Sarah Brentyn – Guest Post


My life as an Introverted Writer


coffee-1848899_960_720.jpgI’m an introvert. Always have been.

I need time to recharge after major events. Hell, I need time to recharge after answering the door. (When I do. Sometimes I hide.)

I’m definitely not a people-person. It’s not that I don’t like people, just that I wish they wouldn’t come near me. Or talk to me. Or look at me.

Personal space, you know?

I’d say, instead of a social butterfly, I’m more of a social spider. Creeping away from commotion, scrunching into dark corners, hiding behind a web. (I completely just grossed myself out. I’m wicked arachnophobic and compared my people-skills to those nasty 8-legged critters. Now I’m itchy. I hope the analogy was worth it.)

When I was little, people used to be nice about my introverted nature and call me a “homebody.” Now it’s like, “Holy crap, woman. When’s the last time you left the house? You need to put your books down and GET OUT.” A bit rude but, alas, they’re not wrong.

Once upon a time, I had a friend who consistently told me how much happier I’d be if I went drinking and partying with her. I wouldn’t have been.

However, heading for a walk, strolling through a cemetery, watching the ocean…these things make me happy and I don’t indulge in them nearly enough.

So, we’ve established I’m a loner. And that’s okay. Really. It is.

But.

You knew there was a “but,” right?

Here’s where, as a writer, I get into trouble.

I can go from hermit to recluse in 60 seconds flat. I know. It’s impressive. One minute I’m an introspective introvert, the next I’m a shut-in.

Writing is a solitary pursuit. It lends itself to introversion.

I live in my head, constantly writing, narrating, and stowing away encounters for future plotlines or dialogue.

I can bounce ideas off other writers, get beta feedback, and network all I want but, in the end, it’s me and my laptop.desk-602975_960_720.jpg

Though my characters are hanging out here keeping me company, they never ask me to get a beer or tell me to go outside for some fresh air. Never suggest I leave the keyboard to see the sunset.

While I’m content with who I am and love what I do, this life can be isolating. Writing doesn’t force me to leave the comforts of home. So here I stay.

Writer. Introvert. Recluse.

With this combination, I need to be careful. It sucks. It literally sucks the life out of me and my writing. Because leaving the house not only helps your mental health but gives you fodder for stories. Both of which I need.

I have to work a little bit harder than my extroverted friends to get out of my world, into the one outside, have some adventures, and return a little richer in all the ways that matter. Like Bilbo Baggins: There and Back Again.


Author Bio:


sarahbrentyn profile picSarah Brentyn is an introvert who believes anything can be made better with soy sauce and wasabi.

She loves words and has been writing stories since she was nine years old. She talks to trees and apologizes to inanimate objects when she bumps into them.

When she’s not writing, you can find her strolling through cemeteries or searching for fairies.

She hopes to build a vacation home in Narnia someday. In the meantime, she lives with her family and a rainbow-colored, wooden cat who is secretly a Guardian.
She is the author of Hinting at Shadows, a collection of short fiction.


Hinting at Shadows_COVERContact Information (blog, website, etc.):


Amazon: Author Page

Amazon US | Amazon UK

Blogs:

Lemon Shark

Lemon Shark Reef


Twitter, Google+, Website


Guest Post by Allison Maruska


The Biggest Killer of Creativity


First, I want to thank Jenny for hosting the Sunday Scribbles Challenge and for opening up her blog space for wee scribblers like me. I hope I can do this awesome blog justice.


The Late Show With Stephen Colbert GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY


Now, let’s talk about creativity – and specifically about what kills it (for the purposes of this post, creativity refers to both the act of literally creating something and to sharing our already-created work with the outside world). As creative types, we need to know what hazards lie ahead so we can avoid them.

Unfortunately, this killer isn’t something we can avoid entirely. In fact, it’s one we likely face on a daily basis.

I’ve recently started reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. In it, she outlines qualities creative types must have in order to create, including enchantment, trust, and persistence. But the first quality she discusses is courage.

That means not being afraid, because as she says:


…when courage dies, creativity dies with it. We all know that fear is a desolate boneyard where our dreams go to desiccate in the hot sun.


She goes on to list 27 fears we face as we strive to live more creative lives, including fear of rejection, fear that we don’t have enough training, and fear that our work isn’t important enough to put out there. The easy advice would be to simply say everyone has fears so either suck it up and create anyway or go do something else.

Here’s the thing, though: Fears are real. They aren’t silly, irrational things we’re taught to ignore (for the most part). Fears keep us alive – we don’t run into traffic because of the fear of getting smashed by a MACK truck.


unnamed.jpg

Beep Beep!


But fear can also be paralyzing if we let it.

