CSMA Prompts and Practice · writing

03 May 2014

03 May 2014

victoriansansalpha 760x100

This is the second of the overdue posts.

The prompts are:

  1. The warmth of a smile
  2. The wind was kickin’ at my house
  3. Picture Prompt found on the whiteboard in the meeting room



Begin Writing
It was windy – really windy.  The wind was kickin’ at my house pretty good.  Relentless.

Mid afternoon brought some respite from the gale so I ventured outside to see how the chickens were doing.  All but one of them was accounted for, safely tucked away in the hen house.  Only Noodle was missing.  I hoped she hadn’t blown away.

Noodle was a friendly bird.  She had assumed the role of ‘Mother Hen’ at my little egg factory. I call it an egg factory but in all honesty it was a small time operation.  I got eggs for my own consumption and enough to earn a bit of extra scratch peddling eggs to some of the neighbors.  I made enough money to buy chicken feed.  But if Noodle had been carried away by the storm it could potentially change the dynamics of the coop.  If ‘Mother Hen’ was missing it might interrupt the laying of the other birds.

I don’t have a graduate degree in chickenology gut I figured there might be a reason for me to worry.  I needed to find Noodle, no doubt about it.

I began by searching underneath and behind all the nearby bushes.  I came up empty so I broadened my search area and ventured outside the backyard fence.  There she was, in the truck patch.  Crouched between the lettuce and the radishes, sat Noodle.  She sat with a rabbit.  Was she protecting my produce? Was she keeping the pillaging bunny at bay?  Was she protecting the hare? Keeping him from being swept away by the storm?

As I pondered, the rabbit leaned over and nibbled a leaf of lettuce.  Noodle gave him a peck on the cheek and he seemed to smile.  I think Chicken Noodle had fallen in love.
Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper.

CSMA Prompts and Practice · writing

26 April 2014

26 April 2014

victoriansansalpha 760x100

I’ve been slacking.  I’ve been remiss. I have been neglecting to transcribe my “Book Bandit” posts to this blog.  The inspiration for this blog is the writers guild.  I have no excuse.  I am going to try and catch up today.  This is the first of the overdue posts.

The prompts are:

  1. If I could, I would write this in fire
  2. They were worn and tattered
  3. Traffic lights and toenails


Begin Writing
I pulled to the side of the road.  The cop pulled in behind me.  I watched in the mirror as he got out of his prowl car and unsnapped the strap on his holster.

He stayed close to the side of my car as he approached the drivers side window, “License and registration,” he said with his hand close to the grip of his pistol.

I leaned to the right and took out my wallet for my Drivers License and retrieved the registration from the pocket on the visor.  I held them out the window.

“Keep your hands on the wheel where I can see them.” the officer ordered and when I complied he glanced at the documents I had surrendered.

“Councilman?” he said, “I didn’t recognize you, sir.”

“That’s because your were staying behind me officer.” I said, ” You never looked at my face.”

“I did see your face when you blew through that red light councilman but, it was mostly obscured.  You apparently had your foot in your mouth.”

I laughed and I guess at that point he realized he had just cracked a joke.  I mean, it’s funny right? A politician with his foot in his mouth.  He blushed and leaned down to the window.

“I have to write you a ticket councilman, because I already called in the stop.  They expect a ticket and there’ll be hell to pay if I don’t.”

“I understand Officer…?”

“Templeton,” he said.

“I understand Officer Templeton.”

“I’m just gonna write you up for the traffic light violation.” Officer Templeton said, “But, I gotta ask, was your foot really in your mouth?  Didn’t you see the red light?  Anybody but you Councilman and I’d be writing this ticket in fire – you’d be looking at 7 – 10 years for traffic violations.  Pretty serious stuff.”

“I’m sorry, Sargent Templeton.  It was a perfect storm.  I caught my toe on a wire hanging under the dashboard and when I looked down to free it I noticed that all my toenails were worn and tattered.  I didn’t have anything to trim them with in the car so I was biting them.” My turn to blush.

He handed me a ticket for a red light violation.  He smiled and pointed down the street, “See that strip mall?”

“I do.”

“There’s a nail care shop in every strip mall these days.  You should find the one in there and get yourself a pedicure.  It’s a lot less embarrassing, and a lot less disgusting than getting pulled over for biting your own toenails while operating a moving vehicle.”

“Thanks, Lieutenant Templeton, I think there could be a promotion in this for you.  I’ll start the paperwork first thing Monday morning.”
Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper.

