and I’ll lie on her stomach from the first page to the last.

It’s always been this way. The day she brought me home, she set me on her abdomen and introduced me to a warmth I’d never known. It was a drug I never gave up. Even when I grew and I could only lie on her stomach with my paws on her chest, reaching for her face.

Things changed, though. At first I couldn’t complain that her stomach was warmer than usual. Extra heat, yes please!

When my favorite napping place began to morph into a mound not fit for comfortable sleep, I grew a little worried. Was it a punishment? Did I eat one too many leaves off of the fern in the front window? Had I left paw print evidence of my midnight adventures on the kitchen counter?

Before long, her stomach was so big and round it wasn’t only uncomfortable, but it was impossible to lie upon it. When I tried, I either rolled right off or the lump in her shirt would kick me. I resorted to sleeping in the fresh laundry, no matter how much she scolded me. Fair is fair.

I barely noticed when her belly returned to normal. The return of my napping refuge came at the price of a new creature invading my territory. It was my size and kept low to the ground like I do, but it smelled suspiciously like a bath and elicited screeches that could break a deaf cat’s ears. The creature was almost permanently affixed to the warm belly I once napped upon. I was left to perch myself on the back of the sofa and look down upon the squealing thief in my spot.

For several years I endured the inconveniences of the creature’s presence. It stole my mousie toys and for a brief period even helped itself to my food. Only after it was locked in its bedroom was I free to curl up in my usual spot on her stomach, and only if I could catch her on the sofa before she found something to scrub or sweep or dust.

I accepted this new lifestyle eventually—against my will, of course. The creature began to grow, and the larger it became, the more belly time I seemed to procure.

On a winter night, she was cooking in the kitchen and the creature sat calmly in front of the television. Approaching with caution, I surveyed the creature as I cursed the cold air that had seeped in from the outside. The creature’s stomach looked almost big enough to lie upon. It was a risk, but it was one worth taking.

There is no better napping place than Her stomach. But in a pinch, the creature is just as happy to have me on his.


Comma: A Memoir of Believing in the Promise of Every Moment


I am so excited to announce the release of my memoir!  There’s really not much more for me to say than, I hope some of you indulge and enjoy this inspirational and moving story.  Paperback and Kindle versions are both available on Amazon.

At six years old, Hope McCain learned how to make Kool-Aid—-not because she liked to drink it, but because it might one day save her father’s life. Her father was a type 1 diabetic with kidney failure, and from an early age she made it her duty to do whatever it took to hold on to him.

Now Hope reflects on the 25 years since her father became ill, and how even the simplest moments with him have shaped her life. She has watched her father endure type 1 diabetes, end-stage renal failure, a double-organ transplant, cancer, and organ rejection. His determination that has helped him to live more than 15 years beyond one doctor’s promise that he’d never see his only daughter graduate from high school, has given Hope a unique appreciation for the idea of never giving up.

Inspired by the Gracie Allen quote, “Never place a period where God has placed a comma,” Comma: A Memoir of Believing in the Promise of Every Moment embraces that life is incredible because there is no telling what the next moment will bring. For anyone enduring a battle with illness or for those looking for hope and encouragement during a time of perpetual worry, Comma is a reminder that every second contains a glimmer of promise.


Extreme Writing Challenge #32: “You May Say I’m a Dreamer”

This story is brought to you courtesy of my willingness to postpone reading the last 30 pages of Chuck Palahniuk’s Diary while I publish this post.  I tell ya, sometimes my willpower amazes me.  Enjoy!  The challenge is revealed at the end of the story.


Melvin was the type of man who described what he dreamed about as if he had truly experienced it.

“Melvin, did you have a nice vacation?”

“Oh yes, I sure did.  I rode through New Mexico on the back of a tiger, and when I got to Albuquerque, a woman with pink eyes and hair made of shoelaces gave me a solid gold Swingline stapler.”

“I thought you went to visit your mom in Fargo?”

Then Melvin would laugh and shove his tuna sandwich in the fridge before parking himself at his desk to check his 350 unread e-mails.

From the day he was hired, this is how Melvin conversed with us.  Most of us, after we listened to Melvin share a story about moving into the Great Pyramid with his great-aunt Louise, we chuckled to ourselves as we walked back to our desks.  “Oh Melvin,” we’d say with a shake of the head like corny ‘90s sitcom characters.

It wasn’t Karen’s fault, but we blame her because she’s the one who asked.  It was the Tuesday morning after Labor Day, and Karen asked, “Melvin, did you have a nice holiday?  Do anything fun?”

And Melvin said, “No.”

