A short fiction piece based on a prompt

I wrote this tonight on a whim, as a response to a little prompt in the writing group I manage. The prompt is the quote that is used as the final line in the story. This is a completely raw piece; it hasn’t even been re-read, let alone even a cursory edit. Forgive any errors.


Quin didn’t have a good reason to be outside in the middle of the night, at least, not if he tried to explain it to his mother. She’d ground him and take away his laptop and his cell phone and would refuse to give him the wifi password because she’d long ago learned about live gaming. Briefly, he thought about how much he still wanted to punch Kyle in the face for ratting him out, but he remembered that his brother was serving time in lockdown back at the house and smirked.

The woods were quiet except for the random hooting of hunting owls and the skittering noises underfoot as their prey fled. The moon was high but through the canopy of leaves he couldn’t tell. Here or there a few stars peered down, but Quin didn’t bother looking up.

Deep in the woods, at the place where he had assembled all the stolen wooden planks and nails he could from his father’s tool shed, he climbed the ragged knot ladder into his treehouse. He had to shoo away a few squirrels but otherwise, the dirty hideout was as he’d left it. Adding in a bird’s nest in one of the corners. He left the birds alone.

He turned on his kerosene lamp and sat on the lumpy cushion from his mother’s old couch. From his pack he withdrew a few items he’d recently pilfered – a pocket knife from his father’s junk drawer, a few stray wooden matches with red tips, and a fistful of his mother’s favorite chocolates. He ate some of them while he tried to flip the pocket knife around between the fingers of one hand.

When Quin knicked himself for the first time on the knife, he paused, quietly observing how painless it was at first. A droplet of blood welled, bubbled up from the slit in his skin, and slid down the tip of his finger to drip onto the floor. At the same moment his blood hit the wood, a terrible sound came from down below. A screech like he had never heard – more closely resembling the pitiful wail of a fawn when its mother had been shot; that had been a sound he thought he would never stop hearing, but he had, a few weeks later. His father didn’t speak of it anymore and never invited him hunting. He stuffed the remaining chocolates into his pocket, worried he would get caught eating them.

Quin crept up to the doorway and inched his face over the opening until he could see down. At the base of the tree was a shape that wriggled, all shadow except for the occasional glint of scales. A pair of wings unfurled from the back and pumped at the air a few times. They did not appear to be of much use yet.

The creature let out another cry. Quin, curious now, checked the area as far as he could see but found no sign of a parent creature. Careful to be quiet, he slipped over the edge of the doorway and dropped himself down a few notches on his rope ladder. The baby creature looked up at him and he froze. For an instant, the two stared at each other. Quin was amazed at what he was seeing, it was like nothing he had ever seen. Not even movies could compare.

The eyes of the creature were milk white and shimmery – they reminded him of his mother’s pearls. Everything else about it was cast in darkness, the shadow of the night too thick to make out any other colors. The creature cried again, louder this time, seeming to be talking to him.

“What is it?” He whispered, unsure of whether or not he thought it would answer him.

It screamed a reply and he slid down a few more knots. The creature scratched its paws at the base of the tree excitedly and made another noise – less alarming, but still too loud. Quin dropped the rest of the way down and brushed off his hands on his shirt. The creature wagged its tail so hard that its entire body seemed to vibrate.

Quin held his breath. He could not believe his own eyes – the creature in front of him, no taller than his kneecap, was a dragon. Unmistakably so. Its thick, bulbous snout and its useless little leather wings were proof enough. All at once, it rammed into him with its huge snout and made the second noise again. It nibbled at his pant leg, near the pocket where he’d stuffed his chocolates.

Tentatively, Quin drew one out and flicked it up into the air. He certainly didn’t want the thing to take his hand off. The dragon jumped up and snatched it right out of the air with a tiny puff of smoke as it snapped its jaws closed. Quin laughed, delighted. The dragon was happy too, he could tell by the swishing of its whole lower body.

Excitement took over. Quin could not wait to get it back to the house, to show Kyle. Immediately, he began making gentle noises to coax it along with him. He walked backwards out of the woods, tripping only two or three times, as he lead it. It followed him, keeping pace and swishing its tail. When it got distracted, he would pull out another chocolate and so it would follow him another few minutes with renewed focus.

At the house, Kyle did not want to be woken up. It was difficult to get him to listen beyond telling Quin to “shut up and go back to bed.” He did not believe that there was a dragon in the backyard, so Quin brought the dragon into the house. The creature loped around the living room, sniffing and bumping into things. The clatter annoyed Kyle enough that he came storming downstairs, his nostrils flairing. “Damn it, Quin, shut up. You’ll get us both in trouble if you wake Mom or Dad.”

Kyle came around the corner into the living room and stopped mid-stride. His eyes went round. “Quin what is going on?”

“I told you! I found a dragon! He likes chocolate.”

The dragon, moving around the room without interruption, had found the small, golden box of chocolates their mother kept on the coffee table. Neither stopped it from chomping on it, though it did not seem to have teeth enough to break through.

“A dragon. You found a dragon.” Kyle’s eyes had not gone back to normal yet. He was amazed. Even more amazed than Quin had expected him to be.

“I’m going to train it,” Quin said. “I’ll teach it tricks and we can sell tickets.”

“Quin, you’re a kid. You can’t train a dragon.” Kyle was dismissive. Quin hated being told he was just a kid. Kyle went on, “Where the heck did you even find the thing?”

Quin scowled. “I found it in the woods, and I’m ten years old! I’m not a kid!”

The dragon hiccuped and a whooshing sound filled the room. A tendril of flame licked out from the tiny dragon and touched the couch. The fire caught instantly, spreading across the couch faster than Kyle could yell out a few curse words.

“You’re going to wake Mom and Dad! Stop cursing!”

Kyle shot him an angry look, his eyebrows knitted together so he could narrow his eyes at Quin. “I think they’ll notice the smoke detector, Quin.”

Kyle had been right, of course. Their parents had come barreling down the staircase only a minute later. They did not like seeing a dragon in their living room, and did he know how expensive couches were, and how was he going to help them fix the living room – which, they wanted to remind him, he had let a dragon set on fire? They didn’t want to hear any of his ideas on how to train it.

The fliers posted all around town were quite the gossip.

“Found lost magical pet, please collect immediately!”

Belated update

So there’s been some pretty serious avoidance going on related to this blog. I’m not sure if it’s because I just always struggle with keeping blogs or if it’s because I don’t feel like I’m keeping up well enough in this challenge so I don’t want to give updates that aren’t “good enough”. Maybe it’s both.

Regardless, it is what it is and I’m long overdue for an update.

I have just recently passed the 200k mark. I have 165k (minimum) left to write and 5 months to do it. I think it’ll be possible, if I stay focused. If I somehow ratchet up my productivity, the remaining 135k to my unlikely goal of 500k might even be within reach. Might.

I’ve done pretty well the last month plus. I’ve legitimately been busy with working on my novels. It’s pretty much a single focus right now, on #WBMAM, with only minor work being done on anything else. I do feel like I’m making great progress, though, and the world building that is happening is exciting and inspiring. I am very satisfied with this drafting, and I think it’s finally growing into its own overall.

Wildly enough, I’ve even picked up poetry again. Not a lot, and not daily, but once in a while now the urge strikes and I’ll jot a few lines down. I’m considering bringing my poetry blog out of retirement (I miss it, and it was only retired because I felt there wasn’t any poetry left for a while). Nothing is decided yet, but I am thinking it over.

I don’t really have too much more to say, I don’t think. Excerpts are on hold until I’ve got enough varied work to draw fresh scenes from without ruining any plots.

It’s 4AM now so I suppose I ought to get off this computer and head to bed.