My bestselling novel was *this close* to being shoved under a mattress because of fear. After I got some bad feedback from a critique partner, I knew if I let anyone read it, one of two things would happen: 1. They would hate it and ridicule it mercilessly, or 2. No one would read it at all.

That’s right. I was afraid people would read it or not read it.

It took another, much wiser writing partner to talk me back off that ledge. I went on to self-publish the book and it sold twenty thousand copies in its first year.

And it wasn’t ridiculed mercilessly.

In her most recent flash fiction challenge post, Charli Mills says this (emphasis mine):


It’s not that fear itself is so bad. Fear is a warning — proceed with caution; be safe. Entrepreneurs and artists take calculated risks — they strategize to overcome doubt and fear to do or create something new. Fear is best acknowledged, not justified. It’s fear justified that skews thinking and actions.


Acknowledgement says, “Yes, this is a real fear that I have.” Justification says, “And because of it, I will or won’t do this.” Justification gives fear more credit and weight than it deserves.

I published my novel while carrying the fears that it would be poorly reviewed or not read. My wise writing partner even said, “Yes, those things could happen.” We acknowledged those fears and proceeded anyway. And you know what? Those things did happen! It got some bad reviews and I can’t get most of my own family to read it (among many others, I’m sure). But it also has lots of good reviews and fans anxiously waiting for the standalone sequel, which is now in revisions.

Fear is part of the creative process. Hell, it’s in every freaking step of it. If creativity is the Yin, fear is the Yang.

That doesn’t mean fear gets to kill our creativity. In fact, pressing on after acknowledging our fears makes having created and shared our work that much sweeter.


What fears do you face when creating? How do you overcome them?


0ec5e6b6a9fd960893ba80993bf75090.jpegAllison Maruska is the author of mystery, suspense, and YA novels, a humor blogger, former teacher, mom, wife, coffee and wine consumer, and owl enthusiast. Find her on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon.


Guest Post by Allan G. Smorra


WUtdFyW3_400x400I entered J.A. Allen’s Scribbles on Cocktail Napkins contest and her prompt was to tell a story in just two paragraphs based on an unsettling confession during a blind date.
Thanks to everyone who voted for my story and a special thanks to J.A. for this opportunity to be a guest host on her blog.

You can find my blog at www.ohmsweetohm.me.


The Connection


It was a Friday afternoon and I was seated on a bench on the fantail of one the Golden Gate Ferry boats that run between San Francisco and Marin County, CA. In the waning light of an November evening it felt good to have open sky above me. I sat and drank my adult beverage while tourists and commuters loaded the boat for the 45 minute ride to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal.

aThe year was 1983 and I had finished my workday at the new KGO-TV television studios on Front St.  For the last six months I had spent seven hours a day, 5 days a week, in a noisy dark basement and it was officially no longer fun. I was part of the Mole Crew, the gang of electricians who toiled all day in the dim-lit basement running power distribution conduits for the studios and offices in the building above us. We only saw the sun at lunchtime or when we were on a break.

Passengers filled the boat in a steady stream and one in particular caught my eye. He was standing at the transom of the boat and wore a hip-length brown leather jacket with large flap pockets sewn on the outside of the chest and waist, dark denim pants, and heavy brown leather hiking boots that were well oiled and buffed to a matte shine. A gray cloth military patrol cap covered his head and at his feet was a large square cloth bag with two loop handles. One end of a long baguette of bread stuck out of the top of the shopping bag and I could see the tops of several packages wrapped in white butcher’s paper.

I thought to myself, This could be a scene out of a foreign movie; Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. And now, the boy goes to any length to reunite with his One True Love. I took another sip of my beverage. Yeah, right. Like that happens in real life. At least not in front of me, so far.

The stranger reached into his bag and carefully opened packages of meat and cheese. He took out a small paring knife and began to slice them into bite-sized pieces which he ate along with pieces of the baguette. It struck me as a very European way to travel and I made a mental note to try it myself some afternoon.

The boat was now loaded and the deckhands prepared to raise the gangway and cast off the dock lines. I headed for the bar to get a refill.

The ferry was in the process of backing out of the slip as I returned to my seat. The stranger was busy taking in the sights as we turned North and pulled away from the San Francisco Ferry Terminal. The Bay Bridge grew smaller as our view of the Embarcadero waterfront slipped by at sea level on our port side. A million-dollar view for under three dollars.

The stranger was busy taking photos with a 35mm point-and-shoot film camera and making notes in a small notebook that he had removed from a side pocket of his jacket.

He’s detail oriented. I like that in a person.

