Weekly Writing Challenge #24

Prompt – Start a story with a quote from a song.

Dust in the wind is a fact of life in southeast New Mexico on the high plains of the Llano Estacado. That’s Spanish for Staked Plains. The early conquistadores saw the many yucca plants with a single stalk sticking up four or five feet and said it looked like a bunch of stakes.

During the windy period of March and April, the wind blows from sunrise to sunset. A stiff breeze is about thirty miles per hour. 50, 60 and sometimes 70 mile per hour wind is common. Being a dry arid country, this naturally picks up a lot of dust. Since the wind blows predominantly from the west, the saying was that during this time, Arizona blows and Texas sucks.

In the 1970’s and early part of 1980’s it wasn’t uncommon to have a sandstorm. The wind would strip off a layer of dirt and sand and it would form a wall of sand. If you were on the highway, the prudent thing would be to stop on the side of the road when you saw one coming. If for some reason you wanted to drive through the sandstorm, this was a recipe for disaster. The sand would be so heavy that visibility drops to zero. It’s like turning out the lights. The increased velocity of the sand due to your car driving through the storm is enough to strip paint from your car down to bare metal.

I used to ride a motorcycle quite a bit. One time I looked up and saw a wall of sand 100 feet tall moving toward me. I quickly slowed and steered my motorcycle into the bar ditch beside the road. Putting the bulk of the motorcycle between me and the approaching storm, I curled up like a turtle and covered the best I could. A long ten minutes later, the sandstorm passed and I shook off the accumulated sand from me and my motorcycle. With a prayer on my lips, I kickstarted the engine a few times until I heard the distinctive sound of my motorcycle roaring. With a gritty smile, I was back on the road heading to town.

Farmers around that area started changing how they managed their crops and by planting winter crops, cut down on the sandstorms tremendously. Now it is exceedingly rare to have a sandstorm. The weather in that part of the country is very interesting. It is considered the start of tornado alley. When I was in Junior High School, one day we were outside practicing for a track & field event. A cry went out and we looked to the north to see five tornado funnels across the horizon. The coach watched for a few minutes and saw they were moving away from us. He then yelled for us to get back to practicing.

Living in Florida, I don’t miss the constant dust in the wind. Mrs. D is happy she doesn’t have to dust every single day.

Want to be part of the Weekly Writing Challenge? Using the prompt above, write your story and publish it with a link to this story. Make sure you tag it either md-wwc or #md-wwc

Author’s note: When I first picked this prompt, I thought it would be easy. Then I realized there are thousands of songs and thousands of lyrics to choose from. My first couple of tries, I wound up telling the story of the song. That didn’t appeal to me. Then I went looking for esoteric lyrics and started a couple of stories that just petered out rather quickly. Finally, I went back to the Rock Classics I grew up with. As soon as I saw this song, I knew what to write.

Weekly Progress Report #37

It’s been an up and down type of week. Between the doctor visits and doing serious revising and editing for the first time, I’m not sure if my progress was good or not. After this last year with all the appointments I’ve had, I think I’m developing anxiety right before I see a doctor. Inner thoughts run through my head the night before projecting every worst case scenario I can imagine. Considering I’m a writer that comes up with stories, I can think of a considerable amount of bad outcomes. And waiting on test results? Don’t get me started.

Of course, this means my regular writing suffers. Astute readers will have noticed I didn’t post the Weekly Writing Challenge yesterday. The prompt at first glance seemed to be an easy one, but I’ve been having a difficult time with it. I’ve started four different stories and abandoned each of them after only one paragraph. I’ll keep trying today. At the very least, I’ll post a series of one paragraph stories based on the prompt if I can’t find something to settle on. Then again, they are all dreck, so that may not be a good idea. The Bowl of Doom may have finally got the best of me this week. We’ll see.

Till next week, time and tide wait for no man.

Weekly Writing Challenge #23 – The Window

Prompt – Outside the window, you see something you can’t believe.

Finally a chance to sit back and relax with a hot cup of coffee. It had been a hectic day at work full of stress. Somehow I muddled through all the requests, demands and outright weirdness that encompasses my work day.

