A Distracting Thumping Noise

There is an arrhythmic metallic thudding sound coming from a place behind me and to my left.  It is distracting.  While I know how to make it stop, I hesitate to take the required steps.  They would make the thumping stop for now but would likely increase the possibility of hearing more of it in the future.

What is this annoying sound that has lately increased in frequency?  It’s my parrot, who has discovered that if he tugs on the corner of his cage it has just enough give to make a fun noise when he lets go.

The challenges of ending this sound are threefold.  One, he likes making the sound, so it’s probable that he’ll keep doing it just because it’s fun.  Two, much like a whiney two-year-old, he’s doing it to get attention.  If I respond when he’s making the sound, no matter what the response, he will have succeeded in getting my attention.

And the third problem?  The easiest way of preventing the sound in the first place is to open his door and let him come hang out on the top of his cage.  This is where he spent most of this evening.  However, the time is getting late and he has to go inside when I go to bed.

What does all of this have to do with writing?  Nothing, except to explain why my parrot is annoying me, and thus keeping me from creating something really interesting for my post this evening.



Heavy head
half-mast lids
limbs that resist movement

Slow thoughts
quiet mind
emotions lost in a sinkhole of apathy

Exhaustion sneaks up
Kept away by action
Let in by comfort

I don’t want to get up from my chair
even just to go to bed


Description Game

I love the movie Alex & Emma.  Watching an author (however fictional) dictate his story to a stenographer who comments and critiques the whole time is highly entertaining.  I find that it holds some helpful little tidbits of advice for authors, as well.

For example, take one of my favorite comments from Emma (Alex’s response is in parentheses):

I hate it when they do that.  (Who? What?)  You.  Authors.  You use a name like John Shaw and I picture in my mind thin, with a stylish mustache, and then when you finally get around to describing him he’s this fat old fart with a hole in his teeth.

Needless to say, she convinces Alex to change the description of Shaw.  I keep this in mind when I’m introducing a new character or describing a scene, because it’s true.  If you wait too long to give a description, a reader may have already created one based on their own imagination.  When they get to your description, it might irritate them, or clash with their image.  And while it is sometimes worth it to wait to describe someone, and in some cases it’s helpful to encourage the reader to think the wrong thing, I also like to be kind to my readers when I can.

In the spirit of this, I want to play a little game.  I am going to describe some people enjoying food.  At the end I’m going to ask you a question about each food. Are you ready? Here we go.

1. She lifted the plump, glistening berry to her lips.  As she bit into it, sweet juices flooded her mouth.  She grinned and reached for another.

2. The liquid was refreshing as it rushed down his throat.  He took another mouthful and let the cold sweetness linger before he swallowed.  With a sigh of contentment he carefully set down his glass on a coaster.

3. As the steam rose, she inhaled and enjoyed the scent of the soup in front of her.  She dipped her spoon into the bowl and let the savory warmth pour across her tastebuds.  Reaching for a piece of bread, she held it into the soup and let it soak.

4. He grinned as he licked the sweet, creamy icing off of his fingers.  With one finger still coated, he dabbed the bottom of the cupcake paper to collect the last few crumbs.  One cupcake gone, he paused and then reached for a second.

Ready for your questions?  They are basically the same.

What kind of berry did she eat?  What is he drinking?  What type of soup is in the bowl?  What flavor was the cupcake, and what color was the icing?

We’ll see if everyone (or anyone!) has the same answer as what I was imagining when I wrote them.  🙂

Steam and Heat

The fabric slid over the end of the board with only the slightest catch.  She gave the seam a quick tug to align it with the edge.

With the pants in place, she reached across the board and grabbed the handle of the iron.  The hot metal slid across the cotton, steam rising with a hiss.  She smoothed the wrinkles of the fabric with the deft economy of motion that comes from long practice.  The section was finished with the iron set on the pocket flap and another burst of steam.

Satisfied with it, she stood the iron on its end at the other side to the board to shift the pants around.  The process was repeated for another section, and another, until the top of the khakis were perfectly pressed.

Moving to the other end of the ironing board, she lined up the edges of the legs and swiftly pressed the wrinkles from their length.  Without pockets, buttons, and zippers, the legs were easy and she finished them quickly.

