Archive for September, 2013

Writing Prompt

Writing Prompt

Who rides these bikes? What sort of building is behind the bikes? Why are the bikes stored in this particular location?

Add your story based off of the prompt below.

What Makes Our Writing Unique

by: Rebecca Taylor

With so many writers in the world how do we make our writing unique? I believe we can manage this because:


1. We are all individuals with different thoughts and feelings, which means even if we’re given the same writing prompt or first line, we will all create something different. We can do this by choosing a different writing form (i.e. poem, article, short story), point of view, time period or setting.


2. Writing has rules but we all interpret them differently which means that our writing process will vary and this will change how our writing turns out. Some of us keep grueling outlines of what will happen when and how and some of us do little planning when it comes to writing, preferring to be more spontaneous


3. We have all lived through different experiences and these unique experiences mean we have different insight into events. For example, if you were asked to write something ‘formula fiction’ like boy meets girl, they fall in love, we would all do something different, because our relationships with other people or how we would like relationships to be, will have some impact on the outcome of the story. The difference in dialogue and characterization make a big difference in our writing.


4. We all describe people, places and events differently. For example, if we are writing about mountains in the fall, I might say the leaves colourful combinations breathed life into the mountains. However, another description could describe this scene equally well, i.e. Kate couldn’t take her eyes off the mountains, she could have stared at their colourful decorations all day.


5. We all have different people proofread our work. The proofreaders are unique and therefore, their comments all vary meaning the changes we might make to our story are different. The combination of the writer and readers feedback help to push our stories closer to being finished.


In conclusion, I think it is important to remember that we are writing something unique, and that our ideas come from many places. We should however, be vigilant to not copy the work of someone else. If we read a great book that we love so much, we can study the form and analyze what we liked to help us develop a great story using characters, settings and plot that we ourselves have developed.


It was al in her head, of course.


Unfortunately, there was no getting it out of her head. Her head was telling her he had everything she longed for. He epitomized everything she craved and the things she wished for when her mind was no longer logical, in that space before she fell asleep.

He was being appreciated, being popular, a kiss before she went to write her English paper (or not write it because it turned into more than one kiss).

He was someone to hang out with and watch the other girls look at while knowing he was hers and, above all, she was his and she was okay with it.


They weren’t dating, of course.

That would be absurd because all the things she longed for were things she knew she could never get, those things just out of reach. She remembered the conversation that had sealed her longing for him…

“You’ve never tried skydiving?” Tony asked in disbelief, having been 3 or 4 times himself.

“No,” she replied, feeling lame and unappreciated like always. She always set her goals to high, longed for things she couldn’t have.

“Why not?” he asked. She might see someday that he was not everything she could ever wish for but she longed for him now. So much.

“I’ve never been invited,” she replied, trying for a date.

“No one needs an invite for fun!” he replied incredulously before changing the subject.

She knew that, somehow, she was separated from him. She didn’t want to skydive, couldn’t ‘invite herself to fun’ or whatever he had said.

But she longed for him because he was someone who had been skydiving. Someone who invited himself to fun and inevitably had fun and other people joined and it all worked out in the end.

But she wasn’t going skydiving. She would go on longing.

She would think about the other conversation she had with him.

“I just don’t see why that’s necessary,” he said while she wrote three thank you notes, laboring over each. “Just thank them in person.”

She looked up and could see that she was on the ground and he was skydiving for all the distance that was between them. She replied, “I was raised on thank you notes.”

“I guess I was raised on telling people how I feel,” he replied contemplatively.

She continued writing. He went back to watching television.

The conversation ended. Later, she mentally pictured herself walking away from his landing area, letting him fly in the sky and moving herself away. She was not sure he’d understand if she ‘told him how she felt.’ He never longed for anything because he had it all.

Then again, maybe it was all in her head.


Three Tips to Responding Well to Writing Feedback


Since writers are always saying something, we will always receive criticism. Many times, it’s because we asked for feedback. It will come, be it from editors, agents, readers – or for those of us that are unpublished, from critique groups, fiction writing class mates, writer friends, and family. Feedback is necessary and helpful, yet it can be painful. If you hear that comment that drives you to dangle all your writing dreams over the dumpster – I have advice for you. Don’t do it. Back away from the dumpster. Instead of trashing dreams, take heart and take these three suggestions seriously.