Sitting back on my favorite recliner I faced the fake fireplace with my flat screen TV over it. I picked up the remote and turned on the flames that soothed the savage beast inside me. Out of the corner of my eye, I see movement outside my window. I turn to look and see nothing amiss. Perhaps, as my wife would put it, I saw the ghost of someone I know. You can only see them out of the corner of your eye supposedly. I usually just smile and nod whenever she talks about ghosts. I don’t believe for one second there are ghosts.

Sipping my coffee, I flick my shoes off and lean back in the recliner putting the foot rest up. Again, I see something out of the corner of my eye. Maybe I should go get my eyes checked? I’ll have to put that down on my mental checklist. I turn slowly toward the window and I have to blink my eyes twice. I can’t believe what I see. A man dressed as a Samurai is standing on the street looking right at me. It’s too early for Halloween.

I put the foot rest down and lean forward in my chair getting ready to stand and the Samurai disappears. Confused I pause where I’m at. Could this be an optical illusion? Or am I going crazy? I slowly lean back keeping my eyes on the window. The Samurai doesn’t reappear and I sigh. Maybe I’m having a brain aneurism and it’s causing me to hallucinate. I start to call for my wife, but take another look at the window.

There! Not a Samurai, but a monkey dressed as an Indian riding what looks like an armadillo. Now I know I’m going crazy as it becomes a veritable parade of the weird and crazy. Pink spotted Giraffes with the face of my mother-in-law. A dancing coffee cup being chased by tiny army men. Not to mention the up side down naked lady riding a lawn mower.

Instead of being alarmed, I start to enjoy kooky parade. For some reason it calms me the more outlandish it gets. I look around the neighborhood, but no one else is around or looking through their windows. Then the parade ends with a black mist that seems to be growing and coming straight toward my window.

I cry out in horror! I try to get up out of my chair, but I’m frozen in place. My legs are kicking and my arms are flailing about to no end. The black mist reaches the window and then oozes through a tiny crack in the corner. I knew I should have fixed that. The black mist grows and seems to be getting solid. I’m frozen in fright.

As the apparition closes on me and everything goes dark, I scream!

My wife turns on the light and grabs my shoulder shaking me. I’m in my bed sitting up.

“Honey”, my wife gently says, “are you having another nightmare?”

Whew, what a relief! It was just a nightmare. Granted the strangest one I have ever had. I close my eyes in relief and start to lay back down in my bed.

A bright light flashes in my eyes. I hear voices indistinctly. The light goes away and I am back in darkness but I can hear the voices becoming clearer.

A man’s voice says, “I’m sorry, but your husband has no brain activity at all. The machines are the only thing keeping him alive. When you are ready, nod and we will shut everything down.”

I scream “NOOOOOOO!”

Want to be part of the Weekly Writing Challenge? Using the prompt above, write your story and publish it with a link to this story. Make sure you tag it either md-wwc or #md-wwc

Weekly Progress Report #36

Had good progress the first part of the week, then my PC died. Got a new one and am hoping to get back on track this week. I had bought my old PC about 10 years ago. Did a few upgrades over the years. The new PC cost me way less than my old PC and runs much faster. Go figure. Got the main part of tweaking the new PC done. I’ll be doing minor tweaking as I go.

Sent Part 1 of my book to a couple of Alpha readers and got great feedback. Started a revision list of things I need to do for Part 1. I should be able to get Part 2 first draft done this week.

I missed my Weekly Writing Challenge yesterday, but I’ll make it up this evening. Just didn’t have enough time to write it due to PC issues.

In health news, I got my annual physical Friday. My PSA is still very low, which is a good thing. My testosterone is slowly rising. It’s now at 20. Normal is about 200. I can confidently say that I’m cancer free. I’ll be updating and doing editing and revision of my memoir. I hope to have it ready for publication by September.

My blood sugar percentage is still slowly going down. Unfortunately, my bad cholesterol has risen. Making some dietary changes yet again.

Due to a rash on my right underarm I got during my cancer treatments, it’s tightened up my arm and shoulder muscles. I’ll be getting an x-ray this week to make sure that’s what it is and not some other issue. Then I’ll be doing physical therapy.

