Writing My Life

Now and Then


Writing for Tweeners – another contest entry

I can’t remember which “Project Writeway” entry this was, but contest sponsors required that we write a 400-word snippet aimed for Middle Grade readers. The Middle Grade audience ranges  from 10 to 13 years-old or thereabout.  Brandon Mull’s FABLEHAVEN series,  for instance, serve as examples of books that resonate with this age group. 

The important factor for this phase of the contest was to sound like a kid – NOT an adult! That’s a huge key to success for appealing to “tweeners.” So, did I pull it off? 

Wilson  Spaulding

“What the crap?” I didn’t think I said that out loud, but I did, and my teacher sent me her worst crusty. That’s bad because her regular face would scare Darth Sidious.

“I said that you, Wilson Spaulding, will represent our class in the basketball sixth-grade shoot-out.”

“Are you kiddin’ me?” I almost screamed my piss-off. She walked – no, she charged at me like a rogue droid bent on destruction. I wanted to get the heck out of there. (I would say “hell,” but Mom might read this.) Instead, I crossed my arms, squinted my eyes, and stuck out my chin like looks could really kill – or at least stop – Mrs. Hutt, wife of Jabba.

The menace grabbed my T-shirt sleeve and dragged me to the hall. I thought of warning her about student abuse or becoming Bantha fodder, but the Force forced me to shut my mouth.

“Now listen here,” she said as she stood me against the lockers. “You will not act out in this class!”

“Your mind tricks will not work on me.”

Mrs. Hutt sighed, more ticked off than ever. Her breath – a coffee-cigarette combo – grossed me out, and I waved my hand like a fan to keep me from passing out.

She didn’t think it was funny. Instead she pushed me towards the gym where I saw London Beitia talking to the other sixth-grade teacher. (And  I didn’t think things could get freakin’ worse.)

I was going to lose to a girl. No argument there. London was a really awesome basketball player.

I was going to lose to the cutest and tallest girl in the whole school. There she was looking better than Princess Leia ever could in a pink basket ball jersey,  shorts, and sparkly basketball shoes!

I just stood there – all five-foot-two of me – wearing my favorite and holey Darth Maul t-shirt and Tough-skin jeans that stopped before they got to my ankles.

Obi-wan, where are you when I need you?

I barely heard the principal tell us that the game was HORSE before he flipped a coin to see who would go first. London called “heads,” but the quarter landed on “tails.”

This is good. Going for the impossible, I turned my back to the basket, threw up the ball … and heard a SWISH! Cheers erupted from the Ewoks who  filled the gym, and London flashed a big smile.



Academy Awards: A Reflection or Two or Three or ….

Don’t know why, but I decided to watch the Grand-daddy of all award shows from beginning to end. Not an easy task because watching an award show with husband G.E. is like surviving a cross-country road trip with a 5-year-old: “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” Sheesh. Couldn’t wait for him to fall asleep! Which he did just before the best picture presentation.

I thought about tweeting my observations and even got started with some very snappy repartee when my KindleFire expired – forgot to “fire” up the battery. Duh!

I knew my many readers would be greatly disappointed in missing out on these clever quips, and so here is what I would have written:

  • Tom Hanks is the reason I DON’T want G.E. to grow a beard. Gray HAIR can make men look distinguished (Christopher Plummer), even sexy (George Clooney), but gray BEARDS only make you look like Nick Nolte – who has added facial hair and

    That COULDN'T be SAINT Nick???

    subtracted head hair, but actually looked better at the Oscars than he did in the drunk tank a few years ago.

    NN's Mugshot

  • Jennifer Lopez’s peek-a-boo dress made me nervous!
  • Billy Crystal – don’t EVER leave us again. We’ve missed your spot-on hosting. And, Eddie Murphy, thank you for stepping down.
  • Octavia’s Best Supporting Actress acceptance speech was as refreshing as Christopher Plummer’s was polished. Both were wonderful. And I have to say it again, her dress was PERFECT. Octavia was also with the “second” sexiest guy in the room – Christian Bale – for a couple of minutes.
  • Meryl Streep  –  I would have so wanted you to win IF Viola Davis hadn’t been nominated in the same category. But since I haven’t seen Iron Horse  Lady, I’ll reserve further comment. (I think Iron Horse is about an equestrienne who ruled Great Britain – oh, no – that was Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown. )
  • Speaking of nominations I haven’t seen  – well, it’s actually easier to list those nominated for best pic that I have seen: Moneyball, The Help, and Midnight in Paris. I enjoyed all of them, but they were so different from one another that I couldn’t determine which one was best because one was a great sports film; another was an incredible drama, and the last totally scored as the most intelligent comedy I’ve seen in a long time. I completely believe in the adage that it’s an honor to be nominated. 
  • BTW, I am excited to watch the rest of those picks who shared the honor of “just being nominated.” Netflix, I’ll be ordering those in a minute.
  • Big night’s big question – for me, at leas: What was with Melissa McCarthy’s (and that other actress I don’t know) guzzling the mini-bottles during their presentations? And were those little liquor bottle souvenirs from a trip to Utah? Oh, one more thing: M’s hair looked good, but the dress-not-so-hot. She should have gone shopping with Octavia.
I thought many more thoughts, but that 3-hour show kept me up past bedtime, and so I’m going to bid you and Jimmy Kimmel good night – even though he did land Oprah on his show.
Have a super week, and thank you, Academy!

