Stabbed with a Birthday Hat

My baby is seven years old today.  I can’t believe how fast time is flying.  It seems like just yesterday she was learning not to pee on the floor.  Although to be honest, I’m not really sure today is her birthday – it’s just a rough estimate and an easy day to remember to celebrate.  My pride and joy was found on the side of the road, so her history is a mystery.  I adopted Freya in March of ‘05, and the vet guessed she was about three months old, so December 1st became her special day.  My sister’s dog Molly and my parent’s dog Chloe also share the December 1st birthday.  Chloe was adopted the same day from the same shelter, while Molly was adopted 4 years earlier.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the Rish family enjoys celebrating canine birthdays, so it was time to party!  And since that post has brought in a surprising amount of traffic with variations of the google search ‘dogs in hats’ (seriously, who knew so many people were looking for pictures of hat-wearing dogs?!?), I’m happy to share the pictures from the parties to help satiate those looking for adorable doggies.
 
First up, my sister sent me pictures from Molly’s celebration at her house.  Here Molly waits ever so patiently (and oh so cutely) to open her present.
Molly waits for her present
 
And now she’s howling with joy at her delicious haul.
Molly howls in excitement over her birthday goodies
 
Next up is my parents’ house, where Freya and Chloe celebrated together along with their best bud Lily.  As soon as I put the party hats on Freya and Chloe, they went a little crazy.  It could be because they thought the hats were evil entities clinging to their heads in order to suck out their brains.  Or maybe it’s just because they itched.  Whatever the reason, they were not happy to be wearing them.  I hustled back and forth between them, but as soon as I got a hat placed on one dog, the other had pawed, rubbed, or tossed her hat off.  
 
It was still laughter and cajoling and sweet talking as I tried to get them to wear their hats, when WHAM!  Chloe tossed her head and the point of her hat slammed into my bottom lip.  I staggered to my feet blinking back tears.  Oh my god, I’d just been stabbed in the face with a birthday hat!  I was going to have a hideous scar for the rest of my life.  And even worse, I was going to have to tell everyone I met the ridiculous story of how I’d gotten it.  I ran to the bathroom and almost wept in relief when there was no blood.  Even though it hurt, birthday hats are designed for fun, not maiming, so thank goodness no trip to the emergency room was necessary.  
 
Now, a sane person probably would have taken this as a sign to quit.  But since this entire post is about celebrating doggie birthdays, I’d guess most people have already made up their minds about my sanity.  My battle wound just made me more determined - I was going to get a cute picture of both dogs in their hats, even if I ended up in the hospital.     
 
When all was said and done, this was the result:  
Freya and Chloe feel deep shame about wearing birthday hats
Freya’s eyes squeezed shut in shame and Chloe looking so, so, so sad.  But don’t worry, no furry animals were harmed in the making of this picture (although in addition to my fat lip, I also ended up with a bloody scratch on my hand when I intercepted as Freya was swatting off her headwear).  So in the end, I don’t think this counts as a victory.  While I did get a picture of both of them in their hats, I’m not sure if it falls in the ‘cute’ category, more like the ‘please make it stop’ category.
 
But I did manage to get one of each of them individually looking sorta cute (or at least looking like a whip wasn’t hovering over them out of camera range).
Freya waits for her birthday cake
Chloe got tired of waiting for her birthday cake
 
 
And through the entire hat kerfuffle, sweet Lily stood by watching with her hat perched on her head, never once trying to take it off.  And that’s why she got an extra bone with her slice of ‘birthday cake’ when it wasn’t even her birthday!
Lily's a patient dog
 
After it was all over, I apologized to Freya and Chloe for yelling at them on their birthday, and they forgave me with plenty of slobbery kisses.  Although I have to say, neither one of them apologized for maiming me.  But I think it was a small price to pay, since they really are adorable in their birthday hats.  Happy Birthday Freya, Chloe, and Molly! 
 
Do you do anything special for your pet’s birthday?  Or do you think the Rish clan needs to be carted off to the loony bin?  And what about Chloe – was the hat incident an accident or was she trying to murder me via party hat in retaliation for her humiliation?
 

