Short Story Challenges Help Creativity and Gives Insight to Writers

With writing, I’m always open to learning about new rules. I also love to experiment. If you don’t try, then you’ll never know.

In June, my writing buddies, Melissa and Zach, plus me gave ourselves a writing challenge.

I may be aging myself, but have you ever heard of the MASH game? It was a popular game for girls when I was in school. Basically, you created random categories, picked four options for each category, then selected your choices by counting your marks.

Our short story challenge was to come up with a “random” story. My picks were:

  • MAS(House)
  • Guy–Lucas, video game developer
  • Girl–Gretchen, caterer
  • Season–Fall
  • Place–Asheville, NC
  • Motivation–Failure, so need redemption
  • Object–Row Boat
  • Emotion–Guilty
  • Flaw–Sheltered/Naive
  • Plot Device–Big Deadly Storm

I had to present each category into my short story. What a challenge! Having fun, I didn’t take my story too seriously. The main goal was finding motivation to write, which it helped tremendously. I know for a fact that I’m not big on disaster stories. However, I found out that I wouldn’t mind writing more dramas. 

Here’s my “random MASH” story if you’re interested:

I Need Gretchen

by Yawatta Hosby

With a blanket draped over my shoulders, I’m still wearing the same shorts and t-shirt I had on three days ago. I can barely hold on to the cup of orange juice in my hand. I imagine that I look like one of those anorexic guys who lose weight for a movie role, except I’m not cute with my disheveled  hair, bad breath, stinky armpits, and caked mud on my wet clothes. This isn’t a movie. It’s my life.

A chubby older lady approaches me, a clipboard and pen in her hand. Sympathy in her voice, she asks, “Can I have your name please?”

“Lucas Grant.”

“Nice to meet you, Lucas. Are you with anyone else?”

I slam my eyes shut, holding back tears. “I’m all alone.”

* * * *

Walking up the long, gravel driveway, I passed hickory trees that had some squirrels fighting over acorns. The front yard was planted with perennials, dogwood, and Virginia creepers. With the Victorian house, I could tell the high-end party would probably take one stern look at me and realize I didn’t belong. Heaven forbid I came from a middle class family in Virginia instead of a rich family in Asheville, North Carolina.

It probably didn’t help that I was going to crash this party. I couldn’t help it; I needed to see my sister Gretchen.

In the gigantic backyard, I noticed her. I could point out my sister’s auburn Mohawk anywhere. She was kissing ass to one of the guests. She always tilted her head to the side and placed her hand over her heart with a loud laugh when she was kissing ass. It worked on our parents all the time.

I could see the lightning flash of recognition in her eyes as Gretchen caught sight of me in her peripheral vision. She had turned her head slowly like she was hoping I’d disappear. Wide-eyed, she motioned for me to leave. Standing still, I ignored her because that’s what little brothers were supposed to do. They were supposed to annoy their big sisters. I read it in a handbook somewhere.

Gliding her way through the crowd like a heavy wind, she finally stood in front of me. I leaned up against an oak tree, anticipating the third degree, knowing I had to charm my way out of a lecture.

“Lucas, what are you doing here?”

“I need your help.”

She glanced at me, concern in her eyes. “Please tell me you have a place to stay. Why haven’t you invited me to your dorm room yet?”

It wasn’t easy, but the words poured out of my mouth like a flash flood. I spilled the beans of flunking out of South College-Asheville my freshmen year. If mom and dad knew, then they wouldn’t have let me come back into town. I couldn’t stay a prisoner at home, being treated like a kid, seeing the disappointment in dad’s eyes every day. I wanted to stay with my sister because I knew she’d always protect me. She never judged; at least not harshly like parents tended to do.

“Do mom and dad know?”

I shook my head.

Without hesitation, she said, ” You can sleep on my couch, but I’m not lying to mom and dad. You better hope they don’t ask me anything.”

I wrapped my arms around her quickly, so she couldn’t protest. I squeezed her tightly. “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

After I let go, Gretchen looked around the yard to see if anyone had been watching, which I found amusing. It must be exhausting caring what others think of you all of the time. She should try and be more of a free spirit like me.

“Maybe you can help me run my business until you get on your feet, dropout.”

“Ha-ha very funny. Don’t worry about me. I got things covered.”

She folded her arms across her chest. “How?”

“I applied to art school. You know I’ve never cared about business, but I’m into video games. I’ll go back to school, and…” I put a big emphasis on the word ‘and,’ knowing Gretchen would appreciate that I had a well thought out plan. “Next week, I intern for Mash Videos. They’re impressed that I developed video games in high school with Uncle Mike.”

“I’m proud of you. I wish dad would support your decision.”

“You know how he is. He thinks I’m just playing around.”

“Well, I got your back.”

