Category Archives: short story challenge

End of the month bonus story coming soon

When I get your comments with Sparks, I copy them to a text document in the order I get them, then have the number picked to select the Sparks.

I decided to put all the unpicked Sparks into a document in the same way, and at the end of the month I’ll do a bonus story with Sparks that weren’t originally picked. I’m actually considering selecting two numbers, since the site I’m gonna use generates a sequence. So then I’d use six Sparks in one story. I’m kinda playing around with the idea.

Don’t forget to leave your ideas in the comments on this post for this weekend’s story! If yours don’t get picked this weekend, they might get picked for the bonus story which I might make up 2,000 words. 🙂

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Call for Sparks

Ok here’s your weekly call for Sparks. In a nutshell, leave me three objects or a few words in the comments of this post for the next short story, if you’d like to participate. I’m gonna use a random number generator this Friday, so just leave your comment by the end of Thursday this week.

The Sparks that inspired the last story were a surgical scrub brush, headphones and a Post-It note.

This is really fun for me so I hope it’s fun for you too. Thanks in advance!

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ssc2 – “Note” – Fiction – 987 wds

Sparks from Katrin: Surgical scrub brush, headphones, post it note

‘Note’ – by Ro

     Ray groaned as the sudden sound of ‘Free Bird’ tore him from his deep sleep in the sunlit room. He reached over and slammed his hand down hard on the alarm clock, wishing he could sleep the day away. Angrily throwing back the covers, he winced as his feet hit the cold wooden floor beside his bed. Cursing to himself for forgetting to replace his soiled slippers, he shuffled into the kitchen, grateful for the coffee pot with its auto start feature.

     Sitting down at his desk blindly, eyes squeezed shut as he yawned, he bumped the mouse and wished he could wake as easily as the computer. He rubbed his eyes and looked at the monitor, attempting to ignore the bright green Post-It note affixed on the upper left corner. He exhaled deeply as he opened his mail program, wanting to rip the note down but somehow fighting the urge. After sifting through silly forwards and memos from work, Ray dragged himself into the shower, the bright green square of paper burned in his vision as he closed his eyes under the hot spray. The note had had a confusing power over him since appearing two weeks ago.

     After dressing for the day, Ray walked down the steps of his building while cramming his headphones on tight to block out the noise of the city as he jogged to work. Every day he wondered if he could go on. Every day he was afraid the reaper would finally catch up and drag him kicking and screaming back into oblivion. There was a kind of peace in oblivion, but not the kind of comforting peace that lasts. Ray always tried to find the exact right balance, the perfect number which would mean the peace would not abandon him, but no matter how he tried it always failed.

     Ray strode into work with ten minutes to spare before his first surgery and headed into the locker room to change into scrubs, skipping through his iPod until he found the song ‘Down and Out’. He always listened to this song before surgery. He often wondered if all surgeons had their theme song. Sure they did, he thought. I’m no different. He had been thinking that to himself a lot lately. I’m no different. Why was he thinking that over and over? He thought it had something to do with the note, though he did not know why.

     It was getting worse. The note was beginning to haunt him, follow him. Everywhere he went he wondered if the person who told him to write it were passing him on the street, sitting in the coffee shop, laying on the operating table. He trudged into the washroom to scrub, shaking his head as though the motion would rid the thoughts.

     After tying a cap around his unkempt hair, Ray soaped up a surgical scrub brush and began the tedious ritual of rubbing the skin of his hands nearly raw. He used to love this part of the preparation. Scrubbing always meant he was about to be in his element, the stark white operating suite with its bright lights, the stainless steal trays with his favorite equipment, the hiss of the respirator as the patient lay in deep sleep waiting for an ailment to be cured. This day however, Ray’s hands began to shake uncontrollably for the first time in his career. He stopped scrubbing and stared down at his nimble fingers, his livelihood. his worst fear was being realized.

