Write to Life blog

Drafting–King of Prussia > Philadelphia

Millie watched Tracey as she walked across the parking lot toward the bus station. Lacy flakes were drifting out of the sky and slowly covering pavement, walkways, and the tops of cars a thin layer of white. Sunlight was sparkling in a glittering display.

The bus started to move and was soon winding its way around a small city park. Snow was threading through the trees and frosting branches and bushes. There were only a few tufts of dead grass poking their way up through the white oasis. Footprints were making paths in the fresh snow as people walked their dogs. Millie imagined small, meandering tracks by mice, chipmunks, and birds barely visible on the snow’s crust. And, further out of town, in the country side, deer, rabbit, and coyote prints were making trails in the woods. “If this continues, cold winds will force the snow into drifts. I hope we can stay on schedule.” She said to Molly who was staring outside her window at the developing beauty.
The snow brought back happy memories of childhood: sledding, making snowmen, playing outdoors, etc. Millie hoped this gift from nature had the power to pull her out of her dark thoughts long enough to notice and appreciate its beauty.

Millie stared at Molly who was still seated across the aisle next to the window with Tracey’s empty seat beaconing. The twelve-year-old was also staring, but not at her mother. She was staring toward a Costco as the bus crossed the 276 bypass. Was she thinking about their recent trip to the warehouse club, and what Christmas would be like this year?

The Costco Christmas shopping trip had started three-years-ago, December 2016, a week after Millie invited Colton to move in with her and eight-year-old Molly. What a mistake. But, like many things in life, it had started out good, even exhilarating. Memories of that first trip appeared: Colton, the carefree, respectful, loving lumberjack of a man insisted he pay for whatever Molly chose. The precocious child had long ago concluded Santa was a myth, so secrecy and surprise wasn’t a part of the game.

December 2017 was another fun-filled Saturday, the last of a three person, short-lived tradition. In early 2018, the verbal assaults began. That year ended with the first physical assault, and Millie and Molly, alone, Christmas shopping at Costco. This year, 2019, had been the same.

Molly reclined her seat and inserted her ear plugs, listening to music. Millie kept staring toward her daughter and through the window at the deepening snow. She hoped she’d made the right decision. A week ago after her and Molly’s Costco shopping trip she arranged for the giant retailer to gift-wrap and mail the items to Bird & Foley in New York City. Millie had bantered her options back and forth—torn between transporting them via car, or shipping them via FedEx or UPS—finally letting Molly flip a coin.

Now, she was convinced chance had chosen correctly. Storing them for a week at home would have been too much of a temptation for Colton. He’d ask too many questions and, if suddenly outraged, might destroy the items. And now, there was an equally persuasive reason that chance had done Millie and Molly a favor. Although there weren’t that many packages—two were rather small: the ones containing the Apple AirPods and the Wacom Digital Drawing Tablet–transporting them by Greyhound bus would have been problematic, especially given the Sofa Chair Molly had selected. It was pink, with no legs, had a high back, and didn’t fold. To say the least, even if Greyhound allowed, it would be rather bulky. Millie imagined that chance somehow knew the Sentra would die somewhere along their 900 mile journey.

Millie reclined her chair and smiled, determined she wouldn’t let anything, her mental health or the dark side of chance, interfere with this year’s Christmas holidays. Since Molly was born, Millie had never had two weeks off work during the Christmas season to spend with Molly. Yes, this year was shaping up to be the best they’d ever had.

Millie closed her eyes and imagined how it would be. Tomorrow, they’d do nothing but rest and buy groceries. On Monday, the two of them would hire an Uber and travel to Bird and Foley and retrieve the packages. While there, hopefully her boss, Stephen Canna, would give them a quick office tour and introduce them to other staff members. After returning to their apartment, they’d spend the rest of the day—and probably Tuesday—shopping and decorating their new apartment. Wednesday, Christmas Day, would be spent opening presents and trying out a few new recipes, Starting Thursday and for the next twelve days until January the 6th, they’d explore Manhattan, eat at fancy and not-so-fancy restaurants, and spend quality time together, forgetting the past and planning a wonderful future, wholly devoid of Colton Lee Atwood.