Coach K and Duke Reach Magical 903

I’m such a proud Duke fan right now - huge congratulations to Coach Mike Krzyzewski!  My beloved Blue Devils beat the Michigan State Spartans 74-69, giving Coach K his 903rd victory and making him the winningest coach in NCAA Division I history.   He passed the record of his mentor Bobby Knight, and I’m not gonna lie, I got a little teary when they embraced at the end of the game.

Duke Blue Devil logo

The game was part of the State Farm Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden, and the first half was a tight back-and-forth as both teams seemed to feel the pressure and play a bit sloppy.  Then Duke returned from halftime and surged ahead.  They were up by 20 points with nine minutes left to play, and I was finally able to stop watching the game through my fingers.  But just as I relaxed back into the couch, Michigan decided they were back in it and made me very nervous in those last few minutes.  I can’t even imagine the turmoil happening in Coach K’s head (and stomach).  But luckily his boys were able to hold on to the win.   

People talk a lot of crap about Duke and especially Coach K, but I think the man is a class act.  I know I’m biased because I’m an alum, but I think he’s always humble and respectful, and tonight was no different.  Maybe it’s all just an act, but I think even the die-hard UNC fans would have to begrudgingly admit that he’s an excellent basketball coach.  I just wish I could have been back in Durham tonight inside Cameron with the rest of the Crazies watching the victory on the big screen.  I bet it was AMAZING!

I do think it’s funny that an unathletic, nerdy bookworm like myself ended up graduating from two schools where the athletic reputation often overshadows the academic one.  Although both Summerville and Duke are highly respected for their academics, they are probably more famous for their record breaking coaches.  As I mentioned in a previous post, my alma mater Summerville is home of the winningest high school football coach – John Mckissick.  And now here's Coach K breaking the winning record on the college basketball side, with many more coaching years left in his career (I hope!).  So even though I’m practically allergic to exercise, I’m glad I’ve been part of and had a chance to cheer for these two sports dynasties . . . and at least getting excited about the games keeps my blood pumping and prevents it from turning to sludge!

Congratulations again to Coach K for reaching such a momentous milestone! Fight, Blue Devils, Fight!

YALL Come Back Now, Ya Hear?

Y’all, when I first heard about YALLFest coming to Charleston, I was downright giddy about the chance to hear so many illustrious YA authors speak in one place.  Even better, I wouldn’t have to spend a single cent – not only were the events free, but since it was happening in my backyard, I didn’t have to pony up for travel expenses.  And now that it’s over, I’m still amazed that I got such a whopping dose of inspiration for FREE - always a bonus element of awesomeness for a penny pincher like me.  

On Saturday morning, with butterflies doing excited swoops in my stomach, I puttered down the Writers during YA Smackdown at YALLFestroad to Charleston.  Now even though I technically knew this was a young adult book festival, during the months of anticipation, the event had morphed into a writers’ conference in my head, so I was a little confused when I walked into the room and half the audience was middle school students.  Since the first panel featured the middle grade authors Pseudonymous Bosch, Kaleb Nation, Lisa Brown and Adele Griffin, the room was filled with fans so excited to see them, they were practically dancing in their chairs.  After doing the ‘duh’ forehead smack, I readjusted my expectations, and the day became less about learning about the craft of writing and more about being inspired by these amazing authors.  Just watching the kids lean forward in their seats, delightedly drinking in every word from their author idols, made me even more determined to be on a similar panel one day.

Writers during YA Smackdown at YALLFestThe day was packed with interesting panels with fun titles like: Fangs Among Friends; Demons, Witches, and Casters, Oh My!; and Reality Bites.  And the authors were so entertaining – not only were they funny, but they offered great tidbits of advice.  My only regret is that I didn’t have time to read more of their books before the festival.  I’ve been so bad about reading in the last few years, and my resolve to read-n-feed has sadly sputtered (I smell a New Year’s resolution!).  But looking on the bright side, I finally figured out what to put on my Christmas list, since it is now overflowing with titles from the YALLFest authors like Carrie Ryan, David Levithan, Sarah Rees Brennan, Heather Brewer, and Beth Revis, and too many others to name (click here for the full list of YALLFest authors and be sure to add them to your reading list).  I’m practically drooling in anticipation of reading all of them, especially Katie Crouch's The Magnolia League, since it features hoodoo magic like my current short film High Heels and Hoodoo