1. Think before you defend

Or don’t defend at all. Don’t even speak. When someone tells you they don’t like your character (the character you based off yourself), nod and listen respectfully. When your editor tells you your favorite analogy isn’t working, take a breath. Be grateful. Be kind. No matter if the feedback was vastly positive or completely negative, thank the person for their time and their help. The golden rule works well here.

What you shouldn’t do is rush to explain how you just really like that metaphor and how you think it’s really great and it pulls the whole story together. To be frank, that doesn’t matter anymore. It’s not just about you, as the writer. It’s about readers, and a reader just told you they didn’t understand. That means you have a job to do.

 2. Remember you are writing to be read

My fiction writing professor constantly gives a spiel on feedback. She’s says something like this: “When someone tells you of something that confused them in a story, you don’t have to listen to their suggestion on how to fix it. You are the writer. How you fix it is up to you. But if your reader is confused, you should fix something.”

If someone tells you that a certain scene or line or subplot just doesn’t make sense, don’t chop off the criticizer’s head. Take a breath and realize who you are writing for. If you honestly want to publish a story but only you can understand it, something is wrong.

3. Take a break

Negative feedback hurts. Instead of getting angry, take a break. A long break. For longer works, leave longer time. When you find that you forget how you worded, say, your favorite sentence of the piece, you know you’ve taken enough time. Time gives emotions time to cool, it allows instincts to appear clearly, and it gives your brain space to refresh. All this is growth towards an objective perspective.

That’s the key  – objectivity.


What’s the most painful criticism you’ve received? How did you handle it?


The Man Behind the Mask

by: Rebecca Taylor

Emelia Gale looked out the window of her dress shop on Fifth Avenue in Galesburg. Fear ran through her as two men with masks were outside. It was mid-July and it was the warmest summer that had swept through town in years. They were headed her way, but there was nowhere to run. All she could do was wait and hope for the best. She didn’t panic; it wasn’t her way. She knew that the sheriff would be patrolling the streets; he hadn’t been by in a while. He would have to be coming by soon. Just then, the masked men came crashing through the door pulling it off its hinges.

            “Give me all your money and jewellery,” said one man.

            Emelia took off her ring and necklace and handed them to the man with the money she’d taken out of the cash box.

            “Is this all? Only a measly fifty cents. You must have more on you, Green Eyes, the sign on the door says Gale, and this town has the name Galesburg, there must be some connection of some sort,” thundered the man.

            “My grandfather founded the town fifty years ago in 1799,” replied Emelia.

            “Jack,” said the man to his masked comrade, “find the lady’s purse, she must have more than this.”

            “What do you want, if it was money you were after you wouldn’t have come to a small town like Galesburg. It only has a population of a hundred and twenty,” said Emelia confidently.

            The man laughed and took her by the arm pulling her up.

            “Stop it, you’re hurting me,” said Emelia.

            “Got it,” said Jack interrupting Emelia and his boss, “two dollars in her purse and an emerald pin.”

            “Bring it along and bring the girl. She’s coming with us. She might not have much but I’ll bet the founder’s granddaughter is worth a lot to this town.”

            “Ah, Boss, do we have to bring her? You know we can make a faster getaway if we leave her behind and head for the big city,” replied Jack.

            “We’ll have a posse after us so fast if we leave her here, and besides, she’s worth more than two fifty and three pieces of jewellery.”

            “The town will never pay; we have a sense of justice here. We don’t do what thugs want just because they’re holding a gun and ordering people about,” retorted Emelia.

            “What do you plan on doing, Boss? It seems to me that this girl and this town are a pile of trouble, and I don’t want any part of it,” said Jack.

            “Girl! Who are you calling girl? I’m twenty-four years old,” exclaimed Emelia.

            The boss laughed. His years of experience as a stage, train, bank, and town robber told him that Miss Emeila Gale was a spirited woman and he could have a bit of fun with her, and get a good size stake at the same time as well.

            At that moment, another masked man came through the door. He seemed to be very agitated.