     He closed his eyes and began scrubbing again. The note appeared as if some sort of digital overlay had been implanted in his vision. Clear as day, the blood red letters on bright green paper:

I won’t remember this in the morning, so he told me to write it down. I called for help last night.

     Ray squeezed his eyes tightly until bright lights appeared, scrubbing his hands so violently it hurt, trying to make the image of the note disappear. His breathing quickened as his heart sped up and he remembered, a very foggy memory of grabbing the red Sharpie and scribbling the note to himself and then placing it on the monitor. Up until that exact moment, he hadn’t remembered writing the note but suddenly the memory was there, the sharp smell of marker ink, the broken glass, the cut on his knuckle and the phone call. Ray had grudgingly obeyed the man’s suggestion of writing a note to himself.

     Tears swam in Ray’s vision now and he threw the scrub brush into the sink, his hands trembling, bile rising in his throat. He had to call back; he knew it then. He couldn’t put anyone’s life at risk just because he was too ashamed to call again. His knees felt week and Cotton coated his tongue as the scalding water burned his hands and he tasted salt on his lips. He whirled around and told the surgical nurse he was suddenly violently ill and could not operate. Ignoring her questioning stare and wide eyes, he stumbled back into the locker room tearing off the untarnished scrubs, donned his street clothes and ran, ran down the hall passed astonished doctors, down the stairs and out into the sunshine where he put his hands on his knees, breathing heavily and grateful for non-sterilized air. Tears began drying own his cheeks as he straightened and pulled his phone from his pocket, beginning to dial a number he had somehow memorized.

     When a woman answered cheerily he said, “I called a few weeks ago, I didn’t remember calling but I wrote a note to myself. I’m calling you back because I can’t do this, I need help. I can’t stop drinking.”

     He listened to her soothing understanding and assurances that there were people out there no different from him who could help. Ray didn’t even notice his hands had stopped shaking.

The End.

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Sparks and polls that are gongs

This Sunday’s deadline for the short story challenge is going to be a hard one to meet, especially since right now is the first real computer time I’ve had all day, unlike having the entire day last Friday after Georgie picked the number. We’ll see if I can get the story written and posted by Sunday, but tomorrow I’m going to a memorial service so not sure how it’s all gonna look this weekend.

I’m gonna start calling your ideas ‘sparks’, because they spark an idea for a story, get it, get it? So this week’s sparks were:

1. Carin – A bunch of bananas, a wrench, a pile of dirty clothes

2. Amanda – A guide dog that loves things that squeak, a tall dark mysterious man, a talking Panda

3. Katrin – surgical scrub brush, headphones, post it note

4. Jen and Bil – Turtle, psychology,… mushrooms

Georgie picked the number 3 this morning on the phone, so I’ll be attempting to develop a story around Katrin’s sparks. Georgie doesn’t know what the sparks are, I just interrupt conversation and ask her to pick a number between such and such.

I must say I’m absolutely exhausted right now, after a lengthy phone conversation this morning, actually two, after some incredible excitement which will be another post in a minute if I can muster it. After that Jayden took me to my home gym where I worked out for awhile and then got my first minor head bump on the way home haha! After I had just emailed Jay’s raisers and told them I hadn’t had any work related injuries. Guess the figurative knock on wood wasn’t enough. I’m fine, but it sounded like the gong show when my forehead was introduced to the metal pole holding up the covered parking. Dave’s voice rang through my brain as I bounced off the pole…if you wear a hat…

The car was parked crookedly in the spot, so the space between the first pole and the second one were different. I had completely forgotten about the second pole since the first was no issue. After a rework, Jayden showed me and we went on our way. Luckily I’m fine haha!

It was nice on the way there too. We don’t usually have obstacles on the path, but we did today, and Jayden got me around it like a champ.

I didn’t mean to launch into an update but my fried brain is sending signals to my fingers without my permission. Ha!

Ok, off to write, maybe. Or just zone out. Whichever comes first.