Night, all.


mini update

This week wasn’t too bad overall for me. I managed to get myself a little more on track for my goals and get myself organized. I’ve started doing weekly “tracking” pages so I can make my to-do lists for projects and keep track of what I do and when and how much I get done, etc. It’s helping a lot to see my progress. I’ve been doing a lot of world building instead of chapter writing and it’s been bothering me, but I know myself and I obviously need to be working this stuff out before I get much else done. It’s my way, but sometimes I feel like I’m failing (even though the words still count? I don’t get it either). Last night alone I managed 2k in world building notes and even got a few hundred fresh words toward a scene! So that’s something.

Monthly Update

May wasn’t an especially productive month, admittedly.  As evidenced by the radio silence I’ve had here for so long.

I spent a good chunk of time saving all my work off a site where I’d spent a few years participating in a number of collaborative works and independent projects.  Over 1000 posts.  It was sad to say goodbye to a place that had helped to define me and the way I write.  As I spent hours (and hours, and hours) going through all of this, I really began to miss the collaborative nature of things.  Whether I realized it or not, it was a huge help to have others to be accountable to.  If I went too long without writing a chapter, I’d feel guilty.  It kept me motivated.  Not to mention the wealth of experience I got from working with others and learning how to develop an idea with so many other minds.

Aside from that, I have been doing a lot more world building than actual chapter writing, but that’s the nature of things sometimes.  My notes are inching up on 39k already for the year.

I have to keep reminding myself that it’s not a race.  I can catch up on my words, and I’m not even *that* behind.  I hate being behind at all, though.

Monthly Update

I am truly godawful at these updates. I suppose it doesn’t much matter, as they’re for me and mostly serve as a means of tracking how I feel during this challenge and boosting my word count with something easy. Still, I feel a certain sense of guilt when I fail to update when I intend to.

I’m working on something to share as an excerpt, but the longer this challenge goes on and the more I find myself working on the same few projects, the harder it gets to find something fresh and self-contained. Excuse or explanation, it’s up to you to decide.

In the meantime, this last month was not horrible. Neither was it great, but it is what it is. I’m still chasing that same exhilaration and success of that first month. It is elusive.

I got about 24,300 words in April. A few thousand short of the overall goal, which puts me behind. I’m trying to remind myself that I can catch up (those random 5k days certainly help) and that it’s just a matter of time, but the frustration is real.  Channeling it into motivation is another matter. Otherwise, I’ve begun drafting up a few new blog posts as well.  Nothing’s ready yet but I’ve definitely got some ideas I’m working on.

I keep considering dabbling in something playful and stress-free. There was once a time I could write ten thousand words for a chapter of fanfiction, though those days are long ago. It might be fun to pick up a little pet project and play around, though; and there are certainly plenty of fandoms ripe with inspiration and tempting me off my own projects.  Honestly, though, working on anything besides #WBMAM feels a bit like cheating nowadays. I tell myself that once it’s finished, maybe then I can play around in another world and really give it my focus.

Most of my progress was in #WBMAM this month, which should be expected if you’re paying attention, with the rest broken up between #MoEm, #ITPOGAM, and general notes (brainstorming notes) I’ve handwritten.

Opinions No One Asked For

For anyone who hasn’t been to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 yet:

Go see it. What are you doing, sitting there, reading this? GO. GO NOW.

You will not be disappointed.

My expectations were pretty high, which I try to reign in because of many recent disappointments with films, but even with them being high, they were blown so far out of the water that I’m still amazed.

I don’t think I stopped smiling with sheer glee for probably the first ten minutes and even after that there were only brief periods in which I was not grinning like a fool.

Highly recommend. 11/10.

Log Update

You guys, I’ve been having a really down month or so in regards to my writing. I’d started this year with very high hopes and a big commitment to this 365 Challenge.

January was great – I was riding high on excitement and basically launching myself happily through scene after scene.

February was a dramatic downward arc. March offered little fresh excitement. I’d hoped April would kick me back into gear (especially with Camp starting), but the first two weeks were in the same monotonous colors as February and March had been.

But last night, though it took me most of a ten hour period, I wrote 5,000 new words. That’s FIVE DAYS worth of my daily goal. It happened without expectation, too. I have no idea why the words suddenly came back, but they did!

