Month: January 2014

Sometimes a meme says it all.

This is me reading John Gardner‘s work on fiction:



Wildcard Wednesday Fiction Improv–GO!

By popular demand, after the fun that was The Twelve Days of Fiction, I’m going to try to host a random fiction improv once a month here at Will Write for Tomato Pie.


The rules are thusly:  

  1. I will post a writing prompt on a sort-of randomly selected Wildcard Wednesday.
  2. In 10 minutes or less, you write something based on that prompt.
  3. Post it to your blog.   After you’ve written your response to the prompt, add the link for your blog post to the list by clicking next to the little blue frog face below where it says “Add your link.”
  4. Please make sure that the URL you submit is to your response to the Wildcard Wednesday prompt, not to your main blog URL.
  5. Include a link back here in the post on your blog.
  6. If it’s PG-13 or better and you don’t have a blog of your own, feel free to enter it as a comment on this post, but please note that this is my house, so if I find your post offensive, it’ll be shorter by the head.  I love free speech, though, so take this as your opportunity to get thee to a bloggery.

I invite you to Tweet the link to your prompt with the hashtag #WCW so we participants can find each other on Twitter.  Another fun Twitter tag to try is #improv, which will connect you with anybody on Twitter doing any kind of improv. #amwriting is another goodie.

Okay, that being said, this is my first time trying one of these, so if the linkup stuff doesn’t show, let me know.  I’ll see what I can do.

PROMPT:  He wore an old scarf.  

A note on responding to the prompt:  Use the prompt as your first sentence.  Or don’t.  Just use it as a jumping-off point and go from there.  I don’t care.  Just write for ten minutes and share it.  Don’t worry about playing by writing rules, because I don’t have any here, and if you’re looking for rules to follow on improv like this, you’re probably looking for an excuse to not write, in which case, try another hobby.  Scrapbooking.  Quilting.  Swimming.  Anything but this, because writing brings new meaning to the term “hot mess.”

Now, here’s hoping the linkup stuff will show up here:

Improv, Like Bacon, Is Good For You

Apparently, so is bacon:

Anyway, if you saw last week’s Seven Quick Takes, you saw this handy dandy (admittedly oversized) square-thing:

WildcardWedImprovButtonYou also may have visited previously during the Twelve Days of Fiction Improv Fest.  Anyway, my plan is to host a monthly linkup of responses to a writing prompt.  Think “Scenes from a Hat” from Whose Line Is It Anyway?  Here are some quick reasons why fiction improv, like bacon, is good for me.  Erm, and you.

  1. Improv helps you connect with others as a writer without the stress of going through a critique.
  2. Improv helps you practice sitting down and writing without a large imposing deadline.
  3. Improv forces you to be concise.
  4. On the same note, improv limits you to using only one point-of-view in your story, which is a good practice for increasing clarity in character-focused fiction for your longer projects.

Want in?  This Wednesday, January 29 will be our first Wildcard Wednesday Fiction Improv here at Will Write for Tomato Pie.  The rules, linkup and writing prompt should be available well before you wake up on Wednesday (unless you’re in AUS/NZ, in which case, at least by lunchtime).

Have you ever done fiction improv before?  What was the best part of the experience?  Would you consider trying it again?




The most obvious cause of bullying, like, EVAR

I’ve heard from a handful of readers who have really responded to the issue of bullying as portrayed in Don’t You Forget About Me.  It seems the scars never really do go away.  As for myself, I don’t think I could’ve written the book myself if I hadn’t long since put my experiences as a victim of bullying into perspective, thereby forgiving those who’d hurt me.  A vengeance novel is far less satisfying to the reader, because it’s frankly about the writer and not about the shared human experience.  Anyway, I didn’t think I had any more work to do regarding that area of my past. I got healing, ultimate joy, compassion and a book out of it.  What more did I need?

Apparently, as a mom, I needed this article, which I stumbled across in the feed of a Facebook friend.  In all our efforts to curb childhood bullying, how did we never notice that kids who aren’t bored don’t bully?