As inspiring as listening to the authors was, my favorite part was sharing the day with old and new writing friends.  It was so cool having my writer friends from different parts of my life coming together in one place to talk about writing and YA books.  Kathleen Fox, Lisa Downey, and Jillian Gregory Utley were there from my local writing group.  I was able to get reacquainted with Kami Kinard and Rebecca Petruck, two talented and fun writers I met at a SCBWI writing conference.  I also had the chance to catch up with Rebecca Enzor, Mina Mahal, and Sarah Turpin Leyland, local writer friends from NaNoWriMo.  I also ran into Leah Rhyne, a friend from my old job at Blackbuad, who I only found out was a fellow writer after I quit to write.  I also got to meet new writer friends like Debra Rook.  It was great to have a chance to connect with other writers when it’s usually such a solitary activity.  I have faith that these talented ladies will end up on similar panels some day, and I just hope I’m lucky enough to be sitting up there with them!

Thank you so much to Jonathan Sanchez of Blue Bicycle Books and Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl for organizing such a fantastic event!  I hope it’s just the first of many!

Were you able to attend the YALLFest?  If so, what was the best part for you?  If not, have you been to a writing event lately that inspired you?  And could I possible fit any more links in a single blog post?

Happy Halloween!

I’m guessing since I mostly write thriller/suspense/horror, it’s no surprise my favorite holiday is Halloween.  I love dressing up in costumes – my ‘usual’ is a fairy gothmother.  Unfortunately, with all the craziness of filming the movie this month, I didn’t have much time or energy to get into the Halloween spirit this year.  Although I think filming a hoodoo ghost story . . . in a cemetery . . . at night . . . the week before Halloween . . . has to earn me some bonus ‘spirit’ points, even if I didn’t actually have a chance to dress up this year, right?  But to maintain the spooky spirit, I’ve included a picture of me and my reluctant witch-y sidekick from last year.

October 31st also means it’s the last day of Rachael Harrie’s Writer’s Platform-Building Campaign.  What an amazing event Rach has put together!!  I'm new to blogging, but because of her campaign, I’ve met so many wonderful people and discovered so many fantastic blogs.  Heaps of extra special thanks to Rach for coming up with such a great idea and having the energy and enthusiasm to keep it going.  I’m sad to see it come to a close, and I'm bummed I wasn’t able to fully participate during October, but I’m eagerly anticipating the next one.

One of the awesome people I’ve met during the Campaign is Jessica Therrien.  A few weeks ago she passed several blog awards to me: the Liebster, the One to Follow, and the One Lovely Blog.  I’ve been such a slacker, I never publically thanked her, so here I am doing it embarrassingly late - thank you, Jessica!  She’s a generous blogger, a great writer, and her YA paranormal OPPRESSION is coming out in February - I can’t wait to read it!

I hope everyone has had a productive October, and that you have a magical Halloween!

What is your costume for this year’s Halloween?  How are you coping with the end of the Writer’s Campaign?  Are you like me in using candy to fill the void?

Third Campaigner Challenge - Party Girl

With all the preparations for making the new movie, this past month has flown by in a blur.  I almost missed the deadline for the Third Campaigner Challenge – Show Not Tell, but I wanted to make sure I participated in all three challenges, so I’ve thrown something together to squeeze in right before the deadline.  Here are the rules:

Write a blog post in 300 words or less, excluding the title. The post can be in any format, whether flash fiction, non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc. The blog post should show:
     • that it’s morning,
     • that a man or a woman (or both) is at the beach
     • that the MC (main character) is bored
     • that something stinks behind where he/she is sitting
     • that something surprising happens.
Just for fun, see if you can involve all five senses AND include these random words: "synbatec," "wastopaneer," and "tacise."   (NB. these words are completely made up and are not intended to have any meaning other than the one you give them).

I showed all the elements, involved all five senses, and included the three made-up words.  And even though it wasn't a requirement for this challenge, my story clocks in at exactly 300 words.  My entry is number 128, so if you like it, please go here and vote for it.  Thank you!