I’m hoping I can make use of my last day off (today) in a similar way.

I know I’m practically a bajillion years late with an excerpt, but truthfully, I’ve been working on #WBMAM and I already have a bunch of excerpts posted for that, so I don’t really want to over-share from one project.

Once I get something share-able from another project, I promise I’ll post it straight away!

log update

I seem to be struggling to write outside of my usual late night sessions, even though I have some days off and could be (should be) utilizing them. It is irksome.
Still, I’m not terribly “behind” on Camp, and I’m still focused on writing every day (even the days I don’t get words down) so the habit is there, at least. We’re inching up on 100 days of this challenge and I feel like the habit of at least thinking about finding time to write and chewing on project ideas is becoming firmly entrenched.
I think I might be feeling frustrated because the last two months were not runaway successes for me and I really want to push my boundaries and to surprise myself in regards to what I’m capable of. I find myself believing I set expectations for myself that were unrealistic even though I tried really hard to keep them as grounded as possible.
I should be satisfied with the fact that it’s been 3 solid months of a writing challenge and I haven’t wanted to quit even for a second. I should be satisfied that I’ve written over 95k (!!!!) in the last 3 months. I’ve pared down all the most workable ideas in my notebooks and have dedicated time to each of them regularly even if it’s just some time to ‘meditate’ on the idea. I have begun to tackle my “forever WIP” again, knowing it has historically only seemed too big a challenge to overcome and I have made *REAL* and substantial progress on it. I am doing great things, but it feels like I am moving through molasses.
I think perhaps I need a low key ‘side project’ that I take less seriously just to reinvigorate my excitement levels (I have a number of “fanfic” options I could choose from in my projects list so maybe I’ll ponder that).

NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month)

When my poetry blog was still active, I participated in NaPoWriMo every year for 4 years.

My blog in general was a project I started with the intention of writing poetry every day for one year, then I did it again the second year, and the third, and kind of for the fourth. That’s when I knew it was time to take a break and try something new.

Spontaneously, last night (err… 3AM), I wrote a poem. It’s been probably 6 months or more since I’ve written a poem. I thought it odd but in general I try not to doubt my inspirational instincts so I went along with it. In another group today, someone mentioned NaPoWriMo and I realized immediately why I’d written a poem last night.

Because it’s April, and I’m already behind!  I think this year I’ll worry less about a poem every day and more about working on poetry every day, even if it’s the same poem. I mean, I am participating in another, arguably massive, writing challenge as it is.

The website is apparently unofficial, but it’s a great start, and seeing as I’ve never seen an official site for NaPoWriMo, it’s just nice to see somewhere that people can gather.

I hope some of you consider participating.

I’ve decided to share research bits and such here as well, so here’s something I researched today in the name of Character Development.

Synesthesia: a neurological condition in which a person experiences “crossed” responses to stimuli. It occurs when stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway (e.g., hearing) leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway (e.g., vision).

Types of Synesthesia

chromesthesia – associate sounds with certain colors.
grapheme-color synesthesia – associate colors with letters or numerical digits.
hearing-touch synesthesia – develop tactile feelings whenever they hear specific sounds.
lexical-gustatory synesthesia – are able to taste words.
mirror touch synesthesia – feel exactly what others feel.
number form synesthesia – mental mapping of numbers appearing involuntarily with every thought of a numerical figure.
ordinal linguistic personification – associate ordered sequences (like the months of the year) with behaviors and character traits of personalities.
time-space synesthesia – feel like time has a physical characteristic.
touch-emotions synesthesia – experience physical emotions when they touch specific surfaces or textures.

Original curiosity about this was sparked by this post in which an artist with chromesthesia paints songs.  Her name is Melissa McCracken, and you can find the original interview I read here. The post featured image (above) is one of her paintings, titled “Iron and Wine, Boy With a Coin”, pictured in full below:

iron and wine - boy and coin melissa mccracken synesthesia painter