Ned helped out

Prompt: Celebrate


Well, Wednesday, summer was certainly in a hurry to rush off, and so here I sit in front of a charming gas fireplace while it drizzles and blows outside.

The theme today is “celebrate” and there is much to make merry about today (and perhaps every day, if we devoted a little thought to it). How are we merry? Let us count the ways:

  1. My goddaughter gave birth to her third son, and I suspect they will end up with seven children as they keep trying for a girl. In any case, they are a fine, funny family at any size, and the new arrival is greeted with joy by all except the 3-year old who is peeved because they didn’t give the baby the name he wanted: Macaroni and Cheese.
  2. Fall wardrobes of soft fleece and plush wools, and that feeling of smugness and invincibility you get when you wrap up to go out and face the elements. It may be brisk and windy but you are toasty warm in your jacket and fuzzy gloves.
  3. The quickie kitchen book I am writing is ticking along, albeit at a slower pace than anticipated. That’s because I had another creative project to finish first. Creative projects rule!
  4. I still live by the lake. It helps to be happy to look out your window—even if it is a view of the laundromat across the street, since laundromats are good and and give us clean, warm clothes.
  5. Trump may finally be impeached. It might be too early to celebrate, since the man has escaped consequences for countless earlier sorry misdeeds, but what the hell. Bring on the confetti.
  6. Scones. Scones should be celebrated year round. Think of hot buttered scones with tea on a chill autumn morning.
  7. I had a really, very, too much fun dream the other night, which I am so sorry I can’t relate because it is of an adult nature, but trust me, it was a good one.
  8. Tomatillos.

And now, as an anticlimax, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons related to the prompt, “celebrate”?

cartoon birthday party clown

cartoon leave party

cartoon ned helped


Peace and love,

~~FP

Westmalle [Repost]

Prompt: Love

blue-crayon

Leep blushed so hard that his ears burned. The lights had just been dimmed, and the servers were going around the restaurant lighting table candles. Amanda had disappeared to the Ladies’ Room shortly after they sat down, when the light was brighter. She would return to a romantic, candle-lit environment.

Why had she gone as soon as they sat down? Maybe she called a girlfriend, complaining that she had to spend time with someone like Leep. He wore a clean shirt, white with thin blue stripes, freshly ironed, but his pants were the dark ones, the ones he wore to Ham and Dolly’s wedding, and the night he shot Hootie in the ass. They hadn’t been to the dry cleaners since. Maybe they emitted horrible, bloody vibes, that every one in the room could feel. He blushed some more.

The restaurant was near full, no music or distraction except the mellow, muted buzz of conversation. A server came and stood in front of Leep. “May I bring you and the lady something to drink?” he asked.

“Water,” said Leep, and the server disappeared. Should he have ordered wine? The waiter was probably sneering at him behind his back. He didn’t know anything about wine, or anything about what Amanda liked to drink. Did they have to drink? This was a business meeting after all. But why here, in this place?

“I’ve always wanted to eat here,” said Amanda with a smile, as she sat down and pulled the chair closer. “Really nice, isn’t it?” They both looked around. It was modern, clean, with large shuttered windows and pools of lights in the corners, and sets of three candles on each table.

They both picked up the menu and began reading. Leep blushed at the silence. The food looked strange and expensive. He would stick to what he knew. Salad and a steak, if he could find them.

“Do you have Belgian beer?” he asked when the server came around a second time to enquire about alcohol. Amanda had ordered a glass of Pinot Noir. Leep knew a bit about beer now, and the server, startled, opened the wine list to the back page.

“I believe…” the server said uncertainly.

“Yes, here. I will have the Westmalle.” Leep pointed. He’d never tasted a Belgian Tripel.

“I’m flattered that you want me to be your editor,” Amanda said when the server backed away.

“I can pay you,” Leep said.

“Yes, but—“

“I have an investor,” said Leep. “I can afford to self-publish ‘The Blue Rabbit’. Did you get the manuscript with all the ideas?”

