April 29, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase, “hit the road, Jack.” You can interpret the phrase any way you like — road trip, goodbye, or story. Go where the prompt leads!
Submissions now closed. View the full compilation here.
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First off, I’d like to give a shout out to Lornett Vestal and team over at the Evolving Man Project where, among other topics and musings, “each week [they] highlight an individual that embodies what it means to be an evolved person, famous and non-famous individuals alike. [Stating that] the world needs to know their stories and deeds.” Primarily, black people/BIPOC.
The latest Evolved Man to be celebrated was Rodney Stotts, creator of Rodney’s Raptors, a licensed falconer and environmentalist, working to provide transformative opportunities to connect youth to the environment and community.
Lornett also hosts a podcast with co-host Brian, where twice a month they discuss new topics and question conventional wisdom, such as the wealth gap, health care system and the US’s response to the pandemic.
It was one hell of a ride, with a blast of an ending. I laughed out loud many times, and shed a few tears for the characters – which only made me care for them more. Their growth was believable and real and they managed to out-perform all of the obstacles the author threw their way, despite their own flaws and hindrances.
I’m keen to read the second, hopefully it packs as much of an emotional thrill as the first.
The real world possibilities explored by the experimentation of the main characters is one I haven’t read about in this way before now.
However, I’m finding it a challenge to feel anything but curiosity for the characters, and the writing is mostly passive-telling, but I’m pushing on. Also, there’s supposed to be a twist ending – according to non-spoiled reviews – which I’m looking forward to.
I think I have a deep-seeded issue with not finishing a book once started. I have to get to the end of this one. I’m just glad it’s quick, and clever – even if entirely oblivious to its blatant sexism – I’m also glad the only long-lived female character is not meant to be a main character.
It’s well written, humorous, full of culture and passion and hard hitting themes, but the kids (and I) are thoroughly enjoying it. Begging for just one more chapter, and asking questions about China, the gods and deities, celebrations, lifestyle, culture and foreign words with unending excitement.
Kids need exposure to a vast variety of other cultures, as many of Earth’s collection as possible, especially those children born in western societies. Even us adults will forever have more to learn. The Dragon Warrior is built for enjoyment and new experiences.
Highly recommended, so far. Will report back when finished, however, with the story setup offered so far, I have no doubt it’ll all payoff.
Current Project – Novel
Still sitting at 25k words. Instead of furthering the plot, I acknowledged the block causing the words to be a slog – despite March’s tactic change – and I went back to basics.
As author Holly Lisle says, “build what you need, when you need it,” and I needed to flesh out my second alien culture further before advancing.
My muse wouldn’t accept any shortcuts. No way. I had to do the work.
You’ll find evidence of this in flash piece Supply Run, which inspired a “day in the life of” story, encouraged by Holly in her Culture Building Clinic*1. And also in Warm Welcome, which furthered my understanding of the other alien race.
Writing a “day in the life of” piece encourages the muse to craft how the culture works in the nitty-gritty inconsequential bits and bobs of daily life. I discovered snippets of insight into their religious beliefs and practices that added layers of complexity to the aliens that will feature in my WIP.
Well worth the week or two off from writing.
Alongside culture, I advanced their language too, which involved the creation of prefixes to denote hierarchy within families where there are multiple adults and elders – an “ah hah!” moment for me.
A tip in Holly’s Language Building Clinic*2 suggests using prefixes or suffixes to make words mean different things in different situations. In this case, the same word for adult or elder in my alien language can be changed to mean “oldest, second or youngest elder/adult” depending on which two letter prefix (we’ ka’ je’ di’ etc) I tack on the front.
My aliens don’t have their own names, per-say, they have a familial name and a title within, so this tactic was vital to ensure writing from the perspective of these aliens flowed.
Even if these characters won’t ever feature in my novels, the work put into world-building allows for layers of depth and complexity within the stories and it gives readers the ability to suspend disbelief while in these worlds.
That’s a power that all writers need to cultivate.
Language is utterly fascinating. Especially when you get to the part where you can create entirely unique concepts just by turning root words into verbs instead of nouns. I.e., the verb form of their race name, would mean “to make/become one of their race”. Just as the verb form of “community” would mean “to make/become a community”, but in a single word.
Now think of this when you create concepts unique to your own worlds and races. Holly’s example in her language clinic is “moonroad” which is a fascinating dive into her paranormal thriller world.
A single, basic noun, with a letter or two on the end (in this case), can create an entirely new concept unheard of to humans.
I now know that many languages on earth do just this. Holly’s clinic has clarified the power of languages and makes it more fun and comprehensible than LOTE ever did in school.
I highly recommend Holly’s range of affordable clinics. I’ll be returning to each of them for every creative project I tackle throughout my career.
They are invaluable.
Do you have a favourite language?
A favourite foreign word?
A concept that sparks your muse into action and entices your creativity in ways that English can’t?
Leave your answers and thoughts below. I respond to each and every comment here on my website. Otherwise, pop over to the contact page and send me an email, I love to hear from readers and writers of all kinds.
For now, remember to:
Explore, create, repeat-
Note * refers to affiliate links, where I will receive a small percentage of the price of the product as payment for sharing Holly’s classes.
I won’t ever use affiliate links for products I do not fully support and highly recommend.
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She lay there cold, with legs exposed, as they spoke. Backs turned to her; she caught few words. “A mess. . .” “No more feeling. . .” “Stiches.” They looked over at her and she held their gaze, wanting answers. The doctor approached, mouth moving in silent speech as he searched for the right words.
“Ma’am, there have been…some tears. You will need stiches to help the healing. I’ll…do my best, but you may never-.”
Her stomach turned, she knew.
A squeak. She pulled a blanket over her chest as she looked down, heart swelling as her baby suckled.
Her hands shook as new friends welcomed them inside. How would they take her? Life before her partner used to mean refusing these invites; too scared to take risks. They sat together. She stared at her dinner. Everyone laughed at his jokes as he kept her safe from attention, helped her relax. She started contributing, a word here, comment there. “He always forgets things, he’s male,” she said smiling, glancing at him. The light in his eyes faded. Her stomach felt sick. “But I do too,” she added, kissing him tenderly to fend off her hated negativities of old.
Mind cycling through the daily routine, I slowly slide off the bed. I waddle around with my swollen belly, pain erupting from inconveniently placed baby kicks. I feed the animals, step back inside, breathe. Head spins from standing too long washing dishes. Turn on washing machine, more pain; crouch down, turn, bend, breathe. I waddle up the stairs. Panting at the top, I head toward the girls’ room. “Good-morning Mum-mum!” my three year old squeaks, “cuddle, please!” I embrace her. She nuzzles into my chest, “I love you thousands and millions!” My heart swells and I feel invincible again.