I’ve started Wellbutrin again. Last time I was on it, I managed to quit smoking. I was on it for 3 months. A few weeks after going off of it, I started smoking again. Doctor agreed I need to be on Wellbutrin for at least a year so I can permanently quit smoking.

Till next week, time and tide wait for no man.

Back in Business

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com

Ordered a new PC on Thursday from Amazon. Naturally they want me to try Prime to get it here by Saturday. I declined due to an Amazon Distributing Center is less than 6 miles from my house.

Got the PC this afternoon instead of next Tuesday. I slipped in the old hard drive from my kaput PC and was able to access everything. So I didn’t lose any of my writing that I did since my last backup! Hooray!!!!

It’s going to take me most of the rest of the evening to set it up the way I like it. Also, I have to figure out this Windows 11 system. I haven’t forgotten my Weekly Writing Challenge. I’ll have that posted tomorrow night.

Of course I can’t find my key for Microsoft Office. So it looks like I’ll be migrating to OfficeLibre. We use it at work, so it isn’t that big of a learning curve.


Got home today and sat down to do some writing at my desktop PC. It was frozen yet again. Turned it off and back on several times to no avail. It won’t boot up.

I’ve been doing backups on an external hard drive. Not sure when the last backup was done.

I’m going to leave the PC off for a while and hopefully it will boot backup. Meanwhile I’m slowly typing this on my iPad. This is painfully slow. Arrgh!!!!

Update: PC is down hard. Ordered a new one that should be here next Tuesday. I might be able to steal some time on Mrs. D’s PC to write.

Fair Warning

Photo by Aviz on Pexels.com

On a whim, I sent a query letter to a publisher. Of course I didn’t research what should be in a query letter or even the proper format of the letter. Instead I shot from the hip and did a brief summary of my work in progress “The Altered”.

Naturally I received a rejection letter. However, they did express that they want to see the completed manuscript. Now I have a huge motivation to actually finish the book.

Posting here will be sparse, but on occasion, I’ll take a break and write about something that strikes my fancy. I’ll continue the Weekly Writing Challenge that is posted every Saturday. I may or may not do a Six Sentence Story.

I plan to finish the first draft by the end of the month if not sooner.

Weekly Progress Report #35

So-so week in writing. I didn’t get much progress done on my book. I did edit Chapter 4. My routine that I rely on was disrupted by a holiday. That tends to throw me off quite a bit not only in writing but also at work.

I did end the week on a positive as I returned to my roots of writing dark fiction in the Weekly Writing Challenge. I think it is one of my best works to date. I had pulled the prompt late on Friday. Usually I pull the prompt on Thursday to give me a couple of days to figure out how I’m going to use it for the story. Friday night, I slept horribly. I kept waking up through the night and then going right back to sleep.

It is rare for me to remember my dreams, but I still vividly remember the dreams I had on Friday night. Possible story lines for the prompt kept going through my head. Every one was discarded for various reasons. Some were tired tropes. Some fizzled out. Others made no sense.

As I sat down on Saturday evening to write the story, my mind was blank. Then I remembered when I was growing up one of my chores was milking the family cow. The winter months when it had snowed were a special time of peace. From there the story unfolded almost magically from my fingertips.

This Friday, I’m going to see my primary physician for my annual physical. He is also going to draw blood to test my PSA and testosterone level. I’m anxiously awaiting the results. Hopefully they are good levels. If so, then I can finish the final coda to my memoir. After that, I plan on being consumed with editing and revision.

The plan is to publish it on Kindle by September. Which means I’m going to also have to learn how to do book blurbs, formatting and coming up with a book cover.

Till next week, time and tide wait for no man.

Ye Olde Six Sentence Story Book Shoppe

I’m amazed, grateful and humbled that I am included as one of the SSS Writers. If you look carefully, I’m on the back row second from the right.

I’ve only been writing six sentence stories for almost four months. Hard to believe it’s been that long. I’ve skipped a few here and there, but for the most part I’ve challenged myself to come up with a story each week.

At first, it was incredibly hard to do a story in only six sentences. As time went on and I practiced, it became easier. Then after reading some other Sixers, I decided to try my hand at doing a series. That upped the difficulty level but became easier as I wrote.