CSMA Prompts and Practice · writing

05 April 2014

05 April 2014

victoriansansalpha 760x100

The prompts are:

  1. Keep your arms and legs inside the car at all times
  2. Forty-five miles to go
  3. Irish twins

Begin Writing
“How much further?” I heard from the backseat, “I really have to pee!”

“Can you hold it a little longer dude? We have 45 miles to go to get to Grandmas.” I turned my head and looked in the back of the car. Joaquin, the oldest boy, was looking out the window while his younger brother’s legs were bouncing up and down; then slapping together rapidly. Justin was doing the pee pee dance with his seat belt fastened. I was actually kind of impressed.

“I can’t hold it dad,” he said with an edge of panic in his voice. “If you don’t want to stop I’ll just roll down the window! Please?”

I looked in the mirror, nobody behind us. The road, right now was deserted and traffic had been sparse since we got on the highway. “I don’t want you peeing out the window,” I said, “you have to keep your arms and legs inside the car at all times – all other body parts as well.” He laughed at this. “I’ll pull over and you can run into the bushes.”

“Hallelujah” sounded up from the back seat.

I nosed the car over to the shoulder and slowed down. Joaquin chimed in, “Hit a few potholes dad. Lets see if we can make him leak.” We all laughed at that. Justin moaned.

Before the car was completely stopped Justin had the door open. As soon as I was stopped he was streaking for a large creosote bush about 20 feet away. He ducked behind it and stayed there for what seemed a long time. I was about to go check on him when he came back around the bush, high tailin’ it to the car.

“I peed on a rattlesnake,” he said breathlessly as he slammed the car door and fastened his seat belt.

“Uh uh,” said Joaquin. “You did not.”

“Did so.”

“Did not… How big was it?”

“I don’t know, maybe four feet.”

“Really, did it rattle at you?”

“Course not, you dork. You think I’m dumb enough to pee on a rattler? What a doofus!”

Joaquin made a fist and drew his arm back.

“Easy boys,” I said and pulled back onto the road.
Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper.


CSMA Prompts and Practice · writing

29 March 2014

29 March 2014

victoriansansalpha 760x100

The prompts are:

1. You’ll never get that out
2. Por siempre adios
3. Chewing gum and wearing headphones

Begin Writing
I bought new soap yesterday.

Whatever happened to soap that smelled like lavender, or bay rum, or Ireland, or even just soap?

For God’s sake, I had a choice of “Tsunami”, or “Breeze”, or “Sport”. I was unsure what a tsunami smelled like, and the bar was sealed in plastic so I was unable to preview that scent. I reached for “Breeze” but then I remembered what the breeze smelled like when it blew up from Tacoma. I was able to sniff the bar though and thought I’ll never get that smell out of the bathroom, it was that bad.

I chose “Sport” and I’m glad I did. I kinda halfway expected to exit the shower this morning smelling of gym socks but that didn’t happen. I’m not sure what sport I smelled like but after work today, I’m going back to that store and buying the rest of their stock of “Sport” soap. Here’s why…

I was late for work this morning.

I was late for personal reasons.

I showered, with my new “Sport” soap, shaved and returned to the bedroom to dress. I won’t go into detail but suffice it to say that my wife was suddenly “attracted” to me.

I was late for work.

I was in a great mood when I got to the office and boarded the lift for the 19th floor, where I work. We stopped at 5 and a beautiful young lady got on board. “Mmmm, someone smells like sport” she said and she leaned next to me and breathed deeply. I pried her off when we got to 19. Her phone number was written on the back of my hand.

I spent the rest of the day at my desk, in my office but the women I work with kept coming by and lingering outside my office door all day long. For the most part, they weren’t talking to each other, they would just stand there and breathe deeply.

Late in the afternoon, Carol and Roxanne were brave enough to come into my office.

“Hi Chuck,” Roxanne said. “Did you get your hair cut? It looks great. Something’s different about you but I can’t figure it out. What is it? New glasses?”

Carol piped up, “Some of us girls are going to McMurphy’s for drinks after work. Wanna join us?”
“I’ll take a rain check Carol, I have to go to the store and buy soap.”

“Sport” Soap. Who knew?
Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper.

CSMA Prompts and Practice · writing

22March 2014

22 March 2014

victoriansansalpha 760x100

The prompts are:

  1. It looked soft and supple
  2. Shortbread
  3. We all had to do it

Begin Writing
We had three prompts for the group today.  None of them were very inspiring but we all had the same ones.  We all had to do it.  We all had to write.

The first prompt was “It looked soft and supple”. I rejected this one almost immediately, too easy to get myself in trouble with this unless I wrote about water balloons or something.

The second was “shortbread”.  Now this one had some promise.  I decided to run with it.

So I did.