Molly inclined her seat and edged across the aisle. Her mom was in a deep sleep. “Mom, wake up, we’re in Philadelphia.” Molly nudged her shoulder, moving aside to let other passengers disembark. “Mom, we only have forty-minutes.” Slowly, Millie’s eyes opened. After a sixteen-hour day [RF, CHECK THIS], her eyelids felt like broken window blinds, rising and falling unevenly. She grabbed her phone, focusing a little. It was almost one PM. For several seconds Millie looked at Molly and her surroundings, believing she was still dreaming. “Mom, I’m hungry. Come on.”

The bus station was the worst one so far. A concrete landing with a covered awning reminded Millie of an old train station. Just outside the entrance was a giant metal garbage can with crumpled food wrappers, paper coffee cups, ticket stubs, and cigarette butts overflowing onto the ground.

Inside was somewhat better, just garbage of the human kind. Millie scolded herself for such a thought. People of all shapes, sizes, and colors were laying prostrate on black, metal benches scattered along the outer walls. Some had opened newspapers blanketed like bed-covers over their heads.

“There’s a Subway.” Molly pointed, pulling Millie along. The modern day fast food joint seemed out of place. The floors and walls were relics of times gone by, probably to a train station a hundred years ago. Molly made a mental note to record the contrasting elements into her writing notebook, and became sad. Sad that she’d never see Ms. Thornton again. Sad, that she would never again have such a caring, compassion, and competent writing teacher, one who’d take such personal interest in her students.

While the server was preparing Molly’s six-inch turkey on wheat, Millie’s cell phone rang. Since she hadn’t entered any Contacts, the cell screen read, “unknown caller.” She almost didn’t answer but then assured herself it had to be from either Matt or Catherine. They were the only ones she’d given her new number to. “I need to take this. All I want is a bag of plain chips, and maybe a cookie.” She turned, walked to the corner booth, and pressed the red answer button.

“Hello.” Millie said, sliding into the booth.

“Millie, it’s Catherine. It’s nice to hear your voice.”

Work. The past. Gone. What a blessing it would be to have such a supporter at Bird and Foley, Millie thought before replying. “Hey girl. Thanks for checking on us.”

“How’s New York?” Catherine asked, obviously not knowing about the Sentra’s death, or the nearly-as-painful bus slog.

Millie laughed. “We’re in Philadelphia. At a Greyhound bus station. The Nissan died.”

“Oh my gosh. I’ve never ridden a bus. You should try flying.” Catherine liked to poke and joke.

“So, how’s Houston?” Millie asked, thinking of how silly her ploy had been to misdirect Colton.

“Okay. A good place to visit, but I’d hate living here. Four too-many nosy parents. Catherine and husband Brett had grown up in Houston, and both sets of parents were still living.

Molly arrived and sat across from Millie. She secured her phone between her should and ear, and opened the bag of Lay’s. Molly opened her sandwich and moved half of it to a napkin and slid it across to her mother. “Eat.” Millie shook her head in the negative and pushed it back.

“I hate to tell you but felt like I should. Colton just called me.” This shocked Millie although she had known he would.

“I take it he didn’t buy the airline tickets ruse?” Millie crunched chips, looking into an already near-empty bag.

“You’re right about that.” Catherine paused. “Millie, I’m a little scared.”

“What? What did he say?” Millie regretted bringing this attention onto her best friend. It had been so stupid.

“He obviously asked where you were. You know I wouldn’t dare say. Then he said I had two days to get my mind right, or I’d be sorry.”

“So, you took that as a threat?” Millie had never fully shared how mean Colton could be, even though Catherine had seen the bruising.

“How else was I to take it?” Millie tried to make out voices that had entered the conversation. No doubt from Brett and their two girls. “You’ve said he’s capable of doing anything.” Even though Millie had told Catherine about the pending criminal charges against Colton and his friend Sandy, she’d stupidly shaped the story to indicate the two men had an alibi.