The boat cleared Pier 39 and the Golden Gate Bridge came into view. I took out my 35mm Pentax SLR camera and walked over to the rail. I love taking photos of the bridge at sunset and today was promising. After snapping off a few photos I sat down in my seat and put my camera back in my bag. Our ferry was approaching Alcatraz and our view of the bridge would be blocked by the island.

I sipped my drink and the stranger took a few photos of The Rock. He looked puzzled, took out a guidebook from another jacket pocket, and began flipping through several pages. He closed the book and looked around.

He smiled when saw me looking at him, and I nodded and smiled back. He took four steps in my direction and pointed toward the Federal Penitentiary. “Excuse me, please. Ist that Ang-gel Island?” I was right, he is European.

“No, sir. That is actually Alcatraz, the old prison.” I turned to my right and pointed again. “That is Angel Island.”

He smiled, “Ahhhh, yah. Now it makes sense. Thank you very much.”

“You’re quite welcome.”pablo.png

“That’s Tiburon. Sausalito is beyond that—at the other end of the Golden Gate Bridge. We can’t see it from here.”

“Ahhhh, yah. I understand now.”

“Hey, my name’s, Al.” I reached out and we shook hands.

“I am Johannes. It ist nice to meet you, Al”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Johannes.” The seat next to me was unoccupied. “Why don’t you get your stuff and sit down here? Take a load off your feet.”

“Ahhhh, yah. Thank you, I will.”

Johannes picked up his bag and sat down on the bench. “This ist such a lovely way to ride, this boat.”

“I love it, man. On the water I can decompress from the day’s work and arrive home a new man.”

“Yah, ist good. Leave your worries at work, don’t take them home with you.”

“What brings you to the United States? Vacation? Work?”

“Vacation. I have always wanted to visit America.”

“Well, welcome to the U. S. of A.”

“Thank you. Ist a good feeling to be welcomed. Americans are very friendly.”

I smiled, “Thanks, man. It’s easy to be friendly to nice people such as yourself.”

Johannes smiled, “Would you like a snack? I have bread, cheese, salami, and ham.”

“I don’t mind if I do. Thanks.” We proceeded to enjoy slices of fresh sourdough bread, Columbus Salami, and Jarlsberg cheese.

My curiosity was getting the best of me. “If you don’t mind me asking, where are you from?”

“Germany. I live outside Munich.”

“Nice. I have never met someone from Munich before. What do you do for a living there?”

“I work at the BMW factory. I am electrician.”

“An electrician? No kidding? Man, I am an electrician!”

We both laughed and shook hands again, brother-to-brother. “What do you do at the BMW plant?”

“We take care of maintaining the entire facility and install new equipment on the Assembly lines. What do you do?”

“I work construction and right now we are building television studios and offices for a local TV station.” I laughed, “What are the odds that we would run into each other on a boat in San Francisco Bay?”

Johannes chuckled, “Yah, ist a slim chance at best.”

“Hey, I’m going to get one more. Lemme get you something. What would you like?”

“A white wine?”

“Coming right up.” I got our drinks and sat down with Johannes. We toasted each other, sat, sipped and watched the world go by. Over the course of the next half hour we talked about our lives, families, and our chosen field of work.

It turned out that my new friend was in the last week of a 4-week vacation. He got six weeks a year off and this trip to the USA would zero out his vacation account. Part of his benefits at work was access to discounted travel. He got a corporate lodging & travel rate, plus a discounted rail pass on Amtrak for travel within the US. Johannes had visited New York City, Denver and San Francisco thus far. The final leg of his journey would be to Seattle where he would visit friends and then fly back to Munich.

On this particular day he was going to visit former neighbors who were living not far from the Ferry Terminal in Greenbrae. The next morning they would take him to the East Bay where he would catch an Amtrak train to Seattle. This vacation was one of those life-adventures that he would never forget.pablo

“I have no idea.”

“People find out I am electrician and they say, ‘You have easy job. All day long you twist little wires together. You don’t have to work hard.’ It makes me crazy!”

I leaned back and let out a howl. “Yes! Yes, I agree. I hear the same thing, ‘You twist wires together all day.’ It’s maddening.”

“Who do they think runs conduits for wire? Plumbers? Who pulls the wire? Trained horses? Twisting wires together ist at end of job, not entire job.”

“Johannes, we are more alike than we ever thought.”

“Yah, ist amazing, no?”

We exchanged addresses and sent each other a copy of the best photo that we took that day. For the next several years we exchanged cards and photos at Christmas. As time went on we lost touch with each other and eventually cards went unanswered.

I think about Joannes from time to time whenever I see a BMW on the road. Out here we call them Basic Marin Wheels, although the Tesla S sedans are quietly taking over that position.