            “Come on, Boss, I’ve got the horses. I hid them out back.”

            “Okay, Zack, did you bring around an extra one for Miss Gale?”

            “Yes, Boss, just like you asked. We are taking her aren’t we? We weren’t sure when I left you on the outskirts of town,” replied Zack.

            “Wait, I told you this town won’t pay you ransom for me. Why are you doing this?” snapped Emelia.

            “This town is absolutely useless to me unless I get something out of it and today that something is you,” replied the leader pulling Emelia out the door.

            She lashed out at him, kicking, and trying to get away. She had determination on her side, but her strength was against her. Her weight was at least a third of his, and he did things like this for a living. She was only a dressmaker by trade. All Emelia could think about was the sheriff. Where was he? Had they done something to him, because he usually came around every fifteen minutes.

            “Calm down, Green Eyes, you are going to hurt yourself,” said the leader.

            “Why don’t you go turn yourself in and after a little jail time become honourable people in a society, instead of harassing people,” retorted Emelia.

            “You may be beautiful and spirited but you aren’t very smart. They’d kill us, you don’t have any idea of all the things we’ve done,” said Jack. “A beautiful, green eyed, brown haired, tall beauty is all you are.”

            Emelia didn’t say anything. She was too busy thinking of a way to escape, but there was nothing she could do, it was an uneven score of three to one. The outlaws put her on a horse and they rode out of town, nobody was around to see the granddaughter of the town’s treasured founder be taken prisoner. They took her to a cave where they tied her up and left her struggling with the bonds of the rope. Every time she rubbed her wrists against the rock, it made the pain worse, but she was stubborn and wouldn’t give up.

            “You don’t know how to admit defeat do you, ma’am?” asked Zack.

            “No, I don’t. I have to strive on my hope,” she replied and went back to work.

            Meanwhile, the leader of the gang had gone into town with the ransom note and left his two partners in crime with Emelia. One thing led to another and Jack went fishing while Zack dozed off. Emelia was able to get her bonds undone with the fire in the lantern and crept outside ready to make a getaway. She quietly led the horses away from the cave and mounted one of them. She headed back the way she had come. She would have been able to get away, but the leader of the gang was on his way back to the cave. He caught Emelia and forced her off the horse. She ran from him, tearing her dress as she went through the rocky passageway. Just as the leader was about to catch her, her father the sheriff, (who had been tied up) and the posse appeared.

            “Emelia,” cried out her father dismounting. She rushed to him. He tripped the masked outlaw leader who fell flat on his face. Gun in one hand, Mr. Gale took the black mask off the leader.

            “Tom Huckler!” exclaimed Mr. Gale looking at the young man with the rust coloured hair.”

            “Avery Gale,” answered the astonished outlaw.”

            “You two know each other?” asked Emelia questioning her father.

            “Yes, this is your mother’s youngest brother,” replied Mr. Gale.

            “I don’t understand, why are you an outlaw, how could my mother’s brother be a robber and kidnapper?”

            “I don’t know myself, Green Eyes, Linna wasn’t the type to admit having an evil relative, but it happened and she only allowed me to meet your father once when she was trying to reform me.”

            “It didn’t work,” answered Emelia bitterly.

            “No, it didn’t. I’m just a bad seed from a batch of good,” replied Huckler sadly.

            “Why my dress shop anyways, there are other businesses in town which could have given you a much bigger take,” asked Emelia looking at her outlaw uncle.

            “I don’t know; we planned on coming to Galesburg because I wanted to see the place that had held my sister’s interest. She cared about me and I didn’t take the time to stop all my outlaw ways. There gets to be a point in everyone’s life when all they want is a normal life, I know that I blew my chance. As for the dress shop, you were my connection to Linna, her daughter.”

            “Kidnapping me wasn’t exactly a point in your favour to getting to know me?” retorted Emelia.

            “No, it wasn’t but sometimes you get in so deep that you don’t see an out, I couldn’t very well walk in and say, ‘Hi, Emelia, I’m your uncle Tom Huckler, I work as an outlaw,’ you would have had your father on me so fast…”

            “How did you let your life get so messed up? Mom tried to help you and she could usually make anyone see her way.”