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… final 50-word fiction or NOT: Kakistocracy …

Today’s WordPress prompt was another perfect fit for the NaBloPoMo’s August theme, Fiction.

“Find a word you don’t know, but like, and use it in a short, paragraph length, story, or a clever sentence.” So here ’tis my effort. Kind of a somber way to end 31 days straight of blogging! WheW!


The commentary turned into a prophecy fulfilled.

The BEST shunned public service because of its position at the back of a bus driven by politics.

No one without a personal agenda entered the arena.

The populous surmised that there were no choices.

So why bother?

Results: The WORST of us govern.


… 50-word “Gatsby” fiction: Jordan and Nick …

Note: Today the WordPress daily prompt intrigued me: “If you could be part of any fictional universe, what would it be? And why? (For example Star Wars, Mad Men, Hamlet, etc.)”

I thought about it throughout the day and decided upon the fictional universe of The Great GatsbyRather than list possible reasons for that choice – the fashions, the conflicted post-World War I era, the intriguing but shallow characters, etc. – I am choosing to enter the universe via my 50-word fiction. So I climbed into the minor-major character Jordan Baker’s psyche to visit Fitzgerald’s literary Jazz-age world.



I rather resent Daisy’s crusade in finding me a suitable man.

I suppose she distrusts my taste in the male species. Understandable. 

I don’t trust myself – in anything.

Tonight Cousin Nick is the lamb to be sacrificed upon the altar of Jordan’s respectability.

I pray I don’t like the fellow. 

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… stream-of-conscious 50-word fiction: “The Shadow Knows”

I’ve awakened to see shadows rummaging through boxes stacked throughout the room but I don’t move or breathe for fear the figures will materialize into something solid and sinister and I pray my lump of flesh and bones curled up here in this corner will disappear into a sinister shadow.


… more fun than fiction: Mom and the Mall Pick-up …

Yesterday Mom and I headed for South Towne Center so she could cash in on a fancy-schmanzy free gift with her Estee Lauder purchase. As we were leaving, we paused curbside to allow dozens of cars to exit the parking lot. A hot Mustang Convertible stopped even though many more vehicles lined up behind him.

I waved him on and shouted, “Go ahead. We’re really slow walkers!” Because the top was up and the windows were tinted, I couldn’t see the driver, but he stuck his arm out the window and motioned us to cross.

I yelled thanks, and Mom added, “We sure like your car!” I repeated her sentiments to make sure he heard, and the  driver hollered back something we couldn’t make out.

Still got it at 85!

As we finally got to the other side of the Mustang, the passenger rolled down the window to reveal a very very very good looking young man. The driver leaned towards the passenger’s window as well so that we could see he, too, was a cutie.

The passenger then repeated what the driver had said: “HE SAID HE’LL TEXT YOU LATER!”

I laughed and relayed the message to Mom who is a little hard of hearing, and then I added, “I didn’t know he had your phone number.”

She chuckled and then climbed into my car. That’s when I noticed her phone number printed on the back of her T-shirt!!!!

(Okay, that last paragraph is a lie, but all the rest is true. And I could have kissed those sweet guys for making her day! Thanks young men, whoever and wherever you are.)

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… more 50-words of fiction … Middle School “Deal-Breaker” …

can’t believe I survived the 1st day of middle school. fINALLY opened my locker by MYSELF.

the cutest boy is in math class! i caught him looking at me tonz of times! YaY!

’til tomorrow …

2nd day – okay …  EXCEPT I caught Cute Boy picking his nose TWICE! 

Crush over. 

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… 50-words to tell a story: Between the Rock and the Hardplace …

“Your mother is a selfish witch!” HE said.

“Your father is an egotistical brute!” SHE said.

“What’s the matter, Son?” HE asked.

“What’s the matter, Son?” SHE asked.

“Who’s right and who’s wrong?” Son answered.

“I’M RIGHT!” HE said.

“HE’S WRONG!” SHE said.

“Then how can I choose?” Son asked.


… fantasy in 50 words: The Big Bubble Theory …

How many are created?

Don’t know.

Some collapse or burst upon creation. Only a fraction survive to contain and sustain life.

Who's in there?????

Wise Ones claim another world collided with ours – merging rather than destroying. A miracle, they say.

Still we hesitate to explore this conjoined sphere where sprites or pixies may hide.


… dystopian fiction in 50-words: AZAZEL

Azazel always carried it but hoped she’d never use it.

Thunderstorms  usually kept the androgynous SHE-MEN in their hostels, and so she risked the venture.

But these cloned beings thought she was the last, and they were waiting.

For us, Azazel pulled the pin; keeping our secret safe. For now.