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Filed under Jayden, puppy raisers, short story challenge, spoons, working dog, workouts

Back in the short story saddle

Thanks to Amanda, Carin and Steve, I’m jumping back in the saddle on the short story challenge even though in my mind, I dragged the first story through the mud because I thought there was no interest and it sucked. Yes, yes, I stomped my feet and acted like a prima donna even though B kept telling me it was the first one and that nothing means I can’t write.

So what do you do when you fall off the bike? Get back on. I want to do another one this weekend, so here comes your part. In the comments on this post, if you want, no pressure haha, leave me three words/objects/ideas.

The ones selected for the last one were mountain, string and goldfish bowl. Some of the comments included colors and seasons as well as animals, so just leave me one or two words. I’ll keep them in the order received and Saturday morning I’ll have a non reader pick a number to select the objects by phone.

Amanda reminded me to write for myself and she’s right. I just like having ideas sparked by random words from yawl. 🙂

Deadline for comments is through Friday. Wait I had changed it to pick the objects on Friday. So yeah, leave me comments through Thursday and I’ll have Georgie pick the number Friday morning. I’ll get this down; practice makes perfect, right? 😉

Thanks!! The last story was really great practice.

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Filed under fellowship, short story challenge, silly girl

SSC1 – ‘Fish’ – Fiction – 998 wds

Ideas from Pattib: Mountain, string, goldfish bowl

‘Fish’ – by Ro

Do you ever feel exposed and examined? Like all the world’s a stage, but you’re doing a solo act?

I live in a goldfish bowl. A bulbous glass bowl, the opening narrow. If you look at a goldfish in one of those bowls, it’s magnified right? Is it really though, or am I just imagining a scene from an animated film? Anyway, everywhere I go it’s like people are on the outside looking in and I have this bubble around me, an unseen force keeping them a safe distance away. I’ll tell you about a time at Starbucks.

All I wanted was a mocha. A hush fell when I entered and I imagined my glass shield flying out of my skin to form my protective barrier, the air around me bending, pushing everyone back just a bit. Jazzy music reached me and I had the urge to turn around and do a little dance for my gawkers. After ordering I sidestepped to wait, my forcefield bulging outward. Stay away, the air breathed. Leave her alone. I had planned on staying to read but had instantly changed my mind.

The tapping began. Tap tap, tap tap. Like a child trying to get the fish to acknowledge her. It always happened that way, the hush, people backing away and then one courageous onlooker gets an idea to tap on the glass and I must look at them, imagining my eyes wide and blinking. Normally I would say things like, ‘no comment’ or ‘just running in quickly’ but this time was different.

“Ma’am,” came a quiet greeting in a mild accent I could not place.

Have you ever noticed how one little word said in just the right way can bring a feeling of calm amid chaos? I turned my head as the gurgling of the coffee machines mimicked the jumbled thoughts in my mind. A cowboy stood there leaning against the counter, waiting for is beverage. A real cowboy wearing a hat, tight jeans and boots. He had a kindness in his eyes as he gazed at me, something I was not accustomed to.

“Hello,” I said timidly. Fish are not accustomed to speaking with the peepers.

“Hot out,” the man said, drumming his fingers on the counter.

“Yes,” I said, forgetting how to make small talk. I hadn’t done much of that since before.

“Why is it then, that I always order a hot drink?” the man asked, looking at me as though I knew the answer. I couldn’t help but giggle. I was aware that the hush had escalated to frantic whispers.

“Let me guess, iced mocha?” the man asked.

“How’d you know?”

“Heard you order,” he said, his eyes twinkling. Then he did the unthinkable; he held out his hand, “Tom.”

I took his hand, sandpaper skin against my palm. He squeezed with just the right amount of pressure.

“Jill,” I said.

“Pleasure,” Tom said, tipping his hat. I was stunned mute. I stared at him stupidly, inwardly laughing that now he was in the fishbowl and I was on the outside! This small exchange made me feel almost normal. We received our coffee and I wanted to beg him not to leave. I didn’t need to; he did not leave.