“But you see, I work for Panhandle Press, which does not do self-publishing.”

“I know,” said Leep. “This is separate.”

Leep ordered the house salad even though it had pecans in it, which Leep didn’t like, and which was the cheapest appetizer on the menu, and the Porterhouse steak, which was the most expensive entree on the menu. Amanda ordered eggplant gnocchi and the sea bass special.

“I love the idea of supplying a blue crayon with each book so the children can colour the blue rabbit themselves,” said Amanda.

“You do?” Leep blushed. His skin was tired of blushing, and the dressing on the salad was too sweet.

“Yes, perhaps we can do a board book, so the colour can be wiped off as many times as they want,” said Amanda.

“And the story?”

“Improved.”

Leep had to admit the steak was darn good. They were thinking about dessert, or another drink, or coffee, when someone screamed.

It was strange, Leep thought, how something as loud and shocking as a scream yields to a suspended silence, a void, a vacuum that sucks up breath and speech. There the silence hung, for long milliseconds, until the room came alive with movement and talk and shouting.

“Oh my god,” said Amanda.

People seemed to be rushing about, and a wall of staff hid the source of the scream, a table near the window. A few minutes later, an ambulance sounded.

“What happened?” Amanda asked the waiter when he returned to talk about cheesecake. He said someone was ill, nothing to do with the food. “Did you see anything, Leep?”

“No,” said Leep. Then to the server: “Bring the check.”

“Leep, it is my treat,” said Amanda. “You are my client now. It is tax-deductible.”

Through the window they could just see a gurney, plump with a strapped-in body, being loaded into the ambulance. It disappeared with lights flashing but no siren.

Leep had himself an editor, his own editor, who liked his ideas and, for the most part, his book. He tasted a Westmalle Tripel for the first time. Someone got sick or died and upset the universe of the restaurant and distracted attention away from Leep and his failings. His meal was tax-deductible. Amanda didn’t seem to hate him and probably did not complain about him to her girlfriend when she went to the Ladies’ Room.

This was the best date he had ever been on.


Sunblock

Prompt: Brave


Dear Wednesday,

What day is it? Are we close to Nanowrimo? I’m not ready to write my 1600 words per day. This takes courage. I don’t have any!

As in, I’m not brave, which is the daily prompt.

Why am I scared of a laptop and a keyboard and a story half-formed in my head? There are killers and monsters of all kinds out there roaming the earth, most disguised as human beings. Every time we step outside our door we risk being struck by lightning, attacked by a vicious dog, being in the line of fire when our neighbour cleans his rifle, looking up to see a nuclear warhead directed towards our front porch, or, sure, getting hit by a runaway bus. Yet I am ‘asceered’ of a number (albeit a large number) of words.

I forgot to mention other perils when we set forth into the world, which include failure, falling on our face, trailing toilet paper under our shoe, tucking our skirt into our undies, getting publicly caught in a lie, losing an ethical battle, being unable to pick up the fragments of our shattered lives and… well, you get the picture.

National Novel Writing Month challenges us to face failure– and win, or at least die trying. Not die exactly, but expend as much toil and angst as if he had written the full complement of 50,000 words. Which, they tell us, is an accomplishment, too!

Sure it is. Fine.

But I am a competitive person. Not with you, your him, or them, but with myself. It’s how I quit smoking! It’s how I managed to ‘win’ all previous Nanos. A better word might be stubborn. And, I love the couple of days after completing the challenge, when family and friends are so damn proud, even though they have not yet seen a word I’ve written and are taking my achievement on faith.

So to lessen the anxiety of the swiftly approaching November 1st, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons, precisely none of which relate to today’s word prompt:

cartoon book of sunblock


cartoon Cat-Guru


cartoon image lineup


Have a happy, productive, courageous week.