What hasn’t changed over time is The Connection, the feeling that I experienced for a brief moment of time that November afternoon. I don’t know if we connected through our shared German heritage, or our chosen field of endeavor, but the time we spent talking on the ferry felt like it was time spent with a long-lost brother. We not only bonded as tradesmen, we connected like wires that were “twisted together.”


aCongrats again, Allan, on winning the 14th Sunday Scribble Challenge. And, thanks for accepting the invitation to guest post!


 

Lovingly He Held Her Head Underwater


A Guest Blog by Juliet Nubel.kjb.png


For the last few Sunday mornings, when Jenny’s Scribble Challenge email lands in my inbox after a short flight across the Atlantic Ocean, I have opened it and laughed.

What would I possibly have to write about A Mother’s Twisted Love when my own mother unquestionably loves every square inch of my body and soul? An hour later, after getting my shoes out of the cupboard under the stairs I had the creepy idea of a child being tied up and locked away.

Phobias? I don’t have any phobias, I boasted to the cats, the only ones who actually listen to me around here. Bang on cue, a wasp flew into the kitchen through the open door and my declaration flew out the window. I don’t just have a phobia of wasps, I have a debilitating and ferocious fear.

But when I opened the third week’s Scribble email I actually snorted in disbelief. hjvA six word story with a twist? For heaven’s sake Jenny, we’re not miracle workers! But my brain doesn’t know that, so it got down to its current job of scrabbling around in the heaps of words living up there and it finally found something that I was happy with. As happy as an unknown, unconfident, part-time, baby writer can be: “Lovingly he held her head underwater.”

The fact that we were at that precise moment on holiday on the beautiful Italian island of Sicily, that there were two monstrous, sparkling swimming pools on the complex, edged by two sandy beaches, both lapped by the turquoise Mediterranean Sea, may have helped my hand a little.khb.pngSo that done and dusted, wiped around the edges (which doesn’t take long when there are only six words to wipe) I posted it and promptly forgot all about it, as we went off to play.

When we returned to our room much later that evening I found my pet iPad waiting patiently by the bed, proudly showing me a comment from Hugh’s Views and News in response to my entry.

lkn.png


“I wonder if he was doing it for goodness, rather than for evil?” he asked innocently.


And that, Hugh, is when you had me. How could I possibly not answer your question? A vague idea of why my character was doing this was swirling around when I put together the six words for the challenge. But you deserved a longer and better explanation. So my brain started its digging again. All the way back in the coach from a wonderful historical day trip, it poked around and pulled out words to string together to complete the story.

The result is below. It is for you Hugh, and for anyone else who may be interested in reading the follow-up to my one-liner. It is nothing like my usual chatty blog style but hey, I can wear a new hat if I want to.

And it is for you too, Jenny. You who, for some inexplicable reason, started following my blog one day, a couple of months ago. When I clicked on yours it was admiration at first sight. Thank you for inspiring me with your words and thank you for inciting me to write my own.


Lovingly He Held Her Head Underwater


hand-2262740_960_720His large, work-roughened hands shook hard, however, as he pushed down on her grey-tinged hair until the bubbles from her nose and mouth finally stopped rising. The flash of gold from his wedding band shining up through the ripples, reminded him of what he was actually doing – wilfully drowning his beautiful, beloved wife.

He would have preferred to see her eyes one last time instead of the back of her head, but he knew that if those clear, grey jewels had been looking up at him through the water he would never be able to go through with it. He would pull her out, gasping for breath, cover her with kisses and swear he had made the biggest mistake of his entire life.

Her eyes. They had melted his heart all those years ago and they still did. They seemed to change colour without warning, wavering between gold-flecked green and pale Caribbean blue. Sometimes when the weather was bad they turned to flint, reflecting the clouds racing overhead, the tiny gold specks changing to light silvery sparkles.
For almost a year now they had also betrayed her mood, becoming a dark, secretive hue he had never seen before. A colour he disliked and mistrusted. This sombre shade brought on by another man, surely. Someone she saw regularly who made her return home to him as flustered and perturbed as a teenage girl.

He had followed her one day when his doubts had gotten the better of him, and had watched her walking through a high, wooden door in the centre of town, using a code she must have been given for quick, easy access. The sight of her guilty step made vomit rise in his throat and hot tears run down his weathered cheeks.

And now she wanted to go. She had told him everything. Every last detail, every sordid secret she had held for months was now revealed in a bright, blinding light.

‘I will never accept!’ he had screamed at her, louder than ever before during the thousands of days they had spent together.

‘You must’, was all she replied, her pastel eyes now begging like a hungry pup.