* * * *

Babies cry around me. Parents hold their weeping children. I can’t ignore the loud noises. I can’t find silence. I can’t find a place where I can be alone. But, I’m alive…

Instead of staring at the basketball rim, I scan the room. Everyone looks worn out and emotionally drained like me, swollen red eyes from crying, bones sticking out from hunger. I wonder if my life would have been different if I had kept my basketball scholarship to Virginia Tech. I was a fool following my high school sweetheart to North Carolina. She ended up breaking my heart by the end of first semester. I failed every class because of depression. How embarrassing is that?

It doesn’t really matter, in the grand scheme of things, though.

A little girl in pigtails shivers in the cold. She won’t stop staring at me. Maybe I remind her of someone? I smile at her. If I squint my eyes hard enough, she resembles a younger version of Gretchen with doe-like hazel eyes and light caramel skin.

I slide across the bleachers until I’m sitting very close to the young girl and her mother. Before the mom can object, I take the blanket off of me and place it on top of them. The young girl smiles.

“Thank you, young man.”

It hurts to speak, so I just sit in silence. Who knows, we may all die in here. The rain hasn’t let up, sounding like gunshots whenever it hits the tin roof.

I sigh when I notice the chubby woman approach my side of the gym again, clipboard and pen still in hand. Yelling, she says, “We’re running low on supplies. Are there any volunteers who are willing to look for any trapped survivors in the city?”

The chubby woman stares at me like she’s hoping that I’ll raise my hand. Can I be a hero? Do I really have a choice? We can’t expect women or children to risk their lives. I wonder if they would look at me differently if they knew I was only nineteen. I can hear my dad’s voice: “Be a man, son.”

* * * *

Gretchen sequestered me in the kitchen with her staff. When she wasn’t paying attention, I hid on the third floor balcony. I looked down at the guests and decorated landscape, manmade lake included.

I was proud of my sister. She had managed to follow mom’s footsteps. They both attended a prestigious culinary school, worked for a famous chef in Dublin, then made names for themselves in the US. The only difference, mom worked in a restaurant, and Gretchen started her own catering service.

Hopefully, one day I’d become successful like them. Dad wouldn’t let me live it down if I didn’t. He was a circuit judge. The day I told him I had no desire to ever be a judge or lawyer was the day I broke him. Covering the resentment, he urged me to get a business degree. He wouldn’t even entertain the thought of his son becoming an artist. He said art was for wimps. A stubborn man, that one.

The wind swept colorful leaves up into the air like a baton ribbon. I glanced up at the sky. It was still sunny, no clouds in sight. It started to drizzle though. I stood against the wall of the house, protecting my dreads from the rain. I scanned the party one last time. No one seemed affected by the drizzle. I hid in a room and took a nap.

Hours later, I woke up to Gretchen screaming my name. Heavy winds shook the house. Finding my balance, I opened the balcony door and peaked over. The rough rain almost knocked me down. I held into the rail. 

“Lucas, we have to get outta here!”

I could barely hear her. I felt a sense of dread seeing her frightened expression. My eyes never left hers. “I’m coming down!”

The guy she spoke with earlier grabbed her arm and whispered something into her ear. He closed his eyes, waiting for something.

For what!

For what!

I couldn’t see behind the house unless I ran to the other side of the room.

Gretchen and the guy vanished. A gigantic wave forced them under water. Windows broke from the impact, the railing trapped me. It felt like I was under a waterfall. “Gretchen! Gretchen!” Once water filled my lungs, I began choking.

No! I had to save my sister! Please help me!

I had sat on that Victorian house roof for three days before a rescue team found me. My body was wrinkled and white like baby powder. I just kept rocking back and forth, glaring into the distance. They probably thought I was a mute because I wouldn’t answer their questions. For three days, I had watched Gretchen’s body, face down, dead in the lake. Just floating. Floating like a wilted flower in a puddle. It haunted me. I didn’t know what stopped me from stepping off the roof and drowning myself.

Maybe guilt? I should have protected my sister. I should be dead like her. I had planned on wasting away on that roof. I planned to starve myself. I would die a painful, slow death. I sobbed uncontrollably when help arrived. Not tears of joy, but tears of hopelessness. They had ruined my plan of joining my sister. How could I live without her?

* * * *

I’m in a rowboat with two other guys. I have no idea how we’re going to fit more people in our boat if we find survivors. The rain stings my skin like sleet. Water completely drowns the streets of Asheville. Roofs are the only visible parts on buildings. The gym was built on a mountain, but heaven forbid, there’s a mudslide.

I don’t even have the strength to paddle anymore. What’s the point? Dead bodies are everywhere. I’m not strong enough for this. I need my big sister. I need Gretchen.

THE END

I really pushed myself by experimenting with non-linear plot and creating a drama. It would’ve been too easy to stay in my comfort zone, creating a suspense. I’m happy with the end product because I learned a lot about my writer self.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: Finding Her Feet By Jams N. Roses

***I received a free copy in exchange for a book review***

Drama. Tragedy. Family. Life.