Party Girl

Deena sighed and took another swig from her silver flask.  She almost gagged as the bitter coffee invaded her mouth, but she needed the jolt to stay awake - the constant shushing of the synbatec waves had Girl at beachnumbed her brain.  The flask failed to keep the coffee warm, but was part of her cover, along with the short, clingy dress and forced drunken giggles.

Two days ago, a fourth party girl had been discovered under the pier, stabbed and mutilated.  Deena and her partner Bill were the best in the department, so the police chief had ordered them to stakeout the scene using her as bait.  But the sky had transitioned from black to purple to pink with no appearance from the killer.

The wind shifted, and her nose twitched as Bill’s body odor drifted from where he hid behind the dunes.  She called out, “He’s not going to show.  Go on home to be with your family.”

“It’s not safe to leave you here.”

Deena bit back a tacise retort.  “He only strikes at night, and besides, I’m armed.”

There was only a slight hesitation before Bill’s wastopaneer voice rumbled, “Fine, I’ll see you tonight for round two.”

A few minutes later, Deena sensed someone approaching from her left.  A silky voice enveloped her.  “Hello, beautiful.”

She rewarded him with a wide smile.

He wrapped a warm hand around her arm and pulled her to her feet.

She reached into her purse and curled her fingers around the handle of her weapon.

He leaned down to whisper in her ear, his hot breath making her shiver.  “I’ve got a silly blonde ready and waiting.”

She kissed him.  “Thanks, Tony.  Now we can finally get this party started.”  She yanked the knife from her purse and strode towards the pier.

So did you participate in the beach party?  Let me know where to find your story so we can all wastopaneer together!

Photo credit to Jason Nelson

The Imago’s KISS

The ThesaurusInspiration strikes me from out of the cerulean celestial sphere, but my burgeoning story is a miasma of thoughts and notions carousing through my cranium.  So I whittle at the extraneous ideas until only the essential essence of my epic remains.  Then I meticulously select pulchritudinous words that paint resplendent pictures, endeavoring to create that sublime moment of synchronicity in which the movie playing in my imagination is perfectly projected onto the gray matter of my readers.

I present my paradisiacal prose to my betas, salivating in anticipation of their enraptured reactions.  They will guffaw, they will caterwaul, their lives will be altered forevermore.  Imagine my stupefaction and mortification when their only reaction is to oscitate and dismiss it as tedious. 

Tears cascade down my visage.  I glower into the mirror, shrieking, “Why, muse, why?”  But I gird my loins, determined to decipher the modus operandi for bridging the lacuna between the exquisite narration in my noggin and the lassitude produced by my opus.  Then the panacea wallops me like a multitude of cinder blocks, and I’m electrified by my sagacity.  To help my readers luxuriate in the splendorous wonder of my story, the solution is simple: use smaller words.

*     *     *

If you made it through all of that, then congratulations on your stick-to-it-ive-ness!  For any of my blog readers who are not part of the Campaign and are therefore wondering why my thesaurus puked all over this post, this is my entry for the Second Campaigner Challenge

Write a blog post in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, whether flash fiction, non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc. The blog post should:
• include the word "imago" in the title
• include the following 4 random words: "miasma," "lacuna," "oscitate," "synchronicity,"
If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional and included in the word count), make reference to a mirror in your post.
For those who want an even greater challenge (optional), make your post 200 words EXACTLY!

I used all the required words, fit in the mirror reference, and it’s exactly 200 words.  Whew!  If you liked it, you can go here and vote for entry 159.

Since I struggle with the Keep It Simple, Stupid concept in my writing (aren’t the big words always better?!?), I thought this was a fun way to approach the challenge.  And I even learned some new five dollar words to add to my repertoire.  Uh oh, future readers, beware!

Did you participate in the Second Campaigner Challenge?  If so, did you go serious or silly?  What's your reaction to my grandiloquent post?