Little Mary Ann Johnston donned her green uniform and grabbed her order form.  She yelled as she headed out the door, “Bye Mom, I’m going to sell cookies.”

“OK dear don’t forget about your tennis lesson at one.”

“Got it Mom, have fun with your garden club.”

Mary Ann had mapped out her route in detail before she began.  Elm Street was where she was to start today.  She headed that way.

The first door she knocked on was the Jones house.  They were always good for at least three boxes of shortbread.

“Good morning Mary Ann,” said Mrs. Jones as she swung open the front door.

“Good morning to you Mrs. Jones.  Its cookie time again, our favorite time of year.  Shall I mark you down for shortbreads?  How many boxes would you like?”

“Oh Mary Ann, I just bought five boxes not more than 20 minutes ago.  I couldn’t possibly get more than that.  Why, I’d get as big as a house.  The girls were from your troop.  I thought you had sent them here.”

“That’s OK Mrs. Jones.  They must have gotten confused.  Thanks for supporting the scouts.”  Mary Ann smiled and turned back towards the street.

When she got back down the walkway she was steamed.  Somebody was moving into her territory.  This meant war.

Mary Ann went back to Third Street.  She decided to check the perimeter of today’s grid and find the interlopers.  She did not have to go far.  On Apple, just two streets down she saw them.  It was Helen and Barbie.  They were pulling a wagon with Barbie’s little sister, Skipper.

Mary Ann picked up a branch from beneath the Larson’s persimmon tree and headed towards the other girls.

Helen saw her first and elbowed Barbie in the ribs.  Both girls stopped and watched Mary Ann advance, slapping the branch into her open palm with each step.

“Hi Mary Ann,” said Helen with honey dripping off each word.  “What are you doing here?”

“The question is not what I’m doing here,” Mary Ann said, “It’s what are you doing here you snotty bitch?  This is my territory, you can’t sell here.”

“Can too”
Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper.

CSMA Prompts and Practice · writing

15 March 2014

15 March 2014

victoriansansalpha 760x100This one is dedicated to my fellow “Book Bandit”, James, who is preparing to depart on a solo trek up the California coast in a couple of weeks time.  He will be hiking from Orange County to the Golden Gate Bridge and anticipates it will take about 40 days.  He made the mistake of inferring he was going  to lash a a Barbie doll to his backpack.  Today, several of us had a little fun at his expense.  This was my skewer!  All in fun.

The prompts are:
1. She moved like a breeze
2. Now that’s funny
3. I’m not your problem

Begin Writing
After a week on the road I discovered Malibu Barbie had stowed away.
She wouldn’t go home and I couldn’t just leave her.
I decided to let her come along for the trip.

After ten days on the road I found, to my surprise, that
I like having her around.
I just wish she’d talk more.
It’s lonely out here.

When the wind comes up she moves with the breeze. So graceful.
After two weeks on the road I told her that I loved her.
I told her how much I enjoy dancing with her as we work our way up the coast.
“Now that’s funny,” she said, “keep walking.”

After three weeks on the road I begin to suspect that she is stealing food and putting something in my water, but I have no proof.
I resolve to watch her more carefully.

It’s been four weeks and that bitch is really getting on my nerves.
Constantly humming and singing that song. Over and over again.

She has a way about her. Power that I could never have imagined.
I believe she even controls the geography and the very road that we traverse.
She has made it all uphill. There is no respite from the climb.
I hate her. She has to go.

There is a high bridge in Big Sur.
I made good use of it
Her final plea was, “Wait James, I’m not your problem.”

It was peaceful in Monterey.
It was quiet in Moss Landing and I treated myself to lunch at Phil’s.
I waved to the hippies in Santa Cruz.

Sausalito, at last. There are doctors to meet me here and a friendly policeman.
The doctors tell me that they are going to take me somewhere to rest. They say I look like I could use a good, long rest.
The policeman asks only, “What did you do with Barbie?”

Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper.

CSMA Prompts and Practice · writing

08 February 2014

08 February 2014

victoriansansalpha 760x100

The prompts are:
1. Please postpone my martyrdom
2. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time
3. This is not what we set out to do.

Begin Writing
I could see, I mean actually see, the bullet leave the muzzle of his handgun and begin traveling towards me, breaking through the puff of smoke that had preceded it from the barrel.  This is not what’s supposed to happen.  This is not how I am meant to die.  The gypsy woman had been clear; I was to perish in an accident at sea.  That’s the reason I had moved to Arizona.  I didn’t want to die this way.  This is not what I set out to do.  I set out to do good.  How the hell did I get here?