FINDING HER FEET by Jams N. Roses

The tragedy begins as Amanda watches her sister fall through the broken ice. Heartbreakingly, Samantha doesn’t reappear until the following day, when her lifeless body is pulled from the water. The devastation continues as the family falls apart under the weight of emotional pain and unfair blame.

When overwhelmed with guilt, how does a child cope with a death in the family?

Contemporary Drama / Tragedy / YA – Adult Content – Sex & Violence – 16+

413X4gAMwjL._AA200_I liked this 38 chapter book. Samantha (a.k.a. Sam) and Amanda were twins. Michelle was their older sister. When they were younger, Sam died by drowning in an icy lake. Their mom became abusive toward Michelle while their dad avoided everyone due to depression.

I’ll never forgive what the mom allowed to happen to Michelle as a little girl. The mom was definitely my most hated character. The author did a great job with characterization–you either loved or hated the people in the story, but you were never bored with them. In a twist, Michelle had a bad childhood but managed to find success as a young adult. Amanda was spoiled as a child. When she turned 16, a destructive path followed her like the plague. I couldn’t even imagine living with guilt of losing a sibling.

There was a lot of headhopping, so some of the dramatic or suspenseful moments were overshadowed by already knowing what all the characters were plotting in the same paragraphs. It took all the tension away. As a reader,  I wish there was more dialogue and immediate scenes. There seemed to be a lot of telling what happened by narrative summary.

My favorite lines: 1) When Samantha lost her life in that lake, she took the life of her family with her. 2) ‘She had the right to be angry,’ said Michelle, ‘but to let other people hurt me was too much. Her rejection was punishment enough.’

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

For more information on the author or book:

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: Twist’s Tales Volume 1 By Michael Twist

Ten stories featuring ten individuals in situations, both common and uncommon, that draw on full range of emotions. From a woman’s blind date; to a teen making a career choice; to a soldier returning home; to a man with a regret; to a prisoner’s dilemma; these thought-provoking stories will stay with you for days.

16149913I loved this book that had 11 short stories. I agree with the author that interesting things happen to people (especially when no witnesses are around). These stories focused on the decisions people  make and the internal conflict involved. It’s probably why I loved them so much–I’m a huge fan of psychology. Michael Twist managed to create characters and situations that I connected with, which is a wonderful talent considering this wasn’t a novel.

Strange Indeed–Selena was a writer who had her first story published in a magazine. She interacted with Bill online afterwards. He was an aspiring writer as well. My favorite lines: 1) While it had occurred to her more than once it had never come up during their on-line chats and seemed shallow in a way that she liked to think of as being beneath a writer’s dignity. 2) “They say truth is stranger than fiction.” They ended up having a date, but had no chemistry. I could relate to Selena in many ways–both writers, Plain janes, etc. The conversations were interesting; too bad they didn’t work out.

What Elsie Meyer Found at the Bottom of Jerry Oliver’s Urn–I loved the edge in this story; it was one of my favorites. Elsie let a music scholarship slip from her fingers in order to stay with Bobby, who was in a band. They both ended up as heroin addicts. I like that this story didn’t shy away from what that entails–living in filthy places, if not enough money to buy product then share your girl, etc. They robbed a house, stealing a urn of a 5 year old boy. My favorite scene was when Elsie watched the news of the boy’s parents pleading for it back. It was a wake-up call. My favorite lines: 1) Honor among thieves is for assholes and amateurs, Mike’s father had always maintained. 2) Mired within her blurred image, Elsie Meyer was fairly certain she saw a first semblance of self-respect.

Lack of Imagination–This was another one of my favorites. Two college guys took a road trip to spend the holidays with their families. I enjoyed the drama, especially the conversation. It must be frustrating to be stuck in a snow storm with someone who won’t listen to you when you encourage them to pull over. It’s not just their life in danger, it’s yours too. I loved the ending; it was pretty intense. My favorite line: Willie kept driving and I realized he was using the drive to define us. From this moment forward, he would be the brave and courageous, and I would be the weak and fearful.

Wonderings–I liked that this story had a teenager reflecting his life. Rory’s father didn’t approve of his art (considered it a hobby instead of a job) so forced him to attend college away from home to grow up. The poor boy loved living in Santa Monica though; it’s a shame that some parents dictate their child’s lives without thinking of the consequences. I could relate to Rory because he was a people watcher. My favorite section was him sitting on a bench guessing the lives of people as they walked by.

Dear John–This was another sad story. Kathy and John were high school sweethearts. He came back from the war after being discharged due to an injury. He wanted to marry her and start a family, but he could sense things had changed on her end. My favorite line: Kathy was saying something, and John had to focus to take it in, as if hearing a foreign language you’d been studying spoken too fast to follow.

No Small Thing–The author was great with voice; the narration never deterred from sounding like a man with no education, making him sound like a country bumpkin. He wrote in his journal. He was a prisoner who had 11 years left of his sentence. Frank offered a way for them to escape. It was sad that the guy’s mom died because she had been his only visitor. I loved the way he reminisced about his high school days, how a teacher had challenged him to read and write.