~~FP

 

Westmalle

Prompt: Candle

blue-crayon

Leep blushed so hard that his ears burned. The lights had just been dimmed, and the servers were going around the restaurant lighting table candles. Amanda had disappeared to the Ladies’ Room shortly after they sat down, when the light was brighter. She would return to a romantic, candle-lit environment.

Why had she gone as soon as they sat down? Maybe she called a girlfriend, complaining that she had to spend time with someone like Leep. He wore a clean shirt, white with thin blue stripes, freshly ironed, but his pants were the dark ones, the ones he wore to Ham and Dolly’s wedding, and the night he shot Hootie in the ass. They hadn’t been to the dry cleaners since. Maybe they emitted horrible, bloody vibes, that every one in the room could feel. He blushed some more.

The restaurant was near full, no music or distraction except the mellow, muted buzz of conversation. A server came and stood in front of Leep. “May I bring you and the lady something to drink?” he asked.

“Water,” said Leep, and the server disappeared. Should he have ordered wine? The waiter was probably sneering at him behind his back. He didn’t know anything about wine, or anything about what Amanda liked to drink. Did they have to drink? This was a business meeting after all. But why here, in this place?

“I’ve always wanted to eat here,” said Amanda with a smile, as she sat down and pulled the chair closer. “Really nice, isn’t it?” They both looked around. It was modern, clean, with large shuttered windows and pools of lights in the corners, and sets of three candles on each table.

They both picked up the menu and began reading. Leep blushed at the silence. The food looked strange and expensive. He would stick to what he knew. Salad and a steak, if he could find them.

“Do you have Belgian beer?” he asked when the server came around a second time to enquire about alcohol. Amanda had ordered a glass of Pinot Noir. Leep knew a bit about beer now, and the server, startled, opened the wine list to the back page.

“I believe…” the server said uncertainly.

“Yes, here. I will have the Westmalle.” Leep pointed. He’d never tasted a Belgian Tripel.

“I’m flattered that you want me to be your editor,” Amanda said when the server backed away.

“I can pay you,” Leep said.

“Yes, but—“

“I have an investor,” said Leep. “I can afford to self-publish ‘The Blue Rabbit’. Did you get the manuscript with all the ideas?”

“But you see, I work for Panhandle Press, which does not do self-publishing.”

“I know,” said Leep. “This is separate.”

Leep ordered the house salad even though it had pecans in it, which Leep didn’t like, and which was the cheapest appetizer on the menu, and the Porterhouse steak, which was the most expensive entree on the menu. Amanda ordered eggplant gnocchi and the sea bass special.

“I love the idea of supplying a blue crayon with each book so the children can colour the blue rabbit themselves,” said Amanda.

“You do?” Leep blushed. His skin was tired of blushing, and the dressing on the salad was too sweet.

“Yes, perhaps we can do a board book, so the colour can be wiped off as many times as they want,” said Amanda.

“And the story?”

“Improved.”

Leep had to admit the steak was darn good. They were thinking about dessert, or another drink, or coffee, when someone screamed.

It was strange, Leep thought, how something as loud and shocking as a scream yields to a suspended silence, a void, a vacuum that sucks up breath and speech. There the silence hung, for long milliseconds, until the room came alive with movement and talk and shouting.

“Oh my god,” said Amanda.

People seemed to be rushing about, and a wall of staff hid the source of the scream, a table near the window. A few minutes later, an ambulance sounded.

“What happened?” Amanda asked the waiter when he returned to talk about cheesecake. He said someone was ill, nothing to do with the food. “Did you see anything, Leep?”

“No,” said Leep. Then to the server: “Bring the check.”

“Leep, it is my treat,” said Amanda. “You are my client now. It is tax-deductible.”

Through the window they could just see a gurney, plump with a strapped-in body, being loaded into the ambulance. It disappeared with lights flashing but no siren.