It had seemed like the right thing to do at the time.  Sign on to offer humanitarian aid by filling water containers in the desert.  Filling water containers strategically placed to aid travelers was humane, right?  I don’t care about politics.  I don’t care about borders.  I just want to help people.

Death by dehydration is nasty.  I’ve seen it before, in Iraq.  It’s not pretty.  Let others worry about your papers, your passports, your visas.  I just want to do what I can to help keep you alive.

It was a day like any other day in the Sonora Desert .  I was working with Ricky.  He and I were filling a twenty-five gallon tank, situated on a rocky mesa about thirty miles northeast of Nogales when it happened.  Ricky was laughing and telling me a story about his daughter’s birthday party the previous weekend.  He went quiet mid sentence and then the back of his head turned to a cloud of pink mist.  He sank slowly to the ground.  Then I heard the crack.  No mistaking that sound, I had heard it before.  A high powered sniper rifle, at least a mile away.

I dropped and as I did, the plastic tank we had been filling burst.  By the time the sound of that shot reached me I was scrambling towards the brush.  I dropped into a shallow wash.

There were the others.  They were waiting for me.  I put my hands up in a show of surrender.  Vigilantes combed this desert looking for travelers.  They must have been frustrated today.  Ricky and I were just water bearers but they targeted us anyway.

“Adios, motherfucker,” the guy with the black hat said as he leveled his piece and squeezed the trigger.  I saw the smoke.  I saw the bullet.

The second to last thing to go through my head was, “Damn, that gypsy woman had lied.”
Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper.

CSMA Prompts and Practice · writing

01 February 2014

01 February 2014

victoriansansalpha 760x100

The prompts are:
1. I’ve lost my St. Christopher
2. The planets must have been aligned just right
3. Putting your head on the chopping block

Begin Writing
I wake slowly and take inventory of my bones before opening my eyes.  I don’t think anything’s broken but, my head aches, I’m shivering cold, wet, and it’s dark here.  Where’s here anyway?  Not sure.

The last thing I remember I was on my way to Grandma’s house.  I had gone over the bridge and was driving through the woods when the thunderstorm caught up with me.  I must have crashed my car.

Sitting up, I looked around in the dark.  I was lying in a ditch, my car was about 20 feet down the way – also in the ditch.  It was upside down in the ditch.  The tires pointing up as though it had rolled over, stuck it’s feet up in the air and died.  Obviously, it was not going anywhere again.  At least not under it’s own power.  I kinda remember going into a slide as I went around a bend in the road.  I remember the tires breaking free of the road.  I must have knocked myself out because that’s all I remember.

I reached for my cell phone.  No help there, the phone was in pieces in my pocket.  I got up and walked to where my car lay, reached into the passenger window and opened the glove box.  Everything fell out onto the roof of the car.  I rooted through the debris until i found my mag light flashlight.   I removed it and turned it on.  Shining the light up the embankment, I could see that I was about 20′ below the road.  The light blinked once and went out.  I smacked it against my palm a few times and it came back on, weakly.  Then promptly went out again.  No amount of coaxing, or cajoling could get it to come back on.

Just my luck, I thought.  At least nothing else can go wrong.

A twig snapped behind me.  I froze and turned my head.  I couldn’t see a thing but I heard something.  I heard something frightening.  A low pitched rumble,  deep bass tone, that I quickly identified as a growl.  “Oh shit,” I screamed silently as I started scrambling up the bank to the road.

I should have never headed out to Grandma’s house today.  I knew better.  I had lost my St. Christopher.  I had no business traveling any where and now I was about to be dinner for an unknown, but fearsome predator.  Halfway up the embankment  I lost my footing and slid in the mud all the way back down…
Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper.

CSMA Prompts and Practice · writing

18 January 2014

18 January 2014

victoriansansalpha 760x100

The prompts are:
1. Play a train song
2. He knew he had one left.  He just knew it.
3. A sheep in sheep’s clothing

Begin Writing
“Look at me Mary.  What you see is what I am.  No secrets, no hidden agendas, no subterfuge, I am an open book.  I’m a sheep in sheep’s clothing.  I am not trying to deceive anyone.  If it looks like a duck…”

“I just don’t know.” Mary said, “How can I be sure I can trust you?  I mean I want to, I really do but, I’ve been burned by guys like you before.  This is really hard for me.”

“You are gonna have to decide Mary.  This is a great opportunity and I can’t keep that beauty on the lot forever.  There’s a young couple coming in this afternoon to make an offer on it if it’s still here.  You’re offering cash so it’s yours if you want it.  You can drive it off the lot right now.”

Mary tilted her head and looked out the window at the car in the lot. “It is a beautiful shade of beige,” she said, “why did that lady sell you the car again?”