Photo credit to Brett Jordan

A Week Full of Happy Dances

Over the past week and a half, I’ve been lucky to receive several pieces of good news.  Not three-book-six-figure-publishing-deal good news or even landing-my-dream-agent good news, but still things that made me feel like this:


 
 

Seriously, y’all, my appallingly out-of-shape self is starting to feel a little winded from all the happy dancing.  Despite being excited, I wasn’t sure if I should share all this in a post.  For one thing, it feels a bit too much like braggity brag brag, me ME ME!  And second, I’m also worried that Karma might read this and think, “Hmm… that’s an awful lot of good news for one person in one week - I best get around to balancing that out with some giant zits and food poisoning.”

However, good news feels even better when shared with friends (especially writer friends who understand how these small victories help us keep going when the process gets rough), and I’ve made so many new friends on the Campaign that I’ve decided to tempt fate and share my news. 

It all started with the Versatile blogger awards which I talked about in my previous post.  So thank you again to Stevie, Jessica, and K. T. for getting the good news ball rolling! 

Then I was awarded two Liebster blogger awards: one from Wendy Terrien and one from Bethany Lopez.  They are two more awesome ladies I’ve met on the Campaign, and I’m honored to get the Liebster from them.  The Liebster is intended to highlight deserving blogs with less than 200 followers, and since I am significantly under 200, I really appreciate the Liebster Blog Awardshout out from Wendy and Bethany - thank you!  Technically I’m supposed to pass it on to five more people, but as I mentioned here, I’m a crazy rule breaker.  And since all the blogs I was going to award it to already have it, I’m just going to end my acceptance speech here before the orchestra plays me off the stage. 

Next up I found out my short film Saying Goodbye was accepted into the Lady Filmmakers Film Festival where it will have its West Coast premiere.  Whoo hoo!

Then I was contacted out of the blue by the programmer at another film festival who saw our website and trailer and asked to see the film for possible inclusion in her festival.  It doesn’t mean it’ll get in, but it’s a welcome change from filling out applications and sending in hefty submission fees. 

Then my casting director told me that two of the actresses we really want for our new movie both really, really, really want to be in the film (that’s a sentence with a lot of ‘really’s).

So I was already feeling pretty high on life when I found out my first campaign challenge story won fifth place!   I had so much fun writing it, and I’m so thrilled people enjoyed it.  Thank you to Rach and the judges!  Also big thanks to the folks helping Rach organize things, as well as to all the people who donated prizes.  And thank you to everyone who stopped by to read my story.

There is one more piece of exciting news, but it’s not absolutely final yet, so I don’t want to talk about it and possibly jinx it.  I know I said I was tempting fate in this post, but I see no need to wave the red cape in front of the surly bull.

Thank you for indulging me while I got my brag on.  There is a lot of rejection in both the publishing world and the movie-making biz, so it’s nice to have a week where the stars seem to align in my favor.  Now if I could just figure out a way to freeze the stars in that particular configuration, I’d be good to go!

Do you have any exciting news to share?  Do you use your blog as a place to share good news with the world?  Do you worry that too many good things happening at one time means a really bad thing is lurking around the corner? 


 

Feeling Very Versatile

On Friday, I was honored to receive the Versatile Blogger award from Stevie McCoy (aka the Glitterlady).  But because I’ve been out of town the past several days, I wasn’t able to post about it.  Then today Jessica Therrien and K. T. Hanna also passed the Versatile Blogger award to me.  I’m doing the happy dance around the room that three awesome ladies thought enough of my blog to give me this award.  Fortunately, none of you can actually see me doing said The Versatile Blogger awardhappy dance, since it’s a mortifying sight that would leave all of us feeling a bit awkward.  So a million thanks to Stevie, Jessica, and K. T.!

Here are the official guidelines:

  • Post a link to the person who gave you the award.
  • Tell your readers seven random things about yourself.
  • Award 15 newly discovered blogs.
  • Send them a note letting them know you nominated them.
Since I’m new to this whole blogging thing, I decided to consult my good friend Google about blogger awards.  In his haughty know-it-all way, Googs told me many positive things about them, but he also passed along the info that some people in the blogging community see these awards as a nuisance rather than an honor and consider them chain letters, which made me sad.  
 
I read Christopher Pike’s creepy Chain Letter in high school, so I know that chain letters are EVIL.  I never even forward those chain emails, which means I’ve racked up several lifetimes worth of bad karma/terrible luck/money troubles/romance woes/etc.  In fact, if one of those chain emails has an adorable picture of a monkey hugging a baby tiger, or inspirational poem, or hilarious joke that just has to be shared with my friends, then I delete the chain instructions from the email before passing along the entertaining part.  That probably doubles the bad juju I accumulate from ignoring the instructions.   
 
So even though I am personally very excited to receive these awards, and I think it’s a great way to help spread the word about fun blogs, I don’t want the people who receive it from me to feel obligated in any way.  So I am borrowing a page from Annalise Green and Gene Lempp: I'm passing the compliment on to bloggers I enjoy while dismissing the rules - just like I do with the chain emails.  Hopefully this won’t make my blog crash or become infected with malware.  
 
Below I’ve listed some of the bloggers who have entertained me over the first few weeks of the campaign.  Turns out most of these blogs are so awesome that others have already beaten me to the punch and given them this award, so even more reason I don’t expect the recipients to link back to me or post another seven random things.  All I ask is that you enjoy knowing you made me laugh, which is my favorite part of reading other people’s blogs.  
 
F. E. Sewell – F.E. has posts from Old Time music to thinking about character growth in terms of colors to being a zombie fighting warrior.  It was the zombie post that made me a huge fan of F.E., since I spend an inordinate amount of time imagining scenarios to help me survive the coming zombie apocalypse.
 
Sam de la Peña – Sam freely admits that his dog is the Ruling Empress of All, which automatically makes him good people in my book.  On top of that, he has hilarious posts on a wide variety of topics, including one on his hatred of the mall, which as a fellow mall hater left me in stitches.  The post also includes references to zombie cows – awesome!
 
Jani Grey - Jani also has a funny voice, and she wants to find a rich husband who’ll buy her a private island where she can read all day.  Me too!!  And she has a post where she mentions zombie clowns.  Hmmm, I’m sensing a theme to my amusement.
 
Fairview – Fairview just recently returned from a trip and has been posting pictures and anecdotes from her travels.  She has an entertaining dry wit that make these stories fun – I especially like the one about visiting the Donner memorial.  So no zombies, but cannibalism – yay!
 
Annalise Green - I laugh a lot when reading Annalise's posts, and she posts about all kinds of things including Doctor Who (love!) and scary monsters.  Humor and horror combined are pretty much my favoritest thing ever. 
 
Jill Campbell - Jill’s very funny, but her posts have lots of heart too.  I think that must come from being the mother of seven (!!) kids.  Past posts have included her love/hate relationship with Costco and using the ‘snap and point’ to get people to do what you want.  I haven’t found any evidence of zombies or monsters on her blog yet, but I give her a pass because . . .  seven kids!!
 
Now on to the seven things about me bit:
 
1.  I spent a semester abroad at UNSW in Sydney, Australia.  It was awesome.  But I was very disappointed that I lived there for three months before I saw my first kangaroo and that was at a zoo.  Although it was really cute!
 
2.  I was horrified to discover Aussies actually serve kangaroo in restaurants (as dinner, not as diners).  But that didn’t stop me from trying a bite just to say I did.  I thought it was tough and gamey, so thank goodness I wasn’t tempted to eat any more of the adorable critters.
 
3.  I have an open bite, which means my teeth don’t touch in the front.  It makes eating a sandwich difficult.  And messy.
 
4.  I also have TMJ, which means my jaw clicks when I eat.
 
5.  Despite #3 and #4, I’m a lovely dinner companion.  Mostly because I’m paranoid about having food on my face and constantly wipe my mouth so I don’t end up putting anyone in the uncomfortable position of having to tell me I’ve got salad dressing dribbling down my I'm super excited in front of Stonehengechin.
 
6.  I visited Stonehenge several years ago - one of the items on my bucket list.  I got as close as I could get, reached in as far as I could, and plucked a flower from the ground.  Okay, it was probably a weed.  But I dried it and am certain it will one day imbue me with mystical powers.
 
7.  Even though I graduated from high school *cough* years ago, where we never once broke into song and dance, I still believe high school is exactly like Grease
 
Holy moly, this has turned into a long post.  Most of my short stories are shorter than this post.  If you’ve made it this far, thank you for sticking with me to the end.  I shall reward you with an inspirational quote from William Feather: "Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go." 
 