Unidentifiable child on playground (Source: ONE News)The playground at my grade school was an empty parking lot.  There wasn’t even any play material or play structure of any kind on it.  We were allowed to bring jump ropes and footballs, which is great if you can jump rope or play football.  If you can’t do either of those well, then, you are, forgive the phrase SOL.  There was a green area with trees on the property, but we would’ve had to walk through a graveyard to get there, and that was certainly off limits.  In other words, that place was a petri dish for the culturing of bullies. It’s not even like it was the other kids’ fault.

So.  What was your experience with childhood bullying?  I’m especially interested in hearing from you if you think you were the bully (though, statistically speaking, bullies don’t usually know they’re bullying–after reading that article, I imagine they probably just remember it as playing).  Do you think boredom on the part of the bully had anything to do with it?  Would an environment like the one described in the article have helped or hurt?


7QT: The ::cough:: Fast-as-I-can ::wheeze:: Edition

7_quick_takes_sm1 (1)

Join with Jennifer at Conversion Diary and amigos as we participate in 7 Quick Takes Friday.


It’s the feast of St. Francis DeSales, patron of writers!

Why is this guy our patron? Because he didn’t just write. He brought his writing to others through producing pamphlets, posters and so on. He’s also the patron specifically of Catholic press.


According to these folks, St. Francis de Sales, “was overworked and often ill due to his heavy workload. However, he remained active, particularly using his talent for writing to assist him in ministering to others.” This makes me feel especially close to the guy because I myself am sick–again! It’s a pretty vicious episode of asthmatic bronchitis–again. If you can spare a prayer, I’d appreciate it.


Our family picked up whatever virus this is while we were on our Christmas gift trip to Disney World. It was a great trip in spite of the phleghm.


Wednesday was another March for Life that I was too sick to attend. I was even too sick to sit up and post more than a #praytoendabortion tweet, but this was mine.


Why that? I was born at the end of 1973. I was also raised to be “normal,” (a. k. a. not obediently Catholic, certainly not pure in any way that might stand out). While I never quite hit that mark (on many levels), I am of the generation that knows a lot of people–loves a lot of people very much–who’ve had abortions. If I speak out about this, then I am speaking out against my friends who are likely to respond like wounded animals, and rightly so. However, the friends of mine who’ve talked to me about their abortions have always said almost the exact. same. words.

“I just couldn’t do it.”

They weren’t being selfish, lazy, callous, heartless, or any of the gazillion other things we hear them called. They were being honest with themselves and what we’ve all been told we can and can’t do. I doubt they (well, most of them) believed the lie that “It’s not a child. It’s a choice.” The lie they–and I frequently–believed was that we are simply incompetent.

Honestly, that is a hard thing not to believe. Face it: we live in a country where we’re being told we aren’t even capable of mixing our own grated cheese and bread crumbs to make a good-enough casserole topping.  Of course we’re going to think that there is no way we could ever do the most difficult thing in the world:  raise a child.

If we want to stop abortions, we need to give each other more credit. We need to believe in each other. We need to give ourselves the chance to kick butt. Because we can do it.

I believe in you.  Rant over.


Next month I’ll be giving a talk on writing, publishing and networking at the Exton, PA Barnes & Noble to their Wordwrights Writers Group. More details forthcoming!


Congrats to all the nice folks who are nominated for Sheenazing Awards over at A Knotted Life! It’s a long and distinguished list!


Stay tuned!  This Wednesday, January 29, I’m working on a little surprise for you writers (seasoned, aspiring, and otherwise)!  Hint:


12 Days of Fiction Day 3: Three French Hens

It’s never too late to get caught up with improv!  We have posts for all twelve of the Twelve Days of Fiction with the exception of The Third Day:  Three French Hens.

by E8 Album HQR Initiative

So, if you have 10 minutes to spare, write a piece of fiction in 10 minutes or less with your interpretation of the phrase “Three French Hens.”  Then, post it on your blog and comment here with the link, or post your whole improv as a comment below.  Make sense?  Aaaaannnnd…. GO!