Lastly, I’ve taken on the challenge of inserting my character Harry Gruen into the Six Sentence Café & Bistro. Yes, a lot of chutzpah to join into an ongoing story that no less than six long time writers have been developing for a long time.

I fully expected to be piled with disdain, scorn and derision, but was welcome with open arms. This was a pleasant surprise. Now to be included into this hallow pantheon of writers is fantastic, though I somehow feel that maybe I was included just to round out the picture.

Regardless, I’m having a lot of fun doing these challenges. I highly encourage writers to give this a try. It has been a journey that I will not soon forget. If I can figure out how to get the image on my sidebar I will. For now, just click the picture above and it will take you to the creator of Book Shoppe and an amusing story of how she got the writers together for the picture.

Life Happens Ramble

A Berg’s Eye View meme

As I go through this journey called life, hardly anytime do I find it interesting. It’s just happening. Only in hindsight which is 20/20, do I find the humor or lesson in what I went through.

When asked if anything ever happened to me that is interesting, my mind goes blank. Then I let out a vignette or two and people are amazed. They all say I’ve had a very interesting life. I think they are either lying to me or they have exceedingly dull lives to think that mine is interesting.

I think that is a normal way of thinking for anyone who has lead an exciting life that they did not purposefully seek out. Yes, there are the ones that thrive on doing exotic, daring adventures. I’m not talking about those type of people. The ones who live larger than life. No this is for those of us that just let life happen.

When I was in fifth grade, I had a wonderful teacher named Mrs. Faye Capps. She recognized that I was way ahead of the class in learning. She set me up for advance learning to keep me interested in school. I was reading adult level books by this time. My parents were concerned that she might be spending more time on me and less on the normal and so-called slow kids. They came to the class several times and observed that she spent just as much time with the slow kids as with me. She tailored her teaching to the kids level.

For teachers in public school, this is a big no-no. Everyone gets taught at the lowest level is the mantra. Mrs. Capps lasted three years in the public school before quitting in disgust at all the admin roadblocks.

In my sixth grade class, it was the complete opposite. The teacher didn’t like me and I was sent to the principals office about fifty to sixty times that year. So many times that the principle kept a desk outside his door for me to sit in and do my work. The teacher was failing me at first saying I didn’t turn in any homework. Turns out he was purposely losing my homework. My parents caught him at it when they surprised him by visiting right after school ended.

The only reason they did that is because Mrs. Capps had called my parents and told them not to believe a word that my six grade teacher was saying. After confronting him, my grades went back up to straight A’s. While they were grilling him, he let slip that he knew that I could teach the six grade class and that’s why he didn’t like me. I was constantly correcting him in class when he made errors on the board.

Usually that was a quick boot out of class for the rest of the day. Though I do admit that I definitely deserved to be booted out of class one day when I wore sunglasses. See the teacher was bald as a billiard ball. He asked me to take off my sunglasses and I refused. When he asked why, I responded with, “The glare off of your head is just too bright.”

Well, his face and head turned bright red and I knew I had gone too far. Before he could say a word, I grabbed my books and headed out of the class to the principals office. Of course, I took off my sunglasses before I got there. I may be a smart-alec, but I’m no fool.

Somehow I made it through the sixth grade without the teacher killing me.

So tell me, was the above interesting? To me, it wasn’t that special. It was just my life and what I went through. I didn’t seek it out and I didn’t ask for it. I had forgotten about the whole thing until the other night when I was reminiscing with my mom when she was here. After all these years, I finally found out exactly why my sixth grade teacher hated me. I had thought my older brother had pissed him off when he went through his class and the teacher was taking it out on me.

Turns out my mom didn’t know I went to the principles office so many times that year. She thought it was only a few times. The teacher never reported to my parents that he had sent me all those times.

Now that I look back, I see that I had many interesting experiences in my life. Probably more than my fair share. Maybe this is why I have so many topic ideas on writing. I draw from my experiences way more than I let on. Some of these stories I say are fiction, but in actuality they are pretty close to what happened in my life. I’m not telling which ones those are, you’ll just have to wonder.