Tete-a-Tete–This had an interesting twist at the end. A war veteran can go home to his family if he made progress with his therapy sessions.

Better Late–Steve was going to his 10 year reunion and was anxious to see Mallory and Matt because he felt that he had to apologize for something. I enjoyed his flashbacks of how school had been for him, especially in the boy’s locker room.

The Spare–I liked the drama in this story. Cherise was pregnant with Jimmy’s baby. He was in prison. I liked that she wanted a better life for her and her baby. No need to repeat the cycle.

Close–This was another one of my favorites. It was cool getting a sense of who Mark was by someone else’s account. The narrator was attending his 20 year reunion. The buzz–Mark would be there (he had disappeared right after graduation). My favorite line: Adults who knew of his limitless potential would look at Mark with a degree of sadness as if they knew of regrets he might later labor. I felt sorry for what Mark had to go through growing up.

The Story I Cannot Tell–This story was great with setting; I could visualize the places and people vividly. A guy wished that his dad would have taught him the outdooresy, country life instead of living on the east coast away from his cousins. There was a mystery element to his uncle Roman. The ending was a tease. I want to know the uncle’s secret!

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

For more information on the author or book:

  • Website
  • Email: info(AT)michael-twist(DOT)com

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Trapped by Yawatta Hosby

COPYRIGHT 2012

Trapped by Yawatta Hosby

Finia slammed her car door and walked slowly towards her home. Of course, she couldn’t relax this afternoon. Not with Miki’s red Mustang in the driveway.

The sky darkened with grey clouds as if in tune with her recent mood swing. Hesitantly, she placed her hand on the doorknob, taking a deep breath.

She entered the living room. Miki was the first to notice her; he smiled and waved.

Finia grinned weakly. “Hey everyone.”

Jahlin turned around. His eyes became wide with delight, and he smiled from ear to ear. Dropping the Wii remote, he ran to his mom and hugged her legs. “Mommy!”

Finia bent down to wrap her arms around him. He was only five years old, still at the age of adoring his parents. She wasn’t looking forward to him becoming a teenager and treating her like an embarrassing nuisance, a nagging parent instead of someone cool, who he respected.

She kissed her son on the cheek. “Did you give Laura a hard time?” She winked at her cousin, who typed away on her laptop.

“No, I was a good boy.” He pointed to the flat screen television hanging on the wall. “Daddy brought me a video game.”

“He did. Did you thank him?”

Jahlin nodded. He embraced his mom’s legs again then continued playing Mario Kart with his favorite cousin CJ.

Finia sneaked a peek at Miki. He opened his mouth to speak, so she went upstairs to her room; she wasn’t in the mood to hear what he had to say. With Miki, he always had something to say. She plopped on her bed, trying to collect her thoughts. Laura followed Finia, who had been too distracted to notice. She stood near the dresser, admiring jewelry.

“Don’t even,” Finia teased.

“Can’t a girl browse?” Laura laughed.

“How long has he been here?”

“Not long.”

“Did he call first?”

Laura shook her head. Finia frowned. She had only made one request, and Miki blatantly ignored it time and time again. But that didn’t stop him from constantly putting demands on her like they were a couple. Like they had an emotional bond. They used to, until Miki messed everything up.

When their son was born, Miki had been respectful and listened to Finia’s wants and needs. They were parents–recently broken up from each other–trying the best they could for their newborn. They had decided to get along for the sake of raising Jahlin together.

One day, he had stopped by unannounced; he acted like Finia committed a cardinal sin because there was a guy sitting at the kitchen table fixing her computer. Miki told her that he didn’t want random guys around his son. First of all, the guy wore a Best Buy uniform. Second, she and Miki weren’t dating anymore. He had no right to dictate who she could and could not see.

Since there’s no reasoning with him when he had an idea stuck in his head, Miki continued to stop by unannounced all the time. Sometimes Jahlin was home, sometimes not. He liked to attend his granddad’s softball tournaments once in a while. Miki would wait comfortably, not caring how long it took for his son to get home. Not caring if he was bothering Finia.

She sighed. If only he hadn’t broken her trust the way he did. If only he hadn’t taken away her freedom to choose. “Did Miki say what he wanted?”

Laura nodded. “He wants to talk to you.”

“Of course he does.”

“What happened to you guys? You used to be so happy.”

“We just didn’t work out.” Finia had never mentioned how much pain he put her through. She was too embarrassed to tell her family the real reason behind their break-up; it was like she was stuck in a Lifetime Movie that she never asked to star in.

“Well, I’m taking CJ to Dairy Queen. Do you want me to take Jahlin too? It’ll give you guys some privacy.”

Finia wiped a tear from her eye. “Sure.”