ETA:  Just in case this works and you want to post your link in the linkup here (if it shows up, that is), by all means…

12 Days of Fiction, Day 12: Twelve Drummers Drumming

Welcome to the twelfth and final post of the “12 Days of Fiction” series, where a volunteer writer is assigned a random writing prompt from the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” All writing on the prompt must be done in 10 minutes or less.

 by E8 Album HQR Initiative

Volunteers have been cultivated through the original 12 Days of Fiction invite, the Catholic Writers Guild members-only Facebook page, my Facebook page… and I think that’s it. Thanks to for the random number generator.

And now, at long last, let’s welcome back Kimberly Hartman, who is drumming us through the final prompt!  Thanks, Kimberly, and all our improv writers! I really enjoyed how each writer found his or her own way to interpret the song lines that we take for granted almost into new and fresh ideas–and writing them didn’t have to take a large chunk of your time.

This has been so much fun that I am looking into posting a regular writing prompt linkup.  Would that be of interest?  


“They Will Keep Drumming”

by Kimberly Hartman

He’d already had the 10 minutes of terror, and was looking forward to the 50 minutes of sheer boredom that everybody was talking about. The new guy always had the worst shift, he grinned to himself wryly. At least he could could relax for a min – “got five more coming in.” Said the nurse on comm.

“Can’t they be diverted– We got our hands full.”

“They are being diverted – to us.”

“K, I hear the first one” he ran so fast that they often said he left his hair color behind him. The triage nurse called in sick so he was doubling on that too. “Keep them moving steady.”

“Okay head injury 08. Alright okay Pneumothorax okay, 06. This one, broken femur, 09, keep the CPR going on that one, Crash cart to 11, don’t want to lose him. This one to 12, catch that medic alert wristband.”

ERs always sounded calmer in real life, than they were on TV. Order so quickly executed that they could’ve been chaos. All 12 rooms full, but none lost yet; on the edge but all hearts still beating, still drumming. If he had any say, and God be with him and his team, they would keep drumming.


12 Days of Fiction, Day 11: Eleven Pipers Piping

by E8 Album HQR Initiative

Readers, I hope you love this as much as I did.  Amazing how 10 minutes of work by one writer can turn on the waterworks–as well as the legit appreciation–of one reader.  Anyway, without further ado, I present to you Dennis P. McGeehan‘s contribution to our 12 Days of Fiction.  Grab the tissues.  Thank you, Dennis!


Eleven Pipers Piping

A young boy stood alone on the grass of the cemetery. He raised his Flute to his lips and began to play. He played a Hymn to honor those resting in their graves, his ancestors and strangers alike. Most of the graves were marked with military insignia and crosses and stars of their faith. His lone flute sent notes through the cold winter air, Amazing Grace how sweet the sound.

A teen appeared dressed in a torn uniform, a bandage on his head. He too raised a Flute and joined the boy in a tune. The boy did not know where he had come from but he was grateful for the company. The teen’s Pipe added to the boys, That saved a wretch like me.

A man in a kilt appeared with a Bagpipe in his grasp. Around his waist was a sword, he was dirty and sweat poured down his face and steam rose from his forehead. How strange thought the young boy, he was so hot on such a cold day. The Pipe played loud and clear, it notes echoing from the tombs nearby,  I once was lost.

Three men marched out of the nearby woods. One wore an Army uniform, another a Navy and the third a Marine. They carried Fifes and the trill of their instruments lifted high above that of the Bagpipe and seasoned the Flutes.  The Army Fifer hands were bleeding but he kept playing. The Navy Fifer’s uniform was water soaked and his face was ashen grey. His face and head were covered in oil. The Marine’s whole body was burned as if it had been on fire. His Fife now was on fire. The Navy’s Fife surfaced loud and clear joining the Army’s full hearted proclamation , But now am found.

Five others marched across the cemetery. One wore the turnout gear of a Fireman, another a Police Officer. A third was a Nurse her uniform stained with smoke and blood. A Priest marched with them, a Crucifix in his hands and his cassock bright red with blood from his neck and next to him a woman hobbled with great age and grief. They all carried Pan Flutes and joined their music to the others,Was blind but now I see.

The boy paused and when he ceased to play so did the others. He looked at the teen who had first joined him and asked, “Who are you and who are these Pipers?”