For weeks he had tried to dissuade her. At times he used sweet, gentle cajoling. At others deep, unbridled anger. Neither worked, and slowly he realised that she really meant what she had said. She needed to go, desperate to be set free at last.

bedroom-1082262_960_720.jpgHis decision finally came one night as he lay beside her in bed, his arms wrapped around her frail body like thick chains.

‘I have always respected your wishes’, he announced. ‘You can go now.’

The depth of gratitude in her tired smile broke his heart into a thousand pointed shards, each one piercing his body and soul as he inhaled her scent deeply to memorise it for the rest of his life.

‘Thank you, my love’ she answered, her cancer-ridden voice much quieter now than before. ‘And just promise me that even if I start to struggle, you will keep pushing down as hard as you possibly can.’


Did you know?


pabloThere’s still time to participate in the FINAL Scribble Challenge of the season! Head on over to #SSC 15 to submit your response to the prompt for your chance to win a guest blog here, on Scribbles on Cocktail Napkins.


Hey, YOU!

Don’t forget to pop by DanAlatorre.com this Sunday for a whole NEW guest blog from Juliet Nubel.


Mayor Maynot


Guest Post by Ward Clever


Hi. I’m Ward Clever, a blogger type person.

According to my About Page that I just read, I’m a work of fiction come to life, a whore who can touch unicorns, a ghost manifest, a sensitive empath with a dark side, a watcher of the skies, a healer of healers, a lovable asshole, a guy who writes a nice bio.jhv

Welcome to this thing. I am a little teapot, and I put my whole self in and shake it all about. That’s what it’s all about.

I’m a struggling romance addict, lover of visual kei, and I occasionally speak in other languages. Sarcasm, metaphors, hai, yatta, ayamachi ni obore. Oyasumi,  oiche mhaith, tsai chen, bon nuit, buenas noches, and good night. I won’t explain myself, and I won’t stop ’til I get enough. But that’s all, because enough is plenty.

Here’s a little story about Mayor Maynot, called Mayor Maynot. He had an adventure, I guess, and this is it:


kjhnb


There once was a woman named David. But that was only once, so why bother talking about it? You know?truss-2355992_960_720

There once was a town called Malice. The town hated that name, and preferred to be called Sharon. And the town down the road was called Bob, which it liked, so it was cool with being called Bob. Well, it wasn’t long, like 15 minutes, before a town sprung up between them called Alike. This town wasn’t anthropomorphic, so it wasn’t sapient enough to give a shit what it was called. I think it would have enjoyed being called Alike, though.

Alike had a mayor. The mayor was Mayor Maynot. He spoke sort of like a pirate. Once people from Sharon came into the office and asked him “Who is in charge of this town?”

He said “I, Mayor Maynot, be in charge of this town.”

“Well are you, or are you not, in charge of this town?”

“Aye, I, Mayor Maynot, be in charge of this town Alike.”

“You can’t just be in charge because you like it.”

“Alike, it, this town, that I, Mayor Maynot, be in charge of.”

“Well, whether you like it is irrelevant. All we want to know is who is in charge of it.”

“Alike, the town?”martin-luther-617287_960_720.jpg

“I think so. You just said you did. Who is in charge of the town Alike.”

“I don’t be knowin’ what town you like, but Alike, this town, aye, I, Mayor Maynot, be in charge.”

“So if… but you said… I didn’t tell… aw, fuck it. We’re claiming this town in the name of Sharon!”

“Who be Shar-”

Just then, or maybe a few minutes later, actually, because Mayor Maynot paused to get a drink of something that Mayor Maynot be callin’ grog, there were some people from Bob who barged in the door. This was quite difficult, because the nearest water that could float a barge was 47 miles away, and that was just in a parade that celebrated the Loudest Cupcake Firecracker Rhubarb Turnover. But somehow, they managed.

“What is the meaning of this?”

“Well, it is a specific pronoun denoting something close to the speaker, as opposed to ‘that’, which would denote something a bit less clo-”

“No, I mean, or we mean, depending on how many people from Bob there are in this part of the story, this, denoting the fuck that is going on here.”

“OH, that. Well, we are from Sharon, and we have claimed Alike for our own. So, good day, and have a nice life.”

“Not so fast!”

“Fine. Oh…that. Well… we… are… from… Sharon-“rovinj-2254575_960_720.jpg

“No, your speaking speed was fine. I mean, your actions are premature. Who is in charge of this town?”

“I, Mayor Maynot, be in charge of this town, Alike.”

“It’s good that you like the town, but you should be a bit more definitive on who is in charge.”

“Alike, I said, I, aye, Mayor Maynot, be in charge of.”

“Crap. Has he been saying this all day?”

“Yeah, I can’t get anything else out of him. Anyway, we the people of Sharon claim this town. We’re annexing it. That means joining it with ours.”