Leep had himself an editor, his own editor, who liked his ideas and, for the most part, his book. He tasted a Westmalle Tripel for the first time. Someone got sick or died and upset the universe of the restaurant and distracted attention away from Leep and his failings. His meal was tax-deductible. Amanda didn’t seem to hate him and probably did not complain about him to her girlfriend when she went to the Ladies’ Room.

This was the best date he had ever been on.


Character Arcs

Prompt: Paint

Leep rabbit 2

“The app is called Brushy Pro!,” said Leep. “You need the exclamation mark or it might not come up in Search.”

“You have a unique illustration style,” said Amanda Thirsty, frontline editor for Panhandle Publishing. She was delegated to the newcomers, the first-timers, and the persistent. She had held this particular post for close to a year, and felt it was time she was promoted. There was no editing; just reading and rejecting or reading and sending to actual editors. Her colleague, Donahue Warrenburg, had already moved on and up, and he was hired after she was. It was frustrating. But she tried not to take it out on the writers who sought her advice and acceptance. Sometimes she failed.

Before Leep could bask in her almost-compliment, Amanda added, “I mean unique in the sense of a certain personal quality, which would not necessarily be suitable for a professional publication.”

“I know,” said Leep, who in any case had no high hopes for the illustrations to his book. He was not a professional artist, after all. “But you liked the story itself, right?”

“We…” said Amanda, realizing suddenly that she was sounding like a corporate asshole, “—that is to say, I— liked your book. It was sweet and engaging. The Blue Rabbit is a nice character, but have we seen it before? How many children’s books have a rabbit or other cute animal as the main character?”

“Every story has been told,” said Leep. That’s what the editor before Amanda had said to him, and he remembered. He might not be brilliantly smart, but he remembered things.

“Yes, of course,” said Amanda. “But there seems little fresh material in the story arc, from lonely Blue Rabbit to popular Blue Rabbit.”

“What about the carrot soup? And the rescue?”

“In some ways these details will be distracting for three to five year olds, which is your market, am I correct?”

“Yes,” said Leep. That’s what Mr Warrenburg suggested to me, based on what he read.”

Amanda heard the petulance in Leep’s voice, and sympathized. She saw that Leep was a regular submitter of manuscripts, none of which had made it past a lowly, initial reader like Amanda. She was his third contact at Panhandle, and who knows where else he shopped his books around?

“Here’s the thing, Leep,” said Amanda, leaning forward. “The Blue Rabbit goes from sad to happy, but there is no clear reason for it. The incidents that made others more friendly to him had nothing to do with his actions. We need the Blue Rabbit to learn something, we need to see what changes occurred within him. Not just the same character, who is unhappy, then some random stuff occurs, and then he is happy. Do you understand?”

“Well…” said Leep.

“You may think that children’s stories need less attention,” said Amanda.

“No,” said Leep. “Just that I don’t know how to write that way.” He felt a great heaviness in his heart. He feared losing the dream of publishing a book,  losing the exhilarating feeling of having something that he passionately wanted to do, and feared the empty hole that lost passion would leave.

Amanda saw Leep’s face relax into a kind of deeply sad resignation. “Think of yourself, or your friends,” said Amanda quickly. “Think of a time you, or they, were lonely and unhappy. How did it change?”

“I knew a guy who won 20,000 dollars in a lottery,” Leep said.

“Except for him. Just think about it, Leep. Think about how in a story we need the actions to represent what the character is going through inside.Think about change, what causes it, and what happens.”

Leep was quiet for a moment. He was good at listening and remembering, much better than people thought. He thought he understood what Ms Thirsty meant, and he could spend some time thinking about it. Thinking about his own personal “character arc”, and maybe the arc of Vincent Demarco. “Ok,” he said at last. Amanda Thirsty closed the folder containing his manuscript and illustrations, and pushed it across the desk to him.

“Don’t give up,” she said.

“Ok,” said Leep.

“What was the name of the painting app that you used?”

Brushy Pro!” Leep told her. “With an exclamation point.”