The teen replied, “I was the Piper when our Army fought on this ground in our fight for freedom against the King.  The Scotsman is a member of the troops in the War of 1812, the three from the woods, the Soldier, the Sailor and the Marine all fought in World War 1 and the Fireman, Police Man, Nurse and Priest all gave their lives fighting in our war against the Terrorist today.

“But who is the old woman, surely she did not fight, she can barely walk.”

“She is everyone’s mother and grandmother who fought in every war with their prayers for their sons and their sons companions. Their prayers filled the heavens like our music filled the cold air of this hallowed ground.”

The cold winter evening came on and the light grew dim. The boy raised his Flute and began to play and one by one the souls departed,

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.


12 Days of Fiction, Day 10: Ten Lords A-Leaping

Welcome to the tenth post of the “12 Days of Fiction” series, where a volunteer writer is assigned a random writing prompt from the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” All writing on the prompt must be done in 10 minutes or less.

 by E8 Album HQR Initiative

Volunteers have been cultivated through the original 12 Days of Fiction invite, the Catholic Writers Guild members-only Facebook page, my Facebook page… and I think that’s it. Thanks to for the random number generator.

Please welcome Nicolle French Bailey, a member of the Catholic Writers Guild, a wife, mom, and an artist. Take it away, Nicolle!


Marc couldn’t figure out how he should be expected to wake up, let alone go for the 3K conditioning run charted for him. As he tried to choke down the cafeteria food, loudspeaker Christmas carols mocked him. One look out the wide windows told him it was pouring rain outside.

“Go old school,” his coach back home had begged him, but now all Marc wanted to do was phone Coach Carl and whine. How was Marc supposed to do what everyone back home expected—erase the 42 cm between him and his next contender in the national triple jump standings? Marc had been at university for one term and it had wiped him out. Finals and papers were so exhausting he’d not even made it to the athletic department training table this morning, settling for this gelatinous muck in front of him.

His window was about 17 months. In that time, Marc had to figure out how to fly like an eagle. How would he make it into the top ten and get to the Olympic trial jump-off?

“… Eleven pipers piping, ten lords a-leaping, …” teased the canned music.

Words from Coach Carl, months ago, pushed back Marc’s fog. “No one knows ‘til they’ve really pushed themselves. That includes you, leaper boy!”

Ten lords a-leaping, indeed, thought Marc, Time to face the music and dance. He walked out into the downpour.

12 Days of Fiction, Day 9: Nine Ladies Dancing

Welcome to the ninth post of the “12 Days of Fiction” series, where a volunteer writer is assigned a random writing prompt from the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” All writing on the prompt must be done in 10 minutes or less.

 by E8 Album HQR Initiative

Volunteers have been cultivated through the original 12 Days of Fiction invite, the Catholic Writers Guild members-only Facebook page, my Facebook page… and I think that’s it.  Thanks to for the random number generator.

If you’d like to join in, let me know.  We may have days yet unclaimed.  Comment on this post or on the original 12 Days of Fiction invite (or on any of the above, if you have clearance to get to them), and I’ll comment back with your day and writing prompt.

And now here’s another contribution, “Unexpected Assist,”  from Kimberly Hartman of Catholic Writers Guild fame!  Thank you, Kimberly.  I’m excited that this got you writing!  Kimberly’s previous piece in the 12 Days challenge is here.


Unexpected Assist


He felt the fragile wood of the box lid he was carving give way. He flung aggrieved workman’s hands heavenward.

“Bozhe me! You  would t’ink to give a friend a break, maybe? What the heck am to do wi’dis, den? Dis man’s frigerator, dat woman’s heater, never any time – am late anyway, dis supposed to be ‘de twelve dancing princesses’, an what you give me? Nine! Nine only!”

Being out of breath was the only thing that stopped his rant, just long enough to hear the faint sound of carolers outside. Eye grew wide, and he grinned crookedly and laughed.

“Hokay, enough with two-by-four. Gift soon done, on time too. D’ankuyu for help.”

Still chuckling, Sergei sanded the rough edge. Just enough left to finish the edging. He might have known…