What are your thoughts about blogger awards?  Have you ever come face-to-face with a kangaroo?  If the person you’re dining with has spinach in their teeth, do you tell them? 
 

First Campaigner Challenge

For my few readers who don’t already know this, as part of the Writers’ Platform Building Campaign, Rach is giving us challenges to flex our writing muscles and promote interaction.  The challenge for this week is:

Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “The door swung open” These four words will be included in the word count.

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), use the same beginning words and end with the words: "the door swung shut." (also included in the word count)

For those who want an even greater challenge, make your story 200 words EXACTLY!

This story is the idea that popped into my head almost immediately.  After reading some of the other stories and seeing how many people had gone dark and creepy with this challenge (something about swinging doors is automatically sinister), I took a stab at a silly comedy with potty humor, but it didn’t work, so I came back to this one.  My entry is #197, and it’s exactly 200 words. 

Sweet Revenge

The door swung open, and he crept inside, careful not to make a sound.  She sat at the table with her back to him, absently twirling a lock of red hair as she balanced her checkbook. The door swung open . . .

He took a step closer.  First she had ignored him.  Another step.  Then she had screamed at him to go away.  Two more silent steps closer to his target.  He’d show her no one treated him that way.

He unsheathed his weapon, its sharp tip anxious to taste her blood. 

She cursed and slammed her pen to the table.  He sank into a crouch, eyes boring into her, willing her not to turn around.  Revenge would be so much sweeter if she didn’t see it coming until he ripped open her flesh. 

With a deep sigh, she picked up her pen.  He inched toward her until he was in range.  Time for her punishment.  He pounced. 

She screamed as the point pierced her skin. 

A small droplet of blood trickled down her ankle.  She picked him up and hissed in his face.  “I told you to stay outside if you can’t behave.”

She shoved him through the kitty door, and the door swung shut.

I can’t wait to read the other stories – if you’ve written one, leave a link to it in the comments.

Photo cedit to Mattox

Dogs Wearing Hats

Whoo hoo, I’ve now finished my first round of the writers' campaign blog trail - I’ve visited/commented/followed/friended/circled/linked everyone in my horror, suspense/thriller, and YA groups.  I’ve seen so many funny/insightful/informative/enjoyable blogs the last few days and met some really great people.  It’s been fun, but it has turned my brain into a whirling, seething mass of goo.  And now I really need to post something new to entertain my new visitors, but of course I’m drawing a blank.  It’s probably stage fright knowing all these new friends are watching.

While reading though all the lovely comments, I saw several people were supportive of my weakness for putting party hats on dogs.  Either that or they were just being kind to avoid chasing the weird girl back into her corner.  So I decided to do what any proud parent does when someone shows the slightest interest in their ‘children’… pull out pictures!

For the record, all five of these dogs are not mine.  Freya is my girl, Lily and Chloe belong to my parents, Bailey is my brother’s handful, and Molly owns my sister.  So the hat obsession is not a Jocelyn thing, but a Rish thing.  Enjoy!

Lily looks so sweet in her party hat that Freya and Chloe are giving her kisses.  It has nothing at all to do with the fact that Lily is a messy eater and the other two are keeping her clean.

Freya and Chloe giving Lily birthday kisses

 

Bailey does not like to share.

Step away from the birthday cake and no one gets hurt!

 

Chloe has always been a rebel, so she wears her hat with style.

Chloe always does her own thing

 

I can read doggie minds.  Molly is clearly thinking about how much fun she’s having.  The phrase “I keel you!” never once passed through her brain.

I keel you!

 

The reward for all this adorable humiliation?  Delicious cakes made from canned dog food and doggie treats.

See what we'll put up with for some extra delicious food

 

And it’s not just birthdays….

 Santa's little helpers    Here comes Peter Cotton Tail...

 

But I promise, putting hats on the dogs is as far as we go . . . or is it?!?

Do you dress up your pets in any way?  Do they like it or do they give you sad face?  Or did you quit reading halfway through to run find the number of the Humane Society to report the crazy hat lady?