Her cousin sat down and hugged Finia, trying to provide comfort. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. I’m just tired…I’ll be alright. I promise.” Finia wiggled out of Laura’s embrace and smiled weakly. She wasn’t great with expressing emotions. It’s not that she wouldn’t; Finia didn’t know how. As a child, no one ever taught her how to love or put her feelings out on the table, so Finia kept everything bottled up. She didn’t want to be an emotional robot, but she couldn’t get out of the rut she was in.

Laura stood, heading for the door. “We’ll be back.” She turned around. “You coming?”

“Yeah, just give me a minute.”

Laura left.

Finia couldn’t handle another outburst from Miki. Not now. Not today, but once again she was forced into something she had no desire to do. He had the conniving capability of always getting his way, yet Finia finally had the upper-hand. She would never be romantically involved with him, no matter how many times he begged.

Just listen to Miki, then he’ll leave. Yeah right, if only it was that simple. Finia crossed her bedroom, dreading what was in store for her.

He was already waiting for her at the bottom of the steps. He wiped sweat from his forehead then fidgeted with his hands. She passed him to enter the kitchen where she started putting away dishes in their proper place. Finia would listen to him, didn’t mean she had to make eye contact. Miki followed and stood behind her at the counter. They were so close that if she fell backwards, she’d trip into him. Or if he took one measly step forward, he’d be able to rub up against her. Probably a cheap trick Miki would attempt before the conversation was over.

“Can’t you look at me?” he pleaded.

“What do you want, Miki?” It wouldn’t be so bad if he wanted to discuss Jahlin, to set schedules for visitations or holidays. But nope. He always wanted to open the floodgates about Finia somehow wronging him.

Like clockwork, he spilled his requests out like she was customer service. “I wish you’d stop treating me like I don’t exist. You don’t even acknowledge my presence.”

“Since when?” Finia gripped the plate tightly then banged it inside the cabinet.

“Just now. You didn’t even say ‘hey’ to me when you came in.”

Finia rolled her eyes. She wished she could buy a ticket to Denyville where Miki was a permanent resident. “I said ‘hey everyone.’ Stop rewriting history.”

“You didn’t say it specifically to me.”

“Next time I’ll single you out as the most important person in my life,” she said.

Finia ran out of dishes to put away, and there weren’t dirty ones in the sink. With no more excuses to stay with her back towards Miki, she hesitantly turned around. She was greeted with his famous pout.

He lowered his gaze to the floor. This was a first–he was speechless. Now, Finia became nervous. What did Miki want?

“It’s been five years,” he whispered. “When are you gonna let go and forgive me?”

He actually went there. “I can forgive, but I can’t forget.”

Miki had always wanted a family. Finia didn’t want kids because she was afraid she wouldn’t be a good mother. The last thing she needed was her children thinking their mom didn’t love, support, or want them.

There was no compromising on that, so Finia dumped him, giving him a chance to find true happiness. She had loved Miki, yet it was easy to let him go. Unfortunately, he hadn’t felt the same way or acted like a rational adult. Months later, she found out she was pregnant; they reconnected again. At the doctor’s office, Finia expressed concern about the baby’s health because she had taken birth control all that time, not realizing she was pregnant.

The doctor had told her there was no trace of birth control pills in her system. Later, Miki confessed to switching her container with other pills and poking holes in the condoms to guarantee she’d get pregnant. He said he was desperate because he could sense Finia wanted to leave him.

Miki trapped her and never apologized, claiming he did nothing wrong. That she had ended up loving their son like he knew she would, so what was the problem?

There was no moving forward from that.

Finia couldn’t deny that Miki was a great father; he always spent time with Jahlin–he definitely wasn’t a weekend or summer only dad. He paid his child support on time. In fact, Miki probably nurtured their son emotionally more than Finia ever could. That’s why she didn’t become vindictive and try to make him lose custody or play silly mind games where she’d find every excuse in the book to delay Miki spending time with Jahlin.

If only he hadn’t betrayed her, then maybe they could’ve ended up one big, happy family. Finia started to believe that satisfying endings only happened in fairytales. Or in Denyville. Not the real world.

Miki rubbed his forehead as though he had a headache. “I’ve been going to therapy for the past eight months.”

Finia’s ears perked up. How did he keep it a secret for so long? Or was it a sick ploy to win her back? An act of manipulation? It’s not like Miki couldn’t lie well. “Really? I’m proud of you. It takes a strong person to admit they need help, then take the steps toward getting it,” she said.

“Thank you. That means a lot coming from you.” His eyes beamed with hope, then turned vulnerable. “I’ve brought you up a lot. You know I feel that you’re the one who got away…my therapist would like to talk to you.”

“Me?”

“Yes, only for a couple of sessions with me. She feels it’d be a great way to get everything off our chests.” He gulped, waiting for an answer.

“When?”

“Thursdays at 6.”

“I’d need a babysitter for Jahlin. You know Laura leaves at 4.”

Miki smiled. “Already covered. My mom will watch him.”