Those of us who had to walk past Melvin’s desk that Tuesday treaded with caution.  Those of us who sent him e-mails included smiley face emoticons.

Joe, in the marketing department, he cheated on his diet that day.  “Did you hear about what Melvin said to Karen?” he asked, eating half a maple donut in one bite.  “If that’s not a sign the world’s going to end, I don’t know what is.”

On Wednesday, we were sure we’d hear about Melvin’s Tuesday night adventures:  hunting zombie penguins in Antarctica, drinking radioactive tea with the President, being abducted by aliens wearing blond wigs and fedoras.  But on Wednesday, Melvin was out sick.

Thursday and Friday, Melvin was out sick.  Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, every day for the next thirty days, Melvin was out sick.  Papers piled on his desk.  Dust gathered on his computer monitor.  Dirk was the first to say:  “It’s just not the same without him.”

Without Melvin, work was just filing.  Typing.  Punching numbers into the phone.  Making copies.  Checking e-mails.

On the first day of the third month Melvin was out sick, we found Christine seated at his desk.  When we asked her what she was doing, she just said, “I can’t take it anymore.”  She straightened up Melvin’s papers and wiped the dust from his computer monitor.  She threw a foam cup into his trash can.  She told us that she couldn’t do her work until it felt like Melvin was back—until it felt like it did when the filing, typing, and copying came sprinkled with adventure.

She wasn’t alone, we promised her.

As we left Christine to remove the caps from Melvin’s pens, she shouted, “Last night I competed in a Play-Doh eating competition, and I won!”

It was our most productive work day in almost two months.


Challenge #32 was:  There are no words in the story containing consecutive double letters


On Goodreads? Enter to win my book!

Just thought I’d throw this out there for those of you who enjoy my stories.  🙂  It’s a quick read–perfect for the end of summer.  The giveaway runs through August 25th, so make sure you enter to win!


What’s Your Favorite Word?

Personally, mine is a tie between “fuzz” and “spoonula.”  But the reason I want to know your favorite word is because I’d like to use it in a story here on my blog.

Starting now (Friday) and continuing through the weekend, I’d like you to post a comment with your favorite word (you do not need to have a WordPress account to comment on my blog).  That’s all.  Easy, right?  On Sunday night, I’ll compile them into a list and I will use every single one in a story.

I’m looking forward to seeing what some of your favorite words are!  🙂


Extreme Writing Challenge #22: “Snapshot”

The weekend is over.  Back to reality.

Except, reality can hold off long enough for one more quick story, right?  As usual, you’ll find out what the challenge was at the end of the post!


Beth tells me she hates chocolate ice cream.  It was only yesterday that she ordered a chocolate cone at Dairy Queen and ate the whole thing in under five minutes.  And now she hates chocolate ice cream.

Beth is at a strange age.  One day her favorite color is pink.  The next it is yellow.  She changes her mind more often than she changes the ensembles on her Barbie dolls.  I have always been the proud mother who flaunts all the little details she knows about her child.  I talk about the way Beth eats her peas one at a time with the same interest as when I reflect on my favorite moment of a past vacation.  But that has changed.  I am no longer sure which of her traits are permanent and which are only temporary.

I purchase half a gallon of vanilla ice cream and a bottle of strawberry syrup.  All I can do as we drive home is hope that Beth will still like vanilla ice cream by the time I scoop it into a bowl for her after dinner.

My mother calls in the evening and asks what Beth wants for her sixth birthday.  I list off a dozen things and immediately take them all back.  I cannot remember the last time I saw Beth playing with any of the toys I thought were her favorites.  I tell my mother I will get back to her.

Beth wants seconds of the vanilla ice cream for dessert.  I gratefully add two more scoops to her bowl.  I think back to the day I learned I was pregnant.  My mind did not equate having a baby with individual moments like this.  I thought first of seeing her first steps.  Attending school plays.  Throwing a graduation barbecue.   I have now come to realize that raising a child is something that happens a day at a time.  Buying chocolate ice cream.  Swapping for vanilla ice cream.  Painting pink fingernails.  Stripping the polish from her nails and painting them yellow.

Beth rinses out her dish and tells me she would like a miniature trampoline for her birthday.  She is sure to change her mind sometime in the next two weeks.  But what I care about is what my daughter wants in this snapshot in time.  I call my mother and ask her to buy a mini trampoline.  Then I send Beth off to change into her pajamas as she carries on about how she liked the chocolate ice cream better after all.


The challenge was:  This story contains no punctuation other than the period at the end of each sentence.  I never thought I’d miss commas and apostrophes so much!  Then again, I feel like the narrative sounded less “casual” without them.  Interesting how that works…