“Want to walk with me?” Tom asked, his kind drawl like comforting music.

“Sure,” I said unable to suppress my smile. Tom must not know who I was. He couldn’t know the scandal this would cause. Probably there were already pictures of us from the photogs with their zoom lenses across the street. Coffee in hand, we turned to face our audience and Tom offered his arm. I laced mine through it as though he were a gentleman and I a lady. Maybe that was actually true. We walked through the whispers and out into the bright sunshine, Tom angling us right. “Where to?” I asked.

“Dunno, don’t you ever just walk? I prefer a mountain, but a city street will have to do.”

We walked in silence for a minute then laughed as we passed another Starbucks, coffee smells from inside greeting those from their siblings in our hands. I was uncommonly happy.

“I’m on your side,” Tom suddenly said and I felt my body stiffen. He continued, “I made a decision back there to engage you, because I admire you.”

I said nothing. He knew me. He’d acted as though he didn’t but he did. I was back in the fishbowl only this time he was plunging his hand in, stirring the water. I dislodged my arm from his, trying not to look disgruntled for the cameras I knew were there just out of sight.

“Do you ever feel like your life is dangling from a string and just when you get some hope that the string won’t break, just when someone is kind they cut that string with a knife?” I asked, the words tumbling out of me, tears threatening.

“I do,” Tom said plainly, not at all phased by my reactive outburst. “That was just unlovely at Starbucks; crowds are the worst.”

We walked, my mocha gone, The final vestiges of it’s bitter sweetness still lingering as my mouth became dry. I glanced at Tom sideways as we walked and something sparked in my memory, some long forgotten photo and headline, the silhouette of a cowboy hat and it clicked! I knew him too, from long ago, from before, and I realized he had lived in the goldfish bowl as well.

“Ah,” I sighed knowingly, slipping my arm back through his.

“Uh huh,” he murmured, tossing his empty cup into a trashcan as we passed.

We walked on purposefully. Tom would be back in the fishbowl now that he had been seen with me but he didn’t seem to care.

I still live in the goldfish bowl, but now I get to frolic around with Tom. Somehow the tapping isn’t as annoying when there is another to share it with…

The End.

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The Roof’s Short Story Challenge, SSC, guidelines

*Edit* “Sparks” are what I’m now calling the ideas I talk about below.

I decided to write a post outlining the short story challenge since it’s morphed a little bit since I first posted the idea and I want to keep this for my reference, as well as have an easy post to refer to in the future if I keep doing these.

I’m following the guidelines I learned in the creative fiction online course I took through Writer’s Village University. They do a free online writing course called F2K and it was in that class that I really started to explore the craft of writing. Anyway, they had a short story challenge that we could participate in if we wanted to and it was great fun. The mentor gave three objects and the goal was to write a short story, one thousand words or less, with a beginning, middle and end, and those three objects had to make an appearance in the story.

I couldn’t believe what those three objects sparked, and the story that came out as I took the challenge. I don’t have it on the blog in case I want to publish it one day.

So that’s the background about where the idea came from for the blog. In the comments on this post, a few of you gave me your three objects and some weren’t inanimate objects at all, but animals, colors or seasons and I really like that.

So from here on out, when I post something calling for ideas, I’ll link to this post for your reference. I’ll just need three ideas, one or two words, not necessarily objects, but I’d like at least one object.

Then I’ll give myself two days to write the story and publish. Originally it was going to be a week deadline, but as this first one taught me, a week isn’t enough of a challenge for me. I’ll likely start asking for ideas on a Sunday, randomly have the ideas picked by Friday and give myself until Sunday to post the story. We’ll see how this goes. 🙂

Already this first one was great practice, so I hope to keep doing this, and I hope I get your one or two word ideas!

