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.



Second in a Series of My Losing Entries

As promised, I am continuing my continued ongoing attempt to humble myself before my reading public – Alice and a few others – by publishing the entries that were relegated to the “thanks-but-no-thanks” bin. Because of the amount of work that goes into most any kind of writing, I wanted this little piece to enjoy being read by a few more folks. 

The rules were these: 

  • 200 words
  • must use the following words: bulldozer, plant, jam, simplicity, and cookie
  • somebody must get slapped

Got it? Just in case, the required words and action are in boldface. =) 


Cookie decided she better answer him even though the history teacher looked past her to me. My friend’s voice skipped an octave. “Uh, because women didn’t have the same opportunities to explore the world?”

“Possibly, Miss Abbott,” Mr. Theobold said, and then he turned and planted his size fifteen wingtips close to my desk. “Can you add any insights, Azalea Jones?”

I flinched when a bit of spittle squirted from his mouth to my forehead. Glaring at this pathetic excuse for an educator, I pulled a Kleenex from my backpack, blotted away the saliva, and then jammed the tissue into my pocket.

“No, not really, Mr. Theobold. But I’m pretty sure I know what mighty revelation you’re ready to share, thus confounding the simplicity of our feminine minds.” Dad always likened me to a bulldozer when backed into a corner, and now I wanted to level this jerk.

The smirk warped into a grimace and his voice smoldered. “What do you think of that, class? Miss Jones reads minds. Do you know what folks called women who demonstrated such skills hundreds of years ago?”

“Intuitive. But I bet you were going to say ‘witches,’ right?”

That’s when he slapped me. 

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“Also Ran:” My First Submission to Project WRITEway

Remember I told you about the creative writing contest the folks at Throwing Up Words sponsored? And remember that I told you I would share my losing efforts – even though I don’t really think I am a loser because I keep entering and losing and stuff. And I think as long as a person keeps trying, she isn’t losing  because no one has yet yelled, “STOP TRYING!” Until that happens, I’m in the running.

Anyhoo, as my friend Ann Cannon is fond of saying, here is that promised entry: 150 words that begin my untitled, Young Adult novel. Helpful feedback is always appreciated. It needs to be kind, but most importantly, HONEST.

Like many disasters in  life, the events started innocently enough. Conservative, if not traditional.

It’s hard to say who or what set things in motion, and I don’t know if that’s important anymore. Could be. All I care about is seeing an end before more women and girls disappear.

In the beginning, even Mom supported the public education “revolution” – separate schools for girls and boys. She constantly quoted research that test scores soar when the sexes don’t worry about meeting each other in front of lockers or making out in stairwells during lunch.

I hated the new “separate-but-equal” idea because I wanted to meet a guy at my locker and make-out during lunch. I know my arguments were hormone-based, but in my darkest imaginings of how this change would affect my schooling and my life, I did not fathom the proverbial “worst-case-scenario:” I would be fighting for survival.

Cool photo by D. Clow from Flickr.com