“Okay then. I’ll go.” Maybe this would provide closure. Finia knew Miki would always be in her life (she didn’t believe that after the child reached eighteen, the parents could wipe their hands clean of each other). But hopefully, he’d understand they’d never be an item, and move on. When he’d visit, he’d only expect to see Jahlin instead of demanding Finia’s time too. In the long run, this would be beneficial for both of them. Maybe the therapist could help Finia get over her resentment.

#

This was a good sign that Finia agreed. She could have easily said no but she didn’t, not even hesitating. Miki knew that deep down she still had feelings for him. Hopefully, the therapist could get her to explain how he could win her back. He needed Finia and Jahlin in his life because they were his family. Plus, he didn’t want Jahlin to be the only child.

Miki grew up as an only child, and it sucked. Jahlin needed at least one or two younger siblings. It’d be too tacky to have different women as his babies’ mommas, so Miki needed Finia to cooperate. It’d only take once for her to let her guard down, and he could take advantage of her vulnerable state. He probably couldn’t get away with stealing her birth control again, but he’d find a different method. Miki needed to rush since they were in their mid-thirties. Finia’s biological clock ticked away; then again, women had babies in their forties, so maybe he had more time than he calculated.

He was doing this for her own good since she didn’t know what she truly wanted. He was doing Finia a favor by guiding her in the right direction.

Miki was grateful that she let him stay until their son’s bedtime (not that he would leave anyway). Jahlin lay under the covers while Miki read him a story. Finia sat on the other side of the bed, holding Jahlin’s hand.

“Are you two divorced?” Jahlin whispered, then hid under the covers. How did he know about that word? He was too young.

Miki peeled the covers back. “No. Why do you think that?”

“Because you don’t live with us, Daddy.”

Miki’s heart sank. He’d do everything in his power to change that, if only his son could wait a little while longer. “I did something to hurt your mommy, so until I make things right, you’ll have two homes.”

“Did you say sorry?”

Miki looked at Finia, who wiped a tear from her eye. If that’s what she wanted, he would shout it from the rooftops even if he didn’t feel remorse. He would never regret getting Jahlin–the best thing that ever happened in his life–and apologizing would imply regret. But if she needed to hear that to give him a second chance, then Miki had no problems lying. “I wish it was that simple.”

“We both love you. That will never change,” Finia said.

Jahlin smiled. “I love you too.”

They each hugged him and gave Jahlin a kiss on the forehead. “Now go to sleep,” Miki said.

“Daddy, can you check for monsters?”

Miki searched in the closet and under the bed. “Nothing’s there.”

After they left, Finia asked, “Monsters? He never asks me to check.”

“He thinks it’s a man thing to do. He doesn’t want to put you in any danger.”

Finia chuckled. “How thoughtful.”

Miki could get used to this–her not treating him like he had a disease. Finia escorted him to the door. For once, he didn’t want to overstay his welcome. He should be on his best behavior, so she’d let her guard down faster.

“Good night,” she said.

“Sweet dreams.” He grabbed her hand and planted a kiss on it. “Thanks for a wonderful evening.”

“Get out, Miki.” She shook her head, smirking.

He left, and his heart sank again when she closed the door in his face. He was trapped in this limbo stage where he couldn’t be with his family every second of the day. He desperately needed to get out soon. He glanced up at the window and noticed Jahlin peeking through the curtain. He waved, so did his son. Miki would get his happy ending that he deserved; he just needed to wait patiently.

THE END

Book Review: Room 317 By R.M. Voza

Someone wrote me a comment about NaNoWriMo tips, so, of course, I had to check out his blog. From there, he had written a post that had a few comments. I liked the commentators (Darla and Rich), clicking on their blogs as well.

I found a blog with some book descriptions that sounded interesting; I decided to try Room 317 first. He had even joked that he doesn’t promote himself. With his writing ability, the author should definitely market his books, so I’ll help him out hee hee.

Room 317 by R.M. Voza is the thirteenth book of my reading challenge. Here’s my thoughts:

Somewhere in the middle of nowhere is Room 317. That’s where everything ends.

Five people will walk in. One will walk out. One will limp out. One will be thrown out. Two will be carried out. The five of them come from many places. California, New Jersey, and a few places between. What brings them there is all very different. What gets them out is pretty much the same. There will be bullets, broken glass, and blood. All of them will be changed. Not all of them will see tomorrow.

John Page has always tried to do the right thing, but others have taken advantage of his good nature and placed him on the wrong side of the gavel. Losing his job and family and being publicly smeared are more than he can handle. After selling everything worth a buck and stuffing anything needed in a backpack, John steps on a westward bus without certainty of where he is going other than to be far away from anyone who knows him. He has one plan: to selfishly forget his past and never lift a finger to help anyone but himself.

En route to nowhere, John meets several interesting people. Melissa is a single mother heading from Philadelphia to Southern California with her 7-year old daughter Charlotte. Unfortunately, one of them won’t make it home.

There’s a young couple whom John nicknames “Hoody and Bunny.” They constantly look over their shoulders and while protecting a small package Hoody seems to have a tight grip on something in his pocket, while Bunny has eyes that plead for help.

