Category Archives: #amwriting

SNEAK ATTACK: A MASTER PLAN

mastermind – noun, verb

[mas-ter-mahynd, mah-ster-]

  1.   noun: A person who plans and organizes something
  2.   verb: to plan and direct (a usually complex project or activity), especially skillfully

 

Ollie held a ham and Swiss cheese sandwich. Those were Kirby’s favorite. A mastermind of thievery, Kirby put her plan in action.

A tree stood tall between Ollie and Kirby. Kirby hid and watched. Ollie spread mustard on his sandwich, making sure it reached all edges. He carefully replaced the top slice of bread.

Kirby snuck up behind a bird in the yard.

Ollie opened his mouth.

Charge!

Tweet, tweet! Whizzzz rustle.

Ollie jumped at the sudden movement. He looked up. A leaf directly above his head fluttered toward him.

“Stay off my sandwich, leaf. It’s mine.” Ollie shooed the leaf away and settled back down.

Kirby slunk closer. She had to stop Ollie from eating that ham and Swiss sandwich. Her mouth watered. Drool dripped from her muzzle.

Ollie opened wide and took a dainty bite.

Kirby cocked her head. Such a small bite for such a wide mouth.

“Mmmm. This is the best sandwich ever.” Ollie licked his lips.

A rock lay near. Kirby turned around three times, then kicked the rock right past Ollie, toward the field.

Just as Ollie opened for another bite, the rock tumbled past.

Kirby hid behind the tree.

“Who rolled the rock?” Ollie asked.

The wind whistled in response.

Ollie grunted as he took another bite.

His mouth full, he looked around.

“I wonder where Kirby is?” Ollie said, chewing.

Kirby yipped at the sound of her name. Oops.

Ollie swallowed. “Too bad Kirby isn’t here. I would gladly share my sandwich with her.”

Kirby crawled on all fours toward Ollie. Sneak attack.

Ollie swigged back water from his cup.

Kirby crawled closer. Rustle. Snap.

Ollie set his sandwich down on the wrapper. He stood up and stretched.

This is my chance. Kirby crept.  And crept. Almost there.

Grumble, burp!

Kirby stopped in her tracks.

Ollie sat down. He stretched his legs out in front of him and put his arms behind hid head and lay down. The sandwich lay on the wrapper next to him.

“I just need a couple minutes rest before I finish my sandwich.”

Kirby stood up. She tread softly to Ollie’s other side. She watched him breathe softly, his eyes closed. The sandwich was just ahead, near Ollie’s side.

Bzzz. Bzzz. Bzzz.

Get outta here fly!

Bzzz. Bzzz.

Ollie swatted the air above his face.

Kirby placed her front paws down in front of her, raising her butt in the air.

And…..leap!

Ollie swung his arm out, swiping his sandwich high into the sky just as Kirby flew through the air, her mouth open wide.

Success! The sandwich made contact and with one tug, it ripped in half.

“Great effort Kirby!” Ollie laughed. “You know, I always share with you. No need to sneak attack.”

Kirby gulped her half down.

“I suppose you need a drink  now?” Ollie asked.

Woof!

“Here you go,” Ollie offered Kirby his cup of water. He finished his sandwich while she drank. “I hope you left me a drop.”

Kirby looked up, water dripped from her muzzle.

Ollie looked in his cup. One drop left. He hugged his dog. Kirby nuzzled him back.

“I suppose you want to nap now, huh?” Ollie lay down.

Great idea Ollie! Just like I planned. Kirby nestled into Ollie.

Dreams of their next adventure filled both of their heads.

 

 

 

 

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SHOW OR TELL?

Disclosure: The purpose of my Word of the Day story/writing is to promote getting the words down, which is a big feat for writers or anyone needing to write a paper. I give myself just 60 minutes to write and edit before posting. Therefore, the story/writing is barely past a first draft.  I use one of the three online dictionaries #WordoftheDay posts as my writing prompt. I encourage you to try it too. Feel free to comment below. 

http://www.learnersdictionary.com/word-of-the-day

nevertheless – adverb

[nev-er-th uhles]

  • in spite of what has just been said

 

FIVE, FOUR, THREE, TWO, ONE…BLAST OFF!!!

Or

TEN, NINE, EIGHT, SEVEN, SIX, FIVE, FOUR, THREE, TWO, ONE…HAPPY NEW YEAR!

You can feel the excitement building with each number and BAM! Climax. What’s next? Does the world stop to watch? Sometimes, yes. Such as in the case of any rockets going into space. But what happens after the New Year hug, kiss, or high-five of celebration of witnessing another year ringing in?

For some, it’s writing out the new year goals or resolutions. For others, it’s going back to the humdrum of life that was before the new year started. And yet for the rest, it’s revving up the excitement of working on or planning what will partake this new year. What adventures to go on. What new things to try. What form of self discovery to indulge in. Then diving in head first to make it happen.

Where do you fit in? Are with the some, the others, or the rest?  You could fit into more than one category, most people do.