Molly was half-finished with her sandwich and scrolling her phone. But, this wasn’t the time to be completely open with Catherine. Molly didn’t know the full truth and Millie believed that was for the best. “I really don’t think he’d do anything rash. He’s smart enough to know that will would come back to haunt him.” Millie decided she’d call Catherine back when she could speak openly. For now, her best friend and her family were safe. They’re in Houston.

In the background, Brett was arguing with Carrie and Connie. Something about Joel Ostein and his wife Victoria. “Okay, if you say so. I trust your judgment since you know the man.”

Suddenly, the intercom crackled and a gruff man’s voice said, “let me have your attention.” Millie now was well aware of the two announcement process at five minute intervals: “all-aboard bus 684 bound for New York City.” Molly stuffed the last bite of her sandwich in her mouth headed to the drink fountain for a refill. “Catherine, I’ll call you later. You guys enjoy your time in Houston.”

Five minutes later, after a quick stop at an ancient, wood-floored restroom, Millie and Molly boarded the bus, tired, and anxious to end their twenty-eight hour nightmare.

Writing Journal—Sunday writing prompt

Your character is planning on poisoning someone today. Write the scene, showing who their target is, why they’re doing it, and how. Include a moment where they are almost caught.? 

One Stop for Writers

 Guidance & tips

Write the scene of discovery (i.e., tell a story), or brainstorm and create a list of related ideas.

Here’s five story elements to consider:

  • Character
  • Setting
  • Plot
  • Conflict
  • Resolution

Never forget, writing is a process. The first draft is always a mess.

The first draft of anything is shit.

Ernest Hemingway

01/28/23 Biking & Listening

Biking is something else I both love and hate. It takes a lot of effort but does provide good exercise and most days over an hour to listen to a good book or podcast. I especially like having ridden.

Here’s my bike, a Rockhopper by Specialized. I purchased it November 2021 from Venture Out in Guntersville; Mike is top notch! So is the bike, and the ‘old’ man seat I salvaged from an old Walmart bike.

Here’s a link to today’s bike ride. A longer ride on a sunny, mid-fifties day. I created a new route on the RidewithGPS APP (I named it Water Faucet for some strange reason), clicked Navigate, and received turn-by-turn instructions throughout the ride. Nice feature.

Here’s a few photos taken along my route:

Here’s what I’m currently listening to: The Second Deadly Sin, by Lawrence Sanders

Sanders was a tremendously talented writer.

Amazon abstract:

A police detective must find out who murdered a world-famous artist in a thriller by the #1 New York Times–bestselling “master of suspense” (The Washington Post).

A month ago, world-renowned artist Victor Maitland was found dead in his Mott Street studio—stabbed repeatedly in the back. With no clear leads or suspects, the New York Police Department calls Chief Edward Delaney out of retirement. Delaney is still adjusting to life on the outside, and he’s bored by his free time. He welcomes the chance to put his well-honed investigative skills to the test once again. To investigate the case, Delaney plunges into Maitland’s rarefied orbit. Following a winding path of avarice, deception, and fraud, Delaney uncovers a long line of suspects that includes Maitland’s wife, son, and mistress. When a second murder rocks Manhattan’s art world, Delaney moves closer to the truth about what kind of a man—or monster—Victor Maitland really was. But which of the artist’s enemies was capable of killing him and leaving no trail?

Singularity: An Animated Ode to Our Primeval Bond with Nature and Each Other

Here’s the link to this article.

A song of praise for life and “the smallest possible once before once.”

BY MARIA POPOVA

This is the fifth of nine installments in the animated interlude season of The Universe in Verse in collaboration with On Being, celebrating the wonder of reality through stories of science winged with poetry. See the rest here.

THE ANIMATED UNIVERSE IN VERSE: CHAPTER FIVE

Whenever I am down, I think of the gladiolus.

Whenever I ache with self-referential humanity — that evolutionary miracle of complex consciousness that endows us with the capacity for reflection and rumination at the root of all sorrow — I think of the gladiolus and its primal scream of color and its two-hundred-million-year triumph, governed by insentient forces stretching back to the Big Bang that bloomed a something out of the unimaginable nothingness.