            “I don’t know, Emelia, I’m sorry for what I did especially to you, I never should have brought you out here, I don’t know what I was thinking, somehow I thought that maybe with you away from the town we could both get something out of it but like most things in my life I didn’t do it in the right way.”

            “Crime doesn’t pay, Tom,” answered Avery Gale.

            “I guess this is the end of my rein as the man behind the mask. I can’t hide what I did under a mask any longer. No matter what they do to me at least it will be over.”

            “If you want to change completely depending on how things go, maybe one day you’ll get a chance but you have to want it, work for it, and not look back to the life you’ve been living.”

            “I want it; I just don’t know how to get especially now that Linna is gone.”

            “We’ll see what happens at the trial, maybe they can rehabilitate you, but it is all out of our hands now, it is up to the judge and jury.

            “I know,” answered Tom and he, Jack and Zack were taken to jail. A trial was held and they were sent to prison for a life of hard labour with the possibility of parole after twenty years. No one knew what would become of Tom Huckler; the man behind the mask and his two sidekicks but Emelia and Avery Gale held onto the hope that someday Linna Huckler Gale’s hopes for her brother would become reality.

Dreadfully Gorgeous

t has happened again. The moment where I need that escape from the world. The moment where I can’t believe something bad happened again. The moment where I just don’t understand what in the world is going on and why it’s happened again.


The moment where I can only remember the bad events from my past.


These moments happen when I don’t know what to do.


I then pick up a book.  Once I start reading I’m lost from the world. I forget it all.


The rude people. The stupid actions. The forgetfulness. The anger and the pain. The heartbreak. The aloneness.


I read and after a few lines my mind is transported and away. Gone from these people and this life. Gone to think about a different life, a different way, a different day.


I lose myself to the book and forget everything that is happening to me. I forget about myself and just concentrate on someone else. This other world consumes me and takes over little by little and I’m lost until the alarm goes off, the ticking clock.


Tick tock. Tick tock.


I put the book down but I will be back because I haven’t quite managed to fully escape from where I am or who I am. I never will.


It’s almost beautiful in a tragic sort of way.


These moments happen sometimes and eventually the clock-tick tock-makes it better and I move on and on and forget what brought on that particular moment.


These moments are dreadfully gorgeous.

The Winterkind

My history, the origin of my people, was what had shaped me. My people have existed since the beginning of time. We – the Winterkind – are a species akin to humans, the same size, the same sort of mind, I’m told, but with different blood. As the Winterkind have grown, we’ve split off into small clans. We’re forever nomads, following snowflakes around the globe, staying within the weather that permits us to live. Though we encounter humans, we are told to ignore them. Some Winterkind have been devious – playing pranks and throwing snow balls at humans. Pranks are easy to pull, since the humans can’t see us. We’ve never been seen.

Izar, my clan’s queen, says, “We are Winterkind: born to follow the flakes, destined to be different.” Izar always said this with a kind glimmer in her eyes. She was meaning to sound kind, and I knew she was also just trying to put a positive spin on the Winterkind’s plight. We were different – she tried to tell us we were different as in unique – but I believed we were different as in limited. We must follow the snow because if we get too warm, the blood in our veins boils and we baked. To say that the only purpose to a Winderkind’s life is to stay alive… it just doesn’t make any sense. I believed we should focus not on delaying death but on living.

The elders said us young ones must memorize the history because we needed to develop a sense of respect for our forefathers. Yet I memorized it with a different motivation. My history was captivating to me only because it angered me. I did not want to continue to do what my forefathers did – I did not want to be a Winterkind.

Thinking of my history made me sick, but it fueled my passion to do something. I could not do this for the entirety of my life – following my clan to snowy city parks across the country. My clan seemed alright with this plan, for what other choice did we have? I believed that if we talked to the humans, they could change our destiny. They were intelligent, they knew their science, and they had access to technology that we did not. They could turn our blood into human blood, and we would no longer be bound by what’s inside of us. We would be the same as the humans, and have all the opportunities they have. First I had to get the attention of a human.

Remember when I mentioned those devious Winterkind that throw snowballs? Well, that’s me. I am the only deviant. Everyone else in my clan are the kindest, most content creatures – and then there’s me. The rebel. It may seem very rude to throw things at strangers, but believe me – if you knew your destiny depended on it, you’d do it, too. And so every afternoon I threw snowballs at humans. I’ve tried other things to get their attention, but I’ve found it’s the most effective method.

I sat in a tree one afternoon, my stash of ammunition sitting on the branch beside me. I had perfect aim, since I’d been doing this for most of my life. Watching an unsuspecting human get hit in the back with a bursting snow clump, time and time again, never got old. Well, it almost never did. I was getting bored of the humans that turned to see who had attacked them, frowned, and then walked on. I just wanted one of them to turn towards my tree, and say, “Who are you?” Then I’d known that I was seen and on my way to becoming one of them.

Hours passed. I threw a snowball at a kid’s orange backpack. He whirled around, frowning.

“Hey, up here,” I said, as I always did. I just needed confirmation that I was invisible to him, too, and then I’d move on to the next human.

He turned and frowned up at me, locks of brown hair falling in his eyes. “Who are you?”

My jaw fell open. I dropped gracefully from the tree, so I could be on his level. “I’m Twila. Who are you?”

He just stared, which I thought was rude. “What are you?” He asked.

“I’m a Winterkind. You – you can see me?”

“Yeah. I have eyes, don’t I?” He poked the corners of his eyes, giggling.

“Well, yes.” He was a bit rough around the edges, maybe, but that was alright. Soon he would have sympathy and help me, and that was all that mattered. “As I said, I’m a Winterkind. I’ve been meaning to talk to someone about that. Do you know any scientists? Oh, please tell me you do.”

“A scientist? Yeah, I know like a hundred.” He guffawed, smirking childishly at me. It took me a moment to realize he was lying. “Why do you look so gross?”

“What did you say?” I gasped. Winterkind highly valued politeness, so the lack of it horrified me.

He pointed to my bear arms. “I can see, like, blood under your skin.”

I glanced at my arms. “That’s what I always look like.” The veins and arteries shown blue through my clear skin, and it was the most normal Winterkind skin I ever saw.

“Well, it’s kind of dis-cust-ing.” Then he grinned proudly. “I just learned that word at school. I should bring you in for show and tell. My friends will think you’re gross, and they all think gross things are fun.” He ran after a group of school boys farther down the sidewalk.

My mouth was left open in shock, but then I ran deep into the park so he could not find me. Oddly, my disappointment dissipated quickly. Instead I thought of Izar’s famous words.

She never meant that we were different as in bad different. She meant we were different because the world needed us to be different. “I am a Winterkind,” I murmured to myself, striding away. “Born to follow the flakes, destined to be different.”

For the first time, I did not cringe when I said ‘different.’

The Peanut Paranoia

by: Rebecca Taylor

Affordable, yummy and easy, good old reliable peanut butter, or at least that’s what I used to think but now I’m not so convinced. I married a man who is extremely allergic to peanuts. Everywhere we go I am afraid; grocery shopping is ever so hard. We’ve only been married six months and I, Genevieve Palmer Corbin, am turning into a different person. My love for him is tearing us apart. He seems oblivious to how serious his condition really is. Now he wants to have children, a little boy he can teach to play catch, and a little girl he can build dollhouses for. He even has their names picked out:  Kieran Andrew and Tara Beth. He’d make a great father but what if they were also allergic to peanuts. I’m already terrified of losing Rob; I don’t think I could go through that with children. I can’t believe I didn’t really realize the implications of his allergy before we were married. Whenever he came over, I’d make sure that the peanut butter was locked away and that nobody had used it in a while. I stopped eating peanut butter altogether because I didn’t want it to get on my clothes or have even a bit of the scent left on me. His allergy is like a terminal illness or death sentence waiting to happen; only we have no warning. I live in fear of losing what means the most to me. I have to read every label on every product I pick up, I’m so tired of reading MAY CONTAIN TRACES OF NUTS on labels. Even a simple candy bar is often forbidden. What if he goes to work one morning at the law firm, someone comes in who had a PB & J sandwich for lunch, and got some on their blouse, my husband smells the peanut butter and goes into shock. Our house is a peanut free zone or at least I hope it is. At work I have warned all the people I eat with that peanut butter is off limits if they care about me, they have agreed that they will be very careful too; they also think I’m rather obsessed on the issue and need to learn to relax. I can’t protect my husband from everything, I’m not trying to, just the peanuts. My husband has tried to make me feel better about the whole thing saying, “I drive a car, I could just as easily get hurt doing that, a filing cabinet could fall on me or any number of other things could just as easily affect anyone in this world,” like he thought that was going to help me feel better. Gee thanks, now I have a whole list of other things to worry about. Six months of marriage and a year of dating, and every night he always comes back to me. He carries a special injection should he come in contact with the nutty substance and he’s been dealing with this ever since he was in grade school and he has always been okay. There have been a few peanut scares but he has always made it through okay, maybe I just have to learn to not sweat the small stuff so much after all we all have a predetermined path, what will happen will happen and Rob is twenty-five, he probably wouldn’t appreciate it if I held his hand every step of the way. We can make it through. I need to face my fears and accept my life for what it is. Maybe some day we’ll even have children, but not yet, I need to learn to slow down and not be so crazy first, after all I’m this way with my husband; I’d be an absolute nervous wreck with children.