For me, I choose the rest category. No resolution writing.new years (2)_LI No humdrum. Instead, I choose to DO! I choose to show, not tell. What does that mean? Instead of telling people what I am going to do, I say nothing and just do it. No need to tell people, I just need to show to myself, that I can do whatever it is I want, by doing.

Pertaining to my writing, how about this to ponder: words are words, actions are actions. Show or tell.

Almost. As a picture book writer, my job is to show what cannot be shown by illustrations. As a middle grade, young adult writer, I need to show more, since I have no illustrator to help me, but I do still need to tell a few things depending on the story.

If you read a book that only told you everything that happened instead of showing you, would you keep reading?

If the story was shown to you as a movie, using words, would you keep reading? That’s the only way I will keep reading. I want to feel as though I am in the story.

What about applying this to life in general? Good question. If I’m telling people I’m going to write a book, I probably am not going to actually write a book. So, I don’t tell people. I write the books instead.

The fun is in the showing, not the telling.

(Nevertheless, telling has its’ place; such as reporting bad behavior, or reporting an accident, etc.)

FIVE, FOUR, THREE, TWO, ONE…TIME’S UP.

I know what I’m doing next. Do you?

Cool!  Go do it!

 

#justkeepwriting #justkeepwriting

BEST SURPRISE EVER!

spatula – noun    spatula

[spachuh-luh]

  1.   a kitchen tool that has a handle which is bent upward and a wide, thin blade used for lifting and turning foods on a hot surface
  2.   a kitchen tool that has a long handle and short, soft blade and that is used especially for mixing, spreading, etc.
  3.   a kitchen tool similar to a knife that has a flexible blade and that is used for mixing, spreading, etc

 

Today was special for one reason: Nana and Paps were bringing my family a surprise! They brought us surprises a lot. One time, it was a tire swing and a seesaw they made from scraps. Another time it was an exotic food cookbook from a flea market (my father doesn’t like any of the meals Mom made from that cookbook so far) and the last time, they gave us a recycled picture frame with them in it. The surprise could be small or it could be big, you never knew. We took turns guessing what the surprise could be.

“A puppy!” Leesa, my baby sister squealed, as she threw handfuls of dog food out for Lila and Jack, our hounds.

“A T-Rex!” said my little brother, Drew.

“We already have two dogs and dinosaurs are extinct,” I told them.

“I hope it’s a new cookbook so I can try new recipes,” Mom said.

“I hope it’s not,” Dad joked. Mom shook her melted spatula at him. It was a family joke how her favorite spatula came to be that way.

Dad had accidentally dropped a pan-flipped pancake onto the hot gas burner and grabbed Mom’s favorite plastic spatula to scoop the pancake up but melted the spatula in the process.

“Should have used the metal spatula to begin with.”

“I didn’t use a spatula at all to begin with,” Dad said.

 

Mom was angry for a millisecond before she laughed. She then schooled him on the different kinds of spatulas and their use.spatulas

 

My guess was the most practical, “I think the surprise is Ol’ Blue, Paps old truck. He said he wanted to buy a new one soon.”

Mom smiled. She liked that idea. Her and I helped Paps wash, wax and work on Ol’ Blue since I was big enough to hold a sponge.  It was a classic that he drove only on special occasions or for hauling. Ever since I’ve known Mom, she’s wanted Ol’ Blue.  I hoped she got it too, because I wanted Ol’ Blue after her.

Honk. Honk.

We all knew that sound. Nana and Paps were here!

And they were pulling a covered trailer behind them.

“Is the puppy in there?” Leesa asked, pointing to the trailer.

“It’s too big for a puppy. But not for a T-Rex!” said Drew.

Since they brought a rented trailer, I was now sure my guess was wrong. Maybe it was a baby T-Rex.

Nana scooped Leesa up as soon as she got out of the truck.

“Where’s my puppy?” Leesa asked.

“You already have two dogs,” Nana said. Leesa stuck her tongue out at me. It’s not my fault, Nana and I think alike.

“Is the T-rex in there?” Drew grabbed Paps hand.

“It could be a T-Rex,” Paps said. “But what if that toothy dinosaur tries to eat my grandkids?” He chased Drew and Leesa around the yard.

“How about we eat lunch first and then we can see what’s in that trailer,” Mom said.

 

After lunch, we gathered outside by the Ol’ Blue. Nana pulled a skinny, long package out from under the seat. She handed it to Dad.

A shiny wide metal spatula with a long handle greeted him as he opened it.

“Perfect for flipping pancakes,” Nana said.

“The handle is a little long to be used on the stove.” Mom said.

“Follow me,” Paps said.

We followed him to the trailer. Once opened we could all see a short space with a blanket covering.

“Pull off the blanket,” Paps said to my Dad.

“Presto!” Dad said, uncovering the loot.

“Yippee!!! Can we play on them?” Drew begged.

“Do they bite?” Leesa asked.

“Now I know why I need that long spatula!” A spiffy gas grill caught Dad’s eye.

“Help us get these out Amy,” Paps said to me.

I helped him, Nana, Dad and Mom unload the rest into the backyard by the see-saw.