I think of the gladiolus with its mohawk of blossoms — one-sided, bisexual, belonging to nature’s nonbinary citizenry: the “perfect flowers” — most of its 300 known species native to Africa, to which we too are native. A fierce beauty named after the Latin word for sword, known sometimes as “sword lily,” linking it to the flower for which my mother was named. A blade of blossoms pollinated by tiny wasps and long-tongued bees and hawk-moths, and then by self-conscious sapiens with opposable thumbs — a chainlink of humans holding hands across the epochs from Mendel to the young Puerto Rican woman at the Manhattan flower market, those generations of horticulturalists who hybridized and cultivated the small iridescent blossoms of the wild flower to make the towering blooms of solid red and white and yellow in my Bulgarian grandmother’s garden, on my Bulgarian grandfather’s coffin.

Gladiolus by Sydenham Teast Edwards from William Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, 1790. (Available as a print and as stationery cards, benefitting The Nature Conservancy.)

I think of the gladiolus, with which we share 98% of our DNA — that delicate arrangement of atoms forged long ago when all of them, yours and mine and the sword lily’s, banged into being 13.8 billion years ago from a single source, no larger than the dot levitating over the small i, the I lowered from the pedestal of ego.

The young poet Marissa Davis celebrates the atomic spirituality in this chainlink of kinship between us and everything alive in “Singularity (after Marie Howe)” — a poem inspired by “Singularity (after Stephen Hawking),” which the gifted and golden-souled Marie Howe composed for and premiered at the second annual Universe in Verse in 2018, commemorating the recently stardust-surrendered scientist who revolutionized our understanding of the universe by illuminating what happens to a dying star as it collapses to form a singularity — the tiny point of zero radius, infinite density, and infinite curvature of spacetime at the bottom of a black hole, kindred to the Big Bang singularity at the bottom of the Beginning — that original seed from which the universe bloomed.

Marie’s “Singularity” — which was transformed into a breathtaking animated film for the lockdown livestream of the 2020 show, a film that inspired this experimental literary-animated “season” of The Universe in Verse in the interlude between live gatherings — radiated across our Pale Blue Dot, eventually reaching Marissa to spark her own “Singularity” — an exquisite ode to our primeval bond with one another and the rest of nature.

For this fifth installment in the interlude series, in an homage to the intergenerational chainlink of inspiration from which all art is born, here is Marissa’s “Singularity” animated into vibrant aliveness by English artist Lottie Kingslake and set to song by the cosmic life-force that is Toshi Reagon.

SINGULARITY
              (after Marie Howe)

by Marissa Davis

in the wordless beginning
iguana & myrrh
magma & reef              ghost moth
& the cordyceps tickling its nerves
& cedar & archipelago & anemone
dodo bird & cardinal waiting for its red
ocean salt & crude oil              now black
muck now most naïve fumbling plankton
every egg clutched in the copycat soft
of me unwomaned unraced
unsexed              as the ecstatic prokaryote
that would rage my uncle’s blood
or the bacterium that will widow
your eldest daughter’s eldest son
my uncle, her son              our mammoth sun
& her uncountable siblings              & dust mite & peat
apatosaurus & nile river
& maple green & nude & chill-blushed &
yeasty keratined bug-gutted i & you
spleen & femur seven-year refreshed
seven-year shedding & taking & being this dust
& my children & your children
& their children & the children
of the black bears & gladiolus & pink florida grapefruit
here not allied but the same              perpetual breath
held fast to each other as each other’s own skin
cold-dormant & rotting & birthing & being born
in the olympus              of the smallest
possible once before once

Previously on The Universe in VerseChapter 1 (the evolution of life and the birth of ecology, with Joan As Police Woman and Emily Dickinson); Chapter 2 (Henrietta Leavitt, Edwin Hubble, and the human hunger to know the cosmos, with Tracy K. Smith); Chapter 3 (trailblazing astronomer Maria Mitchell and the poetry of the cosmic perspective, with David Byrne and Pattiann Rogers); Chapter 4 (dark matter and the mystery of our mortal stardust, with Patti Smith and Rebecca Elson).