“I thought ‘annex’ was that thing that holds up your head.”

“Nope, definitely the taking over thing. It’s ours. It belongs to Sharon.”

Just then, Mayor Maynot realized that there was a barge, and being a pirate, he got a bit of the sea in his shorts.

“I be givin you the town Alike on two conditions.”

“Okay, what are they” both sides asked him without a question mark. Wow, that is a fucking good trick!

“One, Bob, ye be giving me that barge, so that I may once again set sail or whatever ye set with a barge, what, a pole?”

“Yes, something like that” said the person or people from Bob. “But what’s in it for us?”
“Me second condition be fer ye.”

“What’s your second condition?” asked the people from Sharon.

“Sharon, share Alike.”


hjio


If you like that, then visit my blog for depressing poetry. And a few more things like that, of course.

WardClever.wordpress.com

And maybe buy a friend’s book? Not to be all promotional. Here’s that:

Edward Hotspur – Scenes From A Hundred Morning Drives


DID YOU KNOW:


aWard won the opportunity to guest blog on Scribbles on Cocktail Napkins by winning one of our Weekly Scribble Challenges. YOU can win the chance to guest post here too! Just click #SSC on the toolbar above to check out the final prompt for this season. Participation is quick and easy, and a great way to procrastinate interact with your writing peers. 

Flash fiction challenges fuel creativity. They’re a relatively painless pool for writers who’ve never posted their work to wet those feet, OR for established authors/bloggers to pick up a few new readers.


So, what are YOU waiting for? This week’s challenge wraps up Saturday. Unleash your writerly self.


 

It’s Not Over Till It’s Over


Guest Post by Allie Potts


aac_1571_color_cropped_forw


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.


No, I am not referring to a tale of two cities. I am referring to the last days of the school year. The time of year when it takes more than my usual powers of persuasion to convince my children it is bedtime on a school night when we all know full well that lessons are wrapping up and the sun still shines outside. But wrapping up does not mean over and it would seem my son’s teacher was not yet done with him. quotescover-JPG-95

The written word is a lovely form of communication under normal circumstances, but I don’t believe I can accurately describe exactly how hard I am laughing now at what would later be classified as ‘fun.’

The school would host an economic fair. Each student was then tasked with creating a product, setting a pricing strategy, and creating a marketing campaign including a sales poster. The only limitation was the products couldn’t just be bought and resold. They had to be painstakingly crafted. Okay, so the assignment didn’t specially say painstakingly, but this wasn’t my first school project – there would be pain.


2 weeks before due date


Kiddo, my eldest son, pondered and pondered what his product might be. “Bookmarks!” he declared.

Ah, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. “Okay, let’s make a prototype,” I offered. We flipped through a book of origami designs (a hobby of mine). “How about this one?” I asked, pointing at a fairly basic braid-looking design. Kiddo got to work while I tried making one too.

Kiddo looked at his. Kiddo looked at mine. “Mine doesn’t look like yours.”

“That’s okay. That’s why we practice.” I picked up my bookmark. Though my fold lines were crisp and clean, the paper braid was already coming undone. There was no way the kids in his school were going to buy either sample. “Or we pick something else to try.”

Kiddo nodded, but promptly ran off and forgot all about it.


1.5 weeks before due date


1weekI’d finished tucking in LT, my younger not-quite-school-aged son, and was coming to check in on Kiddo. Normally he reads to me before bed, but this time, rather than being in bed as I expected, I found him on seated by his father on the floor, engrossed in a library book on robotics. It was the picture of cuteness. What can I say? The geek flag flies high at our home.

Later, Kiddo announced that he’d figured out his product. He’d build scrubber bots. Even better, his dad would help. I shared a look with my husband who grinned and agreed. All they needed was some toothbrushes, some vibrator motors from old cell phones (it’s the part that shakes your phone when it is on mute), and a battery. It would be easy. Whatever you say…


1 week before due date


I came home to find an excited Kiddo and a functioning scrubber bot. Consider me shocked. I guess it was easy after all. “You are going to sell out of these.” I looked at my husband, who was as proud of himself as he was Kiddo. I guess they wouldn’t need me after all. “I hope you have enough parts,” was all I could say.

And parts they had. Our dentist office donated toothbrushes. Our friends and family donated old phones. Soon my dining room table was covered in bits of scrap paper, wires, and electrical tools. The Potts guys had taken the assignment and run with it. No mom required. A first. Not wanting to stand in their way, I went out and purchased poster supplies.


48 hours before due date


The glue on the poster proclaiming the availability of the next must have toy of the century had long dried when the tone in the dining room shifted. A series of unfortunate events during assembly had rendered more than half the components non-functional. We learned the hard way that while there are half a dozen arts and craft stores within a five-mile radius, there are very few places to purchase electrical components except online. It’s almost as if there isn’t a market anymore for tinkers and hobbyists.


14 hours before due date


IMG_2406Kiddo greeted me at the door. “We’ve decided we need to come up with something else.”

And like that, we were suddenly on MOMCON-2.

Navigating my way through the debris that was once my dining room table, I found the hubby scrolling through Pinterest. Stand aside soldier, I thought. We’ve long since passed the point of Pinterest. Jumping to my barked orders, the poster board was cleared as Kiddo changed his branding and slashed his pricing strategy. Googly eyes, plastic cups, and bits of wire shaped by Kiddo’s hands, becoming Helper Holder Bots (for those times you need to keep your toothbrush out of the sink).

Would this be a thing of engineering wonder? Absolutely not! But failure was not an option. Not today. Not on my watch. Kiddo would have a product and it would be ready for the fair on time, and he’d learned more than a lesson or two beyond basic economics.


Such as:


  1. Homework doesn’t stop until the last bell rings.helperholder
  2. Just because you were successful once, doesn’t mean it is guaranteed again.
  3. Always plan for things to go wrong – they often will.
  4. Don’t make promises (or glue down your poster), until you know for sure what you will be able to offer.

 And last, but far from the least, never, but never, forget to appreciate your mother (or father). They’re doing the best they can.


About Allie Potts


When you are just over five foot tall you learn quickly how to appreciate the little things in life.

A self-professed geek and author of An Uncertain Faith, a women’s fiction novel, and The Fair & Foul a speculative fiction novel, Allie Potts also writes at www.alliepottswrites.com on topics such as the joys and challenges of being a working mom and growing as authorpreneur and the occasional bit of fiction, tip, or non-review review, but mostly about life lessons gleaned from everyday experiences.


You can also follow her at:

Books are available at www.amazon.com


DID YOU KNOW:


aAllie won the opportunity to guest blog on Scribbles on Cocktail Napkins by winning one of our Weekly Scribble Challenges. YOU can win the chance to guest post here too! Just click #SSC on the toolbar above to check out the prompt for this week’s challenge. Participation is quick and easy, and a great way to procrastinate interact with your writing peers. 

Flash fiction challenges fuel creativity. They’re a relatively painless pool for writers who’ve never posted their work to wet those feet, OR for established authors/bloggers to pick up a few new readers.


So, what are YOU waiting for? This week’s challenge wraps up Saturday. Unleash your writerly self.


Guest Post by John Clifford


Finding a Voice

By John Clifford

johnc


This post is a departure from my norm. My wife and I have a parenting blog, in which we write about all of the ups and downs or parenting from both the mother’s and father’s perspectives. However, left to my own devices I would not write exclusively about parenting. I love my child, and my wife; they are the lungs and the soul that breathe purpose into my life- an unshakeable, unquestionable purpose. This post, though, is about everything that came before. Before purpose, before happiness, before peace.

I don’t mean to bore you, or begin this post in a pathetic voice. I am not lamenting anything, nor am I subtly imploring you for some sympathy and pity. I am just stating circumstances as they were, factual and without any shred of emotion (unless irreverence is an emotion). I’m just setting the stage, so to speak.

And so we begin about 27 years ago, give or take…

All of my happiest childhood memories were made when I was alone. To maintain my solitude I would ride my bicycle, faster than my little tag-along brother could possibly pedal, for hours on end. quotescover-JPG-11.jpg This was back in the day when child sex predators were not a staple of sensationalist news and fodder for hushed dinner conversations. They simply were not on our radar, and we were all the freer because of it. I would ride miles away from my house, equally through wild wooded lots, as well as across the paved streets and sidewalks of our little metro-DC shitsplat city. I had no destination in those days, and in some ways I wouldn’t know what it meant to have a destination until I was in my mid-twenties. But I was maybe seven at the time, give or take, and free as a bird.

In this regard, I grew to love my solitude. I was a withdrawn child, practically a mute. I was asked in equal measure “are you okay?” and “what are you thinking about?” People often remarked that I looked lost in deep thought. That was okay for a child, almost commendable. Adults were undoubtedly projecting promise onto me, hoping to have met a child that might someday achieve all that they had abandoned.quotescover-jpg-85 There’s just no way to be sure after so much time has passed. Nowadays, when I go blankly to someplace else in my head it draws criticism and judgement. Adults should be raising the next generation of thinkers, not ambling through adulthood pensively hoping to still become something. But that is neither here nor there.