Mom had to stop Leesa and Drew from climbing on their new Doggy and T-rex spring riders.

“Not until Paps and your father bolt them down,” she said, laughing.

I helped Mom and Nana place the grill.

“Open it,” Nana said.

Mom opened it and shrieked. “It’s my favorite spatula and one of your favorite cookbooks!”

Nana had given Mom one of her old spatulas that she said were tried and true.

“Since Darin melted the original one I gave you, knew you could use another. And I have the recipes in that book, memorized. Thought you could use it now that Amy is learning to cook,” Nana said as she winked at me.

I smiled at her. I liked cooking but I wasn’t as fanatical about as Mom and Dad were. Seemed like everyone got something they really longed for. Except me. I was too big to ride on the spring riders and as I stated, I really wasn’t much into cooking. But the spring riders would keep Drew and Leesa out of my hair for longer times.

I looked at the trailer. It seemed like too big a trailer to hold just a grill and two spring bouncers.

“Why didn’t you just put the grill and the bouncers in the back of Ol’Blue?”

Mom nodded in agreement.

Nana said, “Ask your Paps?”

So I did.

Paps told us all to follow him back tot he trailer. What we didn’t see at first, he showed us; the wall had a handle at the top and he pulled it down.

Inside was a shiny black, new car.

“She’s a beauty!” Dad said.

“Is this another surprise for us?” I asked, confused.

“Nope, this is,” Paps said as he threw Mom a set of keys. “Drive the car out please.”

Mom carefully drove the car out of the trailer and parked it next to Ol’ Blue.

As she opened the door to get out, Paps said, “Leave the keys in but pull out what’s under the driver seat.”

Mom felt under the driver seat and held up another set of keys. “These are the other set of keys to Ol’ Blue.”

“Yup. I figure you’re going to need them in about three years.”

My eyes grew big as saucers. I was only three years away from getting my driver’s license.

“Dad?” Mom questioned Paps.

“I’m giving you Ol’ Blue. We’ve been wanting a sports car for years to travel in and I know how much you and Amy love Ol’ Blue. It’s time Ol’ Blue earned her keep and was used.” He threw the other set of keys to Mom. “All you have to do is sign the papers for it and she’s all yours and Amys’.”

Mom and I gave Paps and Nana a huge hug and thanked them.

“There’s only one catch,” Paps said. “You have to take the trailer back for me. That little hotrod can’t pull it.”

“Deal,” Mom said.

“SURPRISE!” Nana shouted.

Best surprise ever!

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘OUTPOURING OF LETTERS TO THE EDITOR SAVES FINDLEY FOREST’

outpouring – noun 

[out-pawr-ing, -pohr-]

1 : an act of expressing an emotion or feeling in a very powerful way — often + of

2 : a large amount of something that is given or received in a short period of time — often + of                                   

 

Holly was sad. Her letter to Santa was returned without a postmark on it.  It was wrinkled, and mangled, with paw prints all over it. The paw prints confused her but she was pretty sure her big brother Logan, had taken the letter out of the mailbox before the mailman came.

Christmas was less than a week away. Even if she mailed the letter today, Santa would never get it in time. Her only choice was to write her letter in the snow and hope Santa would see it early enough Christmas Eve.

Outside in an open space between their front yard and Findley Forest, Holly roped off a large rectangle  in the snow. She took her mother’s holly garland off the deck and the front porch for the border of the message. Inside the rectangle, she smoothed the snow with her sled, making a blank plot to write in. Her message was simple:

Dear Santa white

 

“Whatcha doing Holly?” Logan sauntered up to the carefully plotted message.

“Go away Logan!” Holly said. “You stole my letter to Santa out of the mailbox and gave it to the neighbors cat.” She refused to look at him, tears ready to spill over.

“What? I did not!” Logan’s face turned pink. “Why would I give it to the neighbor’s cat? That doesn’t make sense.”

“So you did take it!” Holly stood up, indignant.

“No. I didn’t. And if you’re going to accuse me of stealing, I won’t ask you to go sledding.” Logan turned toward home.

Holly sighed. Maybe Logan didn’t take my letter, she thought.

“You really didn’t take it?”

“No.”

“I’m sorry. My letter came back today and it looked like this.” She showed him the still sealed letter.

“That’s weird. So what are you going to do now?” Logan asked.

Holly opened her arms wide revealing her finished message.

“I hope Santa gets here first on
Christmas Eve, so he sees it in time,” Logan said.

“Me too. Can I still go sledding?”

 

On December 21st, Holly awoke with a great idea! She gathered the cranberry Christmas garland off the Christmas tree, bundled up and ran out into the windy morning to add to her Santa message.

“OH NO!” Holly cried. Her message to Santa was gone. The wind had blown snow across it. She tried to write the message again but the wind kept filling in her letters. She ran into the house, and smacked into Logan, tears streaming down her face.

“What’s wrong Holly?” he asked.

Holly explained.

“I can help.” Logan bundled up, grabbed a bucket of water and said, “Follow me.”

“As I pour water into the snow, