Decisions, decisions!

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Here’s the thing.
I adore Christmas. Decorating, spending time with family, baking. All of it.
But I don’t ever want to get too far from my writing. I have a fear that if I allow myself too much time away from it I’ll lose that spark. And I really like that spark.
I just took off a little over a week for a trip, and there’s a week and a half until Christmas. That’s about three weeks out of the writing routine.
I know I’ve been writing regularly long enough that I seem to be able to start it and stop it almost at will.
But what if I can’t? What if the next long stretch of time I don’t write, the well goes dry?

Wait a minute! I’m looking at this all wrong.
Writing has become so much a part of life to me that it’s more like breathing than anything else.
If I hold my breath, I have no fear that I’ll forget how to take that next breath.

I can write, or not write, during the Christmas holidays.
Because I know that when everything settles down again, I’ll be gasping to get all those pesky ideas down on paper.

Phew! Crisis averted.

Being nice

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…sometimes doesn’t pay.

I just got back from the grocery store.

As I was returning the cart I noticed that the person who had returned the cart right before me had left what looked like a gift card in the basket.

The man was still there, so I rushed over to let him know that he had left it behind.

He thanked me. More than once. And no matter how many times I hinted that the conversation was over, he kept talking.

I detest being rude, so I spent the next few minutes inching closer and closer to my car so I could make my get-away without hurting the man’s feelings.

I was only a few feet away from my car when the man decided to solidify our budding friendship by insulting President Trump.

I’m SO tired of that.  He was obviously about to say more, so I gently informed him that I support President Trump.

I had assumed I would be allowed to politely leave, but no. It was as if I had flipped a switch and become not the nice person the man had just been complimenting, but The Enemy. He wasn’t quite yelling at me as I got into my car, but he wasn’t that far off.

Nice to know we still live in a civil society.

Happy Thanksgiving

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Today is Thanksgiving. I like Thanksgiving.

Everything I’m taking to the big family get-together is ready except for the mashed potatoes. As I sat here, drinking my coffee and waiting for the potatoes to boil, I realized something.

I love being around family. They’re interesting, fun, and enjoyable. But Thanksgiving is a bit of a pain.

First there’s the perfume issue. Even though everyone in my family knows I’m extremely sensitive to fragrances, someone will ‘forget’ and wear cologne, aftershave, or perfume. Then there will be the ones that wash their clothing in scented detergent (that really does a number on me).

The result will be sapped energy and a foggy brain. Depending on the amount, I might have an asthma attack.

Or at least, that’s how it’s been every holiday get-together for the past 25 years. I remember leaving the table one year to cry in private. Several people were wearing scent that year and I couldn’t get away from it. I couldn’t breath. At all.

It’s funny, I’ve never realized it before, but most of my extended family don’t really know me. They can’t. They’ve only seen the damped down version. What I become when my body and brain have been sabotaged by a plethora of unnecessary chemicals that some people think smell yummy.

Oh. And then there’s the food. Let’s cut to the chase. I have food allergies. Lots of them. Potlucks are a nightmare for me.

Nuts = migraine
Sugar = anger and depression
Dairy = asthma and stomach ache
Gluten = stomach ache, weird skin patches, and a feeling of malaise
Garlic = huge stomach ache
Onions = huge stomach ache

I could go on, because there’s quite a bit more, but you get the picture.

Hmm. Why DO I like Thanksgiving?

Oh, yeah. I enjoy family. I’m willing to put up with a lot of discomfort for family time.

I hope you enjoy your time with your family and friends, too.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Update: Three people wore heavy fragrance. I sat by an open window throughout the meal and was okay. But after the meal everyone congregated in the living room, a smaller space, and I had trouble walking through the perfume force field that formed at the doorway.

Nice to know family cares. Right?

Sorry if that comes off as snarky, but I have this weird thing where I like to be able to breath.

Top of the stairs

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An excerpt of what I wrote today.
This script still has a long way to go, but I’m encouraged because it plays out easily in my head.

INT. STAIRS – DAY

Annie has her arms full of folded laundry as she trudges up the stairs. At the landing she pauses to get out of the way as Caleb runs past, closely followed by Noah, who’s making a noise that vaguely resembles a locomotive.

She smiles as she watches the boys, but her smile slips as an apparition of a man appears at the top of the stairs, between her and her boys. Noah and Caleb continue into Caleb’s room and shuts the DOOR with a resounding BANG.

Annie remains frozen for several seconds, unable to take her eyes off of the ghost. Other than the muted noise of the boys wrestling in Caleb’s room all is quiet.

Then the ghostly man is gone. Annie throws down the folded clothes and bolts up the stairs. She pauses for a split second when she reaches the place where the man stood, but nothing can keep her from her children and she powers through the spot.

When she reaches the closed door to Caleb’s room she pauses to regain composure.

ANNIE
(under her breath)
There’s no such thing as ghosts. I’m just tired. There are no ghosts.

Annie pastes a smile on her face and opens the door.

ANNIE
Can I play too?

She enters the room and firmly closes the door behind her.

Excerpt – Spencer 1928

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Spencer 1928 is the working title, although I’m getting closer to a real title.
Emma and her friends play a practical joke on Edwin and his friends, who are camping out.

EXT. BACKYARD – NIGHT

Other than the CRACKLE of the glowing remnants of the FIRE, all is silent at the camp. The empty cardboard box that once held the birthday cake smolders near the fire, ready to burst into flame at any moment.

Emma, Betty, and Mildred tiptoe into camp dressed in white with powder on their faces and in their hair. Emma peeks into Edwin’s tent and smiles. Betty and Mildred check the other three tents. All three girls give a thumbs up.