Writing Journal—Saturday writing prompt

Your character comes home to find her children missing and a gun left behind with a note from the kidnappers. She must kill someone within 24 hours or never see her children again. Who becomes her target? 

One Stop for Writers

 Guidance & tips

Write the scene of discovery (i.e., tell a story), or brainstorm and create a list of related ideas.

Here’s five story elements to consider:

  • Character
  • Setting
  • Plot
  • Conflict
  • Resolution

Never forget, writing is a process. The first draft is always a mess.

The first draft of anything is shit.

Ernest Hemingway

01/27/23 Biking & Listening

Biking is something else I both love and hate. It takes a lot of effort but does provide good exercise and most days over an hour to listen to a good book or podcast. I especially like having ridden.

Here’s my bike, a Rockhopper by Specialized. I purchased it November 2021 from Venture Out in Guntersville; Mike is top notch! So is the bike, and the ‘old’ man seat I salvaged from an old Walmart bike.

Here’s a link to today’s bike ride. I try to ride what I call my pistol route everyday. But sometimes, like today, I have other commitments or it’s just too cold.

Here’s a few photos taken along my route:

Here’s what I’m currently listening to: The Second Deadly Sin, by Lawrence Sanders

Sanders was a tremendously talented writer.

Amazon abstract:

A police detective must find out who murdered a world-famous artist in a thriller by the #1 New York Times–bestselling “master of suspense” (The Washington Post).

A month ago, world-renowned artist Victor Maitland was found dead in his Mott Street studio—stabbed repeatedly in the back. With no clear leads or suspects, the New York Police Department calls Chief Edward Delaney out of retirement. Delaney is still adjusting to life on the outside, and he’s bored by his free time. He welcomes the chance to put his well-honed investigative skills to the test once again. To investigate the case, Delaney plunges into Maitland’s rarefied orbit. Following a winding path of avarice, deception, and fraud, Delaney uncovers a long line of suspects that includes Maitland’s wife, son, and mistress. When a second murder rocks Manhattan’s art world, Delaney moves closer to the truth about what kind of a man—or monster—Victor Maitland really was. But which of the artist’s enemies was capable of killing him and leaving no trail?

Writing Journal—Friday writing prompt

Your protagonist watches as a military force shows up in the middle of the night, pulling people out of their homes and loading them onto military vehicles without explanation. A fist pounds at the door, followed by the sound of a hinge breaking. What does your character do?

One Stop for Writers

Guidance & tips

Write the scene of discovery (i.e., tell a story), or brainstorm and create a list of related ideas.

Here’s five story elements to consider:

  • Character
  • Setting
  • Plot
  • Conflict
  • Resolution

Never forget, writing is a process. The first draft is always a mess.

The first draft of anything is shit.

Ernest Hemingway

Drafting–Colton & Sandy tour house, unload & attempt to hide the RAM

Pop’s place was a small two-bedroom one story clapboard-sided house built in the fifties on a one-acre wooded lot. At the rear of the house was an attached two-car carport. Sixty-feet to the northwest was a single-car detached garage, currently locked, with an attached shed used by Mildred Simmons to protect her riding and push mowers, and an assortment of lawn-maintenance tools, including weed-eaters, blowers, edgers, and seed-spreaders. Pop’s house, as well as Mildred’s and the other ten houses on this side of Ruskin Drive, faced south and were surrounded on the north and east by the 3,500 acre Busse Woods Natural Preserve, itself encircled by a paved biking trail that meandered parallel to the homes rear boundary lines.

The inside of Pop’s house didn’t look like it had changed since it was constructed nearly three-quarters of a century ago. The floors in the utility room, kitchen, and both baths were linoleum. The other rooms—a large den, a small study, and two bedrooms—had low-pile shag carpeting, either yellow or green. The latter reminded Colton of guacamole, without the onions.

“Your Pop lived rather sparsely.” Colton had noticed several bare walls in the bedrooms and the absence of any type desk in the study.

Sandy looked inside the refrigerator, then opened every cabinet door, top and bottom, and each of the drawers. “At least she didn’t take the pots, pans, utensils, and a pound of coffee.”

“Your sister? But, she took the antiques and paintings you mentioned.” That explained the house’s empty feel.

“About two weeks ago. Sarah hired a moving company. She flew here and supervised the loading, and flew back to Phoenix without even a phone call.” Sandy said, leaning against the kitchen sink.

Colton returned to the den but still within Sandy’s earshot. It was odd an American Gothic hung on each of the den’s four walls. No doubt, reproductions, since the original of the 1930’s painting is in the Art Institute of Chicago’s collection. Apparently, Pop liked the now dead but still famous painter Grant Wood who favored scenes of rural people and Iowa cornfields. American Gothic portrays a farmer and his daughter standing in front of an Eldon, Iowa house. The farmer is holding the handle of a three-speared pitchfork while his daughter is staring at someone or something to her left. Colton would never have known these details if it weren’t for a visit with Molly and Millie to the museum shortly after they started dating. It was something to do with a school research project. That too was odd, since at the time Molly was only in the forth grade. “I guess Sarah didn’t like reproductions.”

Without responding, Sandy removed a notepad from a kitchen drawer along with a pencil and started writing a grocery list. “Coffee, creamer, sweetener, beer. Do you like pot pies?”

“Only if I’m starving. Let’s unload the truck, make a pot of coffee, and keep brainstorming our strategy. We’ve got lots to think about.”

They walked through the combination laundry and utility room to the carport. Colton made two trips, bringing in two duffle bags, a metal lock-box filled with a cache of pistols, and a briefcase stuffed with bank statements and a spiral notebook Millie used to capture names and addresses of plumbers, heating & air repairmen, carpenters, electricians, and anyone else she believed might be needed in the future. Sandy made one trip with a suitcase, a smaller duffle, and three extra-large pillows.

“Where’s the key to the garage?” Colton asked after depositing his things inside Pop’s bedroom. Naturally, Sandy had chosen the one he occupied in the summers while growing up since Sarah rarely visited.

“Pantry. You best be glad Pop was organized and a creature of habit. Or, we’d be looking for a hacksaw or bolt cutters to open the lock.” Sandy opened the narrow door beside the refrigerator and grabbed the labeled key from a small pegboard filled with an assortment of keys and screwdrivers.

Since making the decision he and Sandy had to disappear, Colton wondered what to do with the Ram. He knew they couldn’t use it in Chicago. At first, he’d thought about going out of town and trading it for something else. But, that seemed to swap one problem for another, given the near-certainty investigators would check the Department of Motor Vehicles database. Ultimately he’d gone with Sandy’s suggestion to use Pop’s Buick.

Colton sat in the Ram and turned up the heat. The weather was deteriorating. Snow was thickening. The temperature was falling. He eased the truck forward as Sandy crunched through two inches of the white stuff.

The key worked flawlessly. Sandy removed the Master Lock and raised the over-sized garage door. He couldn’t believe what he saw parked inside. Colton put the Ram in park and exited. “What the hell?”

The dark blue Mercedes Sprinter van looked brand new. “Damn, Pop lost his mind. He hated traveling. Was an absolute homebody.”

“These things don’t come cheap.” Colton added, walking to a locked driver’s side door. “Run grab the keys.” If Pop was so organized, the key would be on the pegboard. Yet, the key to the Buick was under the floor mat.

“Something’s wrong.” Sandy said, walking to the passenger side, checking the locked door, and peering inside the cab. “I bet this isn’t Pop’s. Two reasons. One, he wouldn’t dare spend this kind of money, and two, he’d never have a Branson, Missouri brochure.”

“Uh?”

“On the seat.” Sandy pointed as Colton joined him and stared at the colorful front page advertising Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Dinner Attraction.

The sound of an approaching vehicle from Ruskin Drive caught their attention. At first, given the near-blinding snow, all they could see were two headlights. But then, a 1990’s Impala appeared and parked behind Colton’s Ram.

“Shit, that’s Mildred Simmons.” Sandy said, recognizing the car Pop’s favorite neighbor had purchased new when he was a ten-year-old lad.

Without exiting the Impala, and while leaning her red-haired head out a lowered window, the ancient woman with more wrinkles than an African bush elephant, half-screamed, “I’ve called the police. You’re not going to steal my van.”

“Well, that explains it. Just the hell we need.” Colton spouted, remaining in front of the Sprint.

“Rusty, it’s Sandy, Pop’s grandson. We’re not stealing anything.”

It took three attempts to convince her, including the inspection of Sandy’s driver’s license, and the correct name for the Pekingese Mildred, Rusty, owned fifteen years ago. After some deliberation Sandy said, “Scarlett.” No doubt, the dog was red.

“Oh my goodness.” Mildred said as she made a smooth exit from the Impala. “I’m so sorry about Pop, and for not making the funeral.” Pop’s death had been sudden, six months ago by heart-attack. Sandy and Rusty reminisced over bygone days with him silently regretting his near-failure to visit his grandfather during the last ten years of his life.

Fortunately, shortly after two Elk Grove police officers arrived, they departed with repeated assurances from Mildred she’d made a mistake in calling 911. The deciding assurance was her detailed narrative of the van purchased a year ago and Pop’s insistence she park it inside his detached garage. She even showed the officers her key that fit the Master Lock.

After Mildred returned home, Sandy lowered and secured the garage’s overhead door while Colton backed the RAM once again inside the carport.
Shivering, both men returned to the kitchen for more coffee. “Rusty is going to be a problem.” Sandy said as they stood with their backs to a five-grate gas heater just inside the den.

01/26/23 Biking & Listening

Biking is something else I both love and hate. It takes a lot of effort but does provide good exercise and most days over an hour to listen to a good book or podcast. I especially like having ridden.

Here’s my bike, a Rockhopper by Specialized. I purchased it November 2021 from Venture Out in Guntersville; Mike is top notch! So is the bike, and the ‘old’ man seat I salvaged from an old Walmart bike.

Here’s a link to today’s bike ride. It’s what I call my pistol route, which is my goal every day. But, sometimes cold weather says otherwise. Cold ride, 43 degrees, but my four layers helped.

Here’s a few photos taken along my route:

Here’s what I’m currently listening to: The Second Deadly Sin, by Lawrence Sanders

Sanders was a tremendously talented writer.

Amazon abstract:

A police detective must find out who murdered a world-famous artist in a thriller by the #1 New York Times–bestselling “master of suspense” (The Washington Post).

A month ago, world-renowned artist Victor Maitland was found dead in his Mott Street studio—stabbed repeatedly in the back. With no clear leads or suspects, the New York Police Department calls Chief Edward Delaney out of retirement. Delaney is still adjusting to life on the outside, and he’s bored by his free time. He welcomes the chance to put his well-honed investigative skills to the test once again. To investigate the case, Delaney plunges into Maitland’s rarefied orbit. Following a winding path of avarice, deception, and fraud, Delaney uncovers a long line of suspects that includes Maitland’s wife, son, and mistress. When a second murder rocks Manhattan’s art world, Delaney moves closer to the truth about what kind of a man—or monster—Victor Maitland really was. But which of the artist’s enemies was capable of killing him and leaving no trail?

Writing Journal—Thursday writing prompt

Your character is a sharpshooter out hunting for the first time. Describe his moral dilemma as he sights an animal in his scope and prepares to take its life.

One Stop for Writers

 Guidance & tips

Write the scene of discovery (i.e., tell a story), or brainstorm and create a list of related ideas.

Here’s five story elements to consider:

  • Character
  • Setting
  • Plot
  • Conflict
  • Resolution

Never forget, writing is a process. The first draft is always a mess.

The first draft of anything is shit.

Ernest Hemingway