At each step across the country, John learns a little more about Hoody and Bunny, but none of what he learns is good. He also learns a little more about Melissa and Charlotte, but it’s a painful reminder of the child he left behind.

All of them have very different pasts that have brought them traveling in the same direction. All of them, and others, will eventually meet in Room 317 of a dark motel in the middle of nowhere. The police will be there, but they will not be of much help. Sometimes we create our own problems. Sometimes we are the only ones who can solve them.

Room 317 is a place where everyone’s mistakes collide, everyone’s history will become the present, and everyone’s life will be on the balance. Not everyone will live. Not everyone will want to.

Richard Voza draws several lines in the dirt, dramatically brings them all together, ties them in a knot of tension, and cuts most of them lose.

This 17 chapter book was so depressing, and I loved every second of it. Poor John–through his flashbacks, I could understand why he gave up all hope. He couldn’t catch a break! The story was very intense, raw, and edgy. Think Degrassi’s theme: It goes there.

  • I enjoyed the set-up that the story takes place on a bus; its the perfect place to let your mind wander about your past, present, and future. Plus, it reminded me of all the times I rode the Greyhound to Morgantown from Hagerstown. The longest bus ride I took was eight hours to Cleveland. Anyway, back to John’s dilemma. Nicole–a spoiled brat (total understatement)–ruined his and Jessica’s life just because she wanted to be valedictorian. The women he fell in love with dumped him for her abusive husband, and his crazy ex-wife was pathetic. She set John up, so he can never visit his kids again. It was trifling after trifling after trifling events revealed of his past, and it all tied nicely together, especially the reason John left his teaching position.

The suspense grabbed my attention from beginning to end. I was suspicious that the older couple on the bus knew something about John. A blue Cadillac always followed the bus, and I knew automatically that Bunny and Hoody were shady. Something bad would happen; it was just a matter of when. I sat on the edge of my seat the entire time.

I loved John’s interaction with the child Charlotte and her mother Melissa. It was a nice surprise to get a sort of love story out of the suspense, drama element. It was so cute the way their friendship developed, especially the beginning stages. My favorite moment was when he had written something about her in his notebook (he had a Book of Observations–so awesome), and she happened to come across the page and wrote something for him. So sweet.

  • I also liked the bar scene. John got along with the waitress and Erin, who sat beside him mistaking John for Jim. Talk about awkward lol. He had such a depressing life; he deserved some moments of happiness, even if only for a few minutes.

I have several favorite lines that it’s not even funny. “Same shit, different state.” I’d totally buy that bumper sticker.

  • “Connections lead to disconnections. Disconnections lead to pain.” It broke my heart the reason John wanted to keep distance from others.
  • “…longer it would take for her to look at him, the more he was certain that she had a new awareness of something.” I absolutely enjoyed the tension in that scene–John wanted to know why Melissa was avoiding him, and he wanted to know right now.

The author has an amazing talent of being very descriptive and using beautiful imagery. I got lost in the story to the point that I was worried about the characters safety and really hoped for a happy ending for John. R.M. Voza was great with the drama elements that I cried at three different sections of the novel. Something I’m not even embarrassed to admit. I’m not talking about shedding a tear and taking a moment to reflect what I had just read. I’m talking about body shaking, throat sore, hard to swallow because of knot, having to grab tissue because of watery eyes and runny nose.

The story ended perfectly and Melissa’s actions throughout the trip made sense once everything came together. Too bad she got kidnapped. Want to know what happened, read the book. Room 317 was a fast read; I didn’t take a break once from my Kindle.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Update #2 on Romance Drama

Finishing the critique stage with Anam, I’m on my own to polish my draft before sending it off to beta-readers. Is there such a thing as editor’s block? When I create my stories, I get lost in the moment and can write for hours upon hours (I’m talking still working through it even if my hands cramp). But with revisions, editing I find myself staring blankly at the computer screen. Or sighing heavily at the paper in front of me.

I don’t know what it is, but I have to snap out of it. After talking to a couple of authors, I realize that I need to combine a few chapters. I’m in the 30 plus range and want to bring that down to mid-20’s (for my chapter total). And, I really want to fine tune every single scene to make sure it is perfect. To make sure, I’ve described in enough detail, setting the mood so the readers experience what my characters are feeling. Plus, I want to make sure I R.U.E. (resist the urge to explain).

I’ve already decided that this weekend I will work on this rough draft–no excuses. I will get it done then I’ll look over Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. So within two weeks, I will finish. I’m a procrastinator, but I work best under pressure hee hee. In college, I had a ten page paper due for my Native American Literature class. We were to choose three short stories from a collection and describe, explain them in detail. We had known about the assignment for at least a month, yet I didn’t work on it until the night before it was due in the morning. Let’s just say, I pulled an all-nighter. But guess what. I got an ‘A’ on my paper.