Emma and Mildred quietly cover each tent with a blanket-sized piece of gauzy material and Betty tacks the material to the ground.

As Betty places the last tack the CARDBOARD BOX POPS as it bursts into flames directly behind her. Startled, she squeals and twirls around.

Mildred sprints from the trees and tosses the burning box onto the campfire. She glares at Betty and puts her finger to her lips.

Betty rolls her eyes and shrugs. She grabs a bucket from behind a tent and pours half of the water in it on the smoldering FIRE, causing it to SIZZLE. She jams the half-full bucket in the fire pit.

Emma joins them. Betty mouths the word READY. Both Emma and Mildred nod. Betty grabs another bucket, this one near the trees, and empties the contents, two small, brick-like objects, into the bucket of water. Immediately after they PLOP into the WATER a fog rolls out of the bucket and spreads across the ground.

Betty grins. Emma and Mildred gleefully nod in response.

The three girls pull out more of the gauzy material, drape it over their heads, and position themselves around what was once the campfire. Mildred nods, Emma gives several hard yanks on a rope.

A cacophony of CLANGS and BANGS assault the silence. In three of the tents figures spring through the openings, only to get caught in the gauze. They struggle to rip through.

Once free they see the terrifying sight of three ghosts cavorting in a deadly mist. The three figures run, yelling from the yard.

The girls break into laughter. Emma catches sight of Edwin’s tent and stops.

MILDRED
Did you see them?

Emma stares at Edwin’s tent.

BETTY
Big, tough David yelled like a baby.

Emma rushes to Edwin’s tent and touches the gauze, which is exactly where she placed it.

MILDRED
Wonder if they’ll tell anyone this story?

EMMA
Betty. Mildred. Come here.

Emma’s serious face wipes the smiles off of the two girls’ faces. They join Emma at Edwin’s tent. She points at the gauze.

EMMA
Did he sleep through this?

Betty and Mildred shrug. Emma rips the gauze down and sticks her head inside the tent. Betty and Mildred follow suit.

EMMA
Where’s my brother?

Fall traditions

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Fall wouldn’t be fall without a trip to the corn maze with family.

After a few turns in the maze my family’s natural competitiveness came out to play and it turned into a contest. Two of my daughters  branched off and zipped through super fast.

But they had neglected to stop at all the checkpoints and answer the questions, so it was another daughter who got the most points.

Not that it really mattered, because everyone won, really. It was a gorgeous day!

After the maze we hit the pumpkin patch. Which seemed to be neverending!

Just right for pumpkin pie (I hope).

 

Time traveling pasta

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See this innocent-looking box of pasta? I bought it at the grocery store about a month ago and put it in my pantry for emergencies. Not my normal brand, but it was cheap.

I’m a label reader. Before I opened the box I automatically checked the expiration date.

I was so surprised by what I saw that I had to show it to my husband after I read it 3 times.

This box of pasta expired nearly 7 years ago. October of 2010, to be exact!

Now I know the store is VERY careful about pulling expired merchandise, which means…

TIME TRAVEL DOES EXIST!

But who, or what, is doing it?

Was the pasta sent here as a test? An experiment with an inanimate object to make sure all was safe before a human jumped through time?

Or is that box of pasta the beginning of an invasion?

If I hadn’t checked the expiration date, I would have tossed those noodles straight into a pot of boiling water.

The water would have reanimated the noodle creatures, setting them free and allowing them the flexibility they’d need to take over the world.

Bwa ha ha ha!

I can see them now. Slimy creatures that creep through each neighborhood, intent on destroying any non-wheat based creature that gets in their way.

Shiver!

We can’t let it happen.

We’ve got to band together and check those expiration dates.

It’s the only way we can stop the noodle invasion.

 

Treasure Trove (working title)

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A few months ago I had every intention of starting a new screenplay. I thought through characters, plot, themes, and even a twist or two.

Then I dropped the ball. Not only did I not start the screenplay, but I failed to write down even a sentence to remind myself of all that brain work I’d done.

When life got exciting most of what I’d worked out got shoved out of my head. POOF, gone!

So today, I began again. It isn’t much, but it is enough to get me going. I think instead of my normal outline-like-crazy method I’ll just go with the flow. Any mistakes I make I can fix in the rewrites.

Excerpt:

INT. AMUSEMENT PARK RIDE – DAY
Water ride filled with robotic characters, trunks full of fake jewels, and a constant line of rider-filled boats.

AUDREY, 20s, on a mission to have fun, grips the bar and grimaces as the boat halts beneath a huge beam that has been made to look like it will crack any second. The BEAM CRACKS, shifts downward toward the riders’ heads, the boat moves on just in time. Audrey and several other riders scream.

Audrey breathes a sigh of relief and relaxes as the boat glides gently past plastic replicas of forest creatures and trees. The boat goes around a corner and into a cave scene with trunk after trunk overflowing with rings, necklaces, and jewels of all sorts that sparkle in the spotlight.

A flash to Audrey’s right nearly blinds her. She throws up her left hand to shield her eyes. The boat jolts and drops as they go over a waterfall. Audrey panics and throws her hand sideways to grab the side. The RING with a red stone on her finger slides off, flies across the water, and CLATTERS into the treasure trunk.

Audrey screams at the drop. Water splashes everywhere. Audrey wipes the dirty water from her eyes and looks at her empty finger. More panic as she pats her surroundings for the ring.

She glares at the woman who had used a flash, but the woman ignores Audrey as the woman posts a selfie to her social media.