If I Could be Honest

Sometimes there are things I want to say. People I would like to spill my heart to, my feelings to. Sometimes I say them.

Sometimes I don’t. I think them and I want to say them but I don’t.

Until I met Sarah. She seemed to nice in the beginning but every once in a while she would just tell me something I don’t want to hear. We were best friends and one day she told me, “Your hair really isn’t that nice, Samantha.”

I laughed it off but then I looked in the mirror that night and wondered if she was right. If my hair really didn’t look that good? I couldn’t decide if she was right.

Eventually, I asked a few of my friends who would tell me the truth as well and they said, in nicer words, that they thought I had “features that were great but my hair wasn’t one of them.”

I realized that maybe it would’ve have been nice to know that earlier. I think I would have appreciated knowing that I wasn’t just super pretty all the time like my friends told me. Maybe Sarah was right.

She eventually left for college and we parted ways. She told me straight up, “I really like being your best friend but distance isn’t going to work.”

I was sad but she was right. I made new friends and so did she. I’m a model now, so it really did work out. But now I know what I should spend more time on (my hair) as I’m preparing.

And I appreciate it. I like knowing that there is something I can work on and I like knowing exactly what Sarah thought of me.

So when I talk to people, I try and tell them what I think. It’s not always easy being honest but at the same time it feels clean. They probably should know my feelings and what I think, just like Sarah always used to tell me.

What will you do?

Hope is a Moment

I strongly believe that everything in life can be broken down into smaller parts. For example, the water in my water bottle is two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen. The ham sandwich I ate for lunch is made of molecules. I am made of cells, literally trillions of cells. And life – life is made of moments. We experience so many moments, yet most we don’t even remember. Many that we do remember are glorious. Some moments are filled with laughter. Some are blissfully peaceful. However, many of the moments I’ve experienced are not. As a kid, the dysfunction I was enveloped in bred many painful memories. You see, families can be cohesive and bond through tragedy, but in my house, misfortune brought out the worst in our human nature.

One day I looked in the mirror and told myself, “Zoe, this is it. This is what life is. Grow up. Watch your back because no one else will.” And that’s all I thought existed in life. Most of the moments I’d experienced had given me reason to loose faith in humanity.

My mentor figures all told me the same thing – someday things would get better. Life would start looking up. I’d find reasons to trust the world again. I waited. I thought my big break would come like a flood, a continual flow of relief from my previous worldview.

That’s not what happened. When a bit of healing did come, it left me just as quickly as it had washed over me. Still, it left an impression. It came one morning while I stood on the city bus. A little kid was standing on my shoe, the bus was stuck in a traffic jam, and I suddenly felt at peace. Not a peace about the traffic; for I knew that would pass, but a larger sort of peace. The thought came to me that if God cares so deeply about the birds of the air, than he must surely care enough about me to not let my past engulf me. The thought came and went, yet it’s had an invigorating effect on me ever since. That was six years ago. Sometimes hope is just a moment, but that’s all I needed.

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