PS – I’ll get back to writing about life too, promise. 🙂

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I changed the rules. I can do that. :)

Ok I’m changing my rules on the short story challenge haha! A week deadline isn’t challenging enough for me as I noticed after I set to work. An idea formulated and a story came storming out. I surpassed the word limit though, so the hardest part is trimming it down. I’m giving myself until Sunday to post it. I think it’ll be fun, at least for me if I do this again, to have the topics picked by a Friday and have the story up on the blog by Sunday. Much more challenging. I’m just glad an idea came to me. I wasn’t sure, with how blocked I’ve been, but I figured a short story not related to the novel would be a good break. The goldfish bowl became the muse and I like what I’ve got. Now to trim it, arrrg! Hehehe!

Even if no one else finds this interesting, it’s helping me a lot. There have been so many thoughts gurgling about in my head that narrowing them down to a blog post has been impossible. It’s been a tough week for our country and my town, to say the least. Writing helps me so much. So bear with me as I travel through my creativity induced happy stupor. 🙂

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My first Short Story Challenge Objects

I’ve had some pretty massive writer’s block over the last week. I haven’t even been able to formulate a blog post. So I thought I’d come back to the short story challenge and see if it will spark something.

I never got a response back from a baseball player haha, so I had Georgie pick a number from one to eight. She doesn’t read here, so she had no idea why I was asking. She instantly said seven, which was Pattib’s submission. Sooo, my challenge to myself will be a thousand word or less short story with a beginning, middle and end with the objects mountain, string and goldfish bowl. I’m giving myself a deadline of next Friday. Wish me luck!

Thanks so much for all who gave me objects. It actually morphed into things other than just objects and I kinda like that. I’ll link to this post when I do another one of these. Here were the submissions for the first short story challenge here at the Roof:

1. Carin – chair, knapsack, phone

2. Amanda – Panda, leash, guitar

3. Steve – Squirrel, refrigerator box, stop sign

4. L^2 – Winter, purple, elephant

5. Toby’s Raiser – Polka dots, music, camera

6. Katrin – Pencil, dolphin, rock

7. Pattib – Mountain, string, goldfish bowl

8. Natalie – necklace, nose, paranoid homeless person.

These were all great submissions and with every comment, I was beginning to formulate ideas. I think this challenge is awesome for anyone who wants to try writing, but can’t think of a story. It’s amazing what three words will do for you.

Ok, off to brainstorm!

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Filed under I might be a writer, short story challenge

Want to help me write a short story?

I had this idea yesterday and decided to post it today since I need a little writing project to take my mind off some things.

So remember when I took that writing course? Well, there was a writing challenge that wasn’t part of the class. The challenge was to write a one thousand word or less short story with a beginning, middle and end including three objects, which were given to us by one of the mentors.

The three objects were an empty glass, a blanket and a t.v stand. I wrote a short story including those three objects and briefly posted it on the blog, but JayNoy told me if I ever wanted to publish it, it couldn’t already be published anywhere.

The story involves two sober people and one of their challenges. Some of my friends told me I should try submitting it to a sober magazine and I just inquired to see if they’d be interested, but they don’t take fiction.

So I thought, I want to write something for the blog that will just be for the Roof, not something I’d plan to try publishing. Then I thought, I could do a writing challenge on the blog. I just need three objects.

So here’s where you come in. Leave me a comment with three objects. Any objects. Just not a blanket, empty glass or t.v stand lol. I’ll take comments through Friday. Then I’ll have B or someone who doesn’t read the blog pick a number between 1 and hover many comments I get.

I’ll list the comments in a text document in case there are other comments without objects.

I’ll have the number selected on Saturday and give myself one week to write a short story with a thousand words or less which will include the three winning objects, and post it here. Sound like fun? I think so. It’ll be great practice for me and I’ll get to share something with you all, since I’ve never posted any of my fiction here.

Ok, get commenting! You have until the end of Friday! 😉

Reminder, submissions for the next Assistence Dog Blog Carnival are due by January 17th. Click here for details.

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