The pants were now neatly ironed.  She folded them carefully, making sure not to add wrinkles before setting them aside and moving on to the next pair.


Seven Sentence Story

His heart began to race when the doorbell rang; he wasn’t ready for this.

“I’m coming!” he shouted through his toothpaste, hoping it would buy him a moment or two more.  With a quick rinse and spit, he tapped the toothbrush on the edge of the sink and dropped it into the holder.   A crumpled paper towel nearby was perfect for the swift wipe of the sink to complete the bathroom.  He ducked into the bedroom to grab his shirt and pull it on over his head.  Rushing to the door, he passed the table in the kitchen, where he paused briefly to straighten the messy pile of receipts and paid bills into something that at least appeared tidy.

With a last breath to steady himself, he walked over and opened the door.



Lift, stretch, point

Ball of the foot connects with the floor

Knee bend, push,


A tug, slight pain, as skin briefly sticks to floor, before momentum moves on.

For a moment, suspended, body out of my control

Land, knee bend, arms stretch,



She looked in the mirror and was shocked at the reflection that looked back.  Her long, highlighted hair was pulled back into a tight ponytail, revealing ears empty of jewelry.   Her face was scrubbed of its usual makeup.  While the sweater and jeans she wore couldn’t completely conceal her figure, they were a far cry from the flirty skirt and low-cut top she would typically wear.  Her feet felt odd in flats, and losing three inches was enough to shift the familiar background of her room.

Eyes wide, she glanced over at her roommate.  The bookish girl looked amazing; styling had done wonders for her hair, and the borrowed clothes flaunted the shape she usually hid.  The two young women grinned at each other, entertained by their transformations.

“This should be fun.”


The first sensation is heat.  As I step in, my feet and ankles warn me of it.  I lower my body and inhale sharply as the rest of my skin reacts to the temperature.  In mere moments the sensation fades.  The water cradles my body, warming my muscles and coaxing the tension to disperse.  I take a breath slowly, reveling in the purple perfume of steam laced with lavender and lilac.  Sliding deeper, the water coming up to my chin, I lean my head back and close my eyes.  The quiet harmony of strings carries my thoughts away, and the final knots of stress release.

After a restful interlude, my mind drifts back to the earth, mundane thoughts of work and life intruding on my moment.  I sit up and refresh myself with a drink of cool water.  Careful to dry my hands, I reach for a well-worn paperback.   I let the familiar tale banish my everyday, absorbing my mind in the world and lives of the characters I love.

When the water turns tepid and my toes are raisins, I finally set the book aside.  I rise from the bath relaxed and renewed, and wrap myself in an oversized towel.  I snuggle into it, taking a final moment to enjoy luxury before I return to my routines.

Ten Sentence Story

She took the stairs two at a time, slowing as she neared her floor.  It was odd, she thought, how habits carry us through even when the world has changed.  She hesitated at her apartment door, absent-mindedly running her thumb over the key in her hand.  Finally she acknowledged that she couldn’t stand in the hall forever.

With a sigh and a mental shake, she entered her home.  At first glance, everything looked the same.  The parrot gave her his usual disgruntled greeting, shaking his bell with excessive force.  Still, she could feel a strange emptiness hanging over everything.

She kept it at bay as she hung up her coat, set down her bag, and took off her shoes.  It wasn’t until she caught sight of the vacant dog bed out of the corner of her eye that she collapsed into sobs.


She opened the door, finally, after his third push of the doorbell.  To his surprise, she looked disheveled, as if she had just rolled out of bed.

On her feet were fuzzy, brightly colored socks.  The left leg of her pants was tucked into one, the sock pulled halfway up her calf.   The pants themselves were bright blue and loose-fitting, as pajamas should be.  The fabric looked as though it would be incredibly soft to the touch.  They were topped with a baggy old t-shirt, brown, with a faded logo and an unraveled hem.   The large shirt hung to one side, hugging her neck on the left but baring her collarbone on the right.  She blinked at him with eyes that seemed unable to open past half-mast, her face showing a hint of irritation.  Her face was framed asymmetrically by an unbrushed mane, her dark hair a tousled, wild mess.

His tone earnest and confused, he asked, “Did I wake you?”

Her eyebrows lowered and the corners of her mouth turned down in as irritation mixed with disgust.  “Jacob, it’s three in the morning.”

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