I thought I had the name decided, but MR gave me an option that I enjoy too. If anyone is interested in helping me pick a name for my novel, please vote for the title you like best. I’ll really appreciate it. For those of you that have no idea what my story is about, I’ve written a couple of posts under Personal Writing Experience category.

Thanks again for your input.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Second Draft of Romance Drama Completed!!!

Yea, I finished my second draft on December 10th!  I kept it at 12-point, Arial font with 179 pages and 44,808 word count.  It’s lower than my first draft, but at least I’m satisfied with the words on the page.  That’s always a triumph!!

I gave two supporting characters name changes, added a few scenes, and expanded on others.  I still have a lot to do to get my word count up unless I query as a category romance (would need at least an additional 11,000 words).  80,000 word count for a novel is looking like a dream instead of a reality hee hee.

To show that I enjoy my plot and characters, I’ve come up with two potential titles.  I like to name my stories after songs; first option, Though I’m Missing You sung by Brandy and second option, When You’re Gone sung by Avril Lavigne.

I like where I’m at now.  The setting is in Providence, Rhode Island.  Poe hasn’t spoken to her ex in a year, but he calls because her best friend, who is his cousin, dies, so she flies out there to attend the funeral.  The story is told through Poe and Oliver’s point of view dealing with the tragedy as well as trying to get closure from one another.

Death hits home for me since I lost both my grandmothers in 2008.  This story is a dedication to them showing how I dealt with my stages of grief.  Instead of the main character dealing with a loss of a family member, I thought it’d be more interesting to have it be her best friend.

Even though it deals with a funeral at the end of the book, I wouldn’t say readers would need Kleenex throughout the whole thing; it’s not overly sappy.  Then again, one day I let my co-worker read my 300-page Graphic novel, and she was sniffling at her desk.  When she finished, I asked her what part almost made her cry.  The part she told me about was sad, but it didn’t make me cry–maybe I’m just cold-hearted (just kidding).

That’s all I can say without giving everything away, so I’ll end with I’m proud of this rough draft.  People can read it without me flinching.

Now, off to join Ladies Who Critique or Absolute Write Share Your Work.  This process of revising my rough draft will vary depending on if my critique partner likes my writing style or has a lot to complain about.  I respect honesty, and I can take any criticism.

After that, my third draft will be completed, which I’ll take my critic’s opinions under consideration, as well as apply the rules from Self-Editing for Fiction Writers.  Then, that draft will be sent off to Beta-Readers.  Wish me luck!!!

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Romance Drama First Draft Completed!!!

Since August 25th of this year, I’ve worked on a romance drama.  I completed my first draft on November 18th, which is pretty good timing for a procrastinator.  I can’t really get into the details because anything from the character’s name to some plot points could very well change by the final draft.  I love my ending, but I’m iffy on the beginning.

Have you ever been so proud of something yet find it so blah at the same time?  That’s how I always feel about my first drafts.  I’m satisfied with getting my thoughts on paper, but I pray no one sees it in its rough stage.  I’m very protective of it.  Don’t even try looking over my shoulder to sneak a peek.  And, don’t judge me on it.  LOL.

My romance drama is 185 typed pages double-spaced with Arial font.  It is 49,112 words (word count is VERY IMPORTANT if you are interested in getting your book published).  Agents and publishers look to see if your manuscript (what your draft is called at its final stage) has a word count that is too high or too low.  It depends on the genre you write for.

I have a long way to go.  First, my word count is too low.  I have to work on getting that higher, so it can be considered a novel.  It’ll help when I show rather than tell.  Second, I have to flesh out my characters more.  They have to be relatable and interesting enough for readers to care about them.  Third, I have to get rid of all the passive wording and repeated phrases and words.  During the editing stages, a thesaurus is my friend.

Being very motivated to edit, I started the process this morning.  When revisions are complete, I can rewrite for my second draft.

Around the second or third draft, I won’t be afraid to let others read it.  I’m very open to constructive criticism.  There’s no point to attempt to get published, if you don’t have a readable story.

My hobby of writing stories has been a passion of mine since the age of eleven.  Recently, I’ve had a desire to try to get published, so I have to take the extra steps in getting my story in tip-top shape, instead of for my eyes only.

After my second draft, I’ll apply the editing tips in my Self-Editing for Fiction Writers book, which is a very helpful resource.

For my third draft, I will take two chapters and share them on the Absolute Write Forum.  After taking their comments into consideration, my fourth draft will be complete.  This draft will be read by one or two beta-readers, who are volunteers that take time out of their busy lives to make suggestions on your entire novel.  They should not see a draft unless you feel it is at its best.  That you’re confident to query agents with it.  After following the beta-readers suggestions, my manuscript will be formed.

I don’t want to rush my goals, but I don’t want to slack off either.  This blog is for writing tips, sharing my personal journey as a writer, and gossiping about people and situations that could become potential story ideas.  So, if you notice I haven’t written a blog post regarding my writing experience in a long time, then call me out on it.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

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