“I told you that story Mary.  Mrs. Teapot had to go into a nursing home.  This car is a classic.  She kept it in a garage since she bought it new in 1973 and she really did only drive it to the market and back once a week.  That’s the reason it is in such good shape with such low mileage.  The 1973 Kingswood station wagon is highly sought after by collectors.”

Mary fidgeted in her seat.  Looked at the car, looked at me.  Reached for her purse, put it back down.  Then started fidgeting again.

Man, I thought to myself, how am I gonna separate this broad from her money?

“Will you take a cheque?” she blurted out.

Bingo!  “Normally we don’t take cheques Mary but I know you are gonna love this car as much as Mrs. Teapot did.  I guess we can take a cheque from you.  Make it out to ‘Honest Tom’s Used Cars and Motorcycle Parts.”

She dove into her purse with gusto and pulled out her cheque book.  “Six hundred dollars, right?” she asked.

“You are a tough negotiator Mary,” I shook my head “we had agreed on six-fifty.”

“No, I’m sure you said six hundred,” she stopped writing and lifted her pen.

“OK Mary, six hundred dollars for you, but don’t ever tell anyone!”
Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper.

CSMA Prompts and Practice · writing

11 January 2014

11 January 2014

victoriansansalpha 760x100Today was a spectacular day with the Book Bandits.  It got off to a bit of a rocky start, as you will see below, but the output from everyone was spectacular.

The prompts are:
1. My muse is silent but, the siren beckons.
2. They say that we were poor but I never noticed
3. Turns out he never said that at all

Begin Writing
This is a prompt writing group.  The prompts are meant to be inspirational.  Today’s prompts are mine.  I brought them.  I have no one to blame but myself.  My muse is silent and I haven’t even spotted the siren yet.

My comrades here are all non-judgmental for the most part but, there was some good natured judgment directed my way by almost everyone when they heard these prompts.  I thought I heard Tom say, “These are the stupidest prompts I have ever encountered.”  I glared at him but, it turns out he never said that at all.  I guess I owe him an apology for all the things I was thinking.  Sorry Tom.

I often jump to conclusions and act out irrationally.  My therapist says it’s how I was raised.  You see, we had three rules to live by growing up:

  1. Act now! You can always apologize later (Sorry again, Tom).
  2. Always cover your back and the backs of your family (OK, that’s sort of a two part rule but the parts go together).
  3. Never play cards with a man called Doc.

We never had much when I was growing up.  Probably this was because my dad played cards with Doc Thompson every Friday night.  Always waiting for that one good hand.  Folks said we were poor but I never noticed because we always had each other.

OK… there was a fourth rule too.  It was also a compound rule though.  You know, like two rules in one.  It was my granddads rule:

4.  Never admit to being intelligent or having a driver’s license.
Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper.

Well, that was a challenge.  But, it was an amusing challenge.  Kudos really go to the others for their stories as well.  Most of the stories were kinda short (undoubtedly a direct result of the convoluted prompts) so we still had a lot of time and decided to have another go.  As is usually our custom, we got one prompt and 15 minutes.

The prompt was:
1. And then, his trousers burst into flames
There was a secret prompt too.  Not official, not written down, but most of us worked it in anyway.  It was “Snotty bitch”

Begin Writing
Governor Periwinkle concluded his speech and opened the floor to questions.  This town hall meeting was crucial to his re-election campaign and he was nervous.  He could afford no slip ups.  Without exception his aids and advisers had cautioned him against taking questions. ‘Too risky’ they all said, ‘Too easy to lose control of the message’ they all warned. But, they had screened and vetted all the attendees.

“If you guys have done your jobs well,” Periwinkle said, “there should be no one with an axe to grind in the house.  The questions should be friendly and nothing more than political fluff.”

He felt it was a risk that would really be no risk at all.  A risk well worth taking.

The beautiful brunette reporter in the front row raised her hand and Governor Periwinkle immediately acknowledged her.  He had been watching her the entire evening.  Large eyes, sensuous lips, full breasts, long legs – she had it all.  It would be good to hear her voice and he anticipated music.

“Governor,” she opened, “can you comment on allegations that you authorized the bridge closure in Anytown as political retribution against the mayor of Anytown for his refusal to endorse you in your last election?” She smiled slightly.

Periwinkle’s face fell.  She was beautiful but toxic, and a snotty bitch to boot.  He quickly recovered   his composure and said, “Of course that is not true.  Why would you even think that?”  Then his trousers burst into flames.
Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper.


I don’t know… maybe you had to be there… it seemed funny at the time!