I grew further withdrawn after my parents split. We were never well-off to begin with, but we fell hard and fast into poverty in short order. We spent some years in a cycle of evictions, about every three to six months we were forced to move, that were followed by one more sympathetic landlord who couldn’t bear to turn away a mother and her five children. My mother was great at plucking the heartstrings of suckers. She had no way to pay rent, but that didn’t stop the cycle, not for a while.

And then, one day, the cycle did stop. My mother ran out of suckers, and we got turned out with no home. We were homeless for a little while, staying in hotels until they got wise to the lack of money, and then staying in the basements of family friends. I will not drill down deeply into the details, since that is not at all what this post is about. It isn’t about how hard my childhood was, or how I managed to make a woeful few meaningful friendships in any of the five high schools I would end up attending; I’m still learning proper social skills, even now into in my thirties. This post is about how I was turned inside-out, or rather back outside-out, after years of turning inward and seeking refuge and escape in the limitless expanses of my mind.

It was, and is, a slow transition. To write that it was just a matter of “letting others in” is a gross oversimplification. I never had issues letting others in. Rather, I just had issues with sharing the words which reverberated between my ears. Hence, the mute.



quotescover-jpg-71I had no audience, and fittingly I let my words dissolve and fade. I had to get them out of my head, so I wrote as a way to quiet the noise. But once they were out, exposed and open, I relegated them to the trash can, or shredder, or to moldy notebooks. I had no audience, and didn’t care.

I have forgotten far more than I have ever saved.

This trend began its metamorphosis, practically overnight, during my time in Colorado. I initially moved to Colorado from Virginia when I was 21, chasing a business opportunity presented to me by my brother-in-law. He had a kiosk selling knock-off Nokia cell phone covers to tweens in a mall in Denver. His kiosk flopped in short order, and he and my sister moved back east to pursue newer knock-off sales opportunities while I stayed in Colorado.

quotescover-jpg-62I wasted a year or so in this manner, but for one thing- I found an audience, and I found writing for my audience very rewarding.

I have no clue what it was that I wrote, but I suppose that is irrelevant. At my bar, or the bar to which I referred as mine, I spent a great deal of time. It was my preferred watering hole, where I went to accomplish the second and third steps of my routine. Over time, and through over-tipping, I grew pretty close to the bartenders there.

One night, I left behind, quite apropos for this guest blog, some scribbles on a cocktail napkin. I left it there on the bar, assuming that it would get swept up by a bar rag or tossed in the trash. Instead, the bartender, Krissy, read and kept my scribbles. And then she asked me every subsequent night to write her something more. I did so in exchange for vodka and gin.

And that’s it. Just like that I found an audience. Just like that, I found some level of comfort in turning back outside-out. There was nothing profound about that moment, nothing out of the ordinary, it was nothing more than an accident. The atmosphere inside the bar that night was unremarkable. It was likely as empty as any other weeknight (I was often the sole denizen of the bar), and undoubtedly smelled of mildew, bar-funk, and loneliness. But not everything life-changing needs to arrive grandiosely in a flash of brilliance. quotescover-jpg-77

And from then I decided to write more often, to keep what I write, and to share it with whomever might respond to the content.  I hope one or two of you experience some kind of reaction, anything that upsets the inflectionless equilibrium state of a soul at rest, and feel something in the words you read.


You can find me at bothsidesofthebed.com, where my wife and I blog about haphazard parenting from two perspectives, and at jaclifford.com. The latter is barren at the moment, but I fully intend to contribute more writing in the future. Sending vodka and gin may help to speed up the process:)john


untitled.bmpThanks, John!

For those of you don’t know, this guest post is long overdue.

John won the right to blog on Scribbles on Cocktail Napkins by winning one of my favorite Sunday Scribble Challenges . . . first posted all the way back in MAY!!

If you can’t remember that far back, take a second look at the prompt and his response:


quotescover-JPG-16


The summer had been particularly harsh this year; an immeasurably minute amount of rain had fallen, the tall grass had long ago turned brittle and sun-bleached, and the hot dry earth was scorched and broken along an infinite number of cracks and crevices. He ambled closer still to the last watering hole for miles, slowly, taking his time to conserve what little energy he had left in his tired muscles, and what little resolve he had left in his hunger-maddened head. The lion drew nearer still, and was met with a scent carried aloft on a fiery breeze: the nauseatingly metallic smell of sweat, cotton, and fear quickened his nerves and pulled taught his muscles, and he knew in that instant that he was one last pounce away from either death or survival in this harsh, unforgiving prairie.

–John Clifford


untitled.bmpAh-may-zing.

Please take a moment to congratulate John for a great submission AND an inspiring guest post in the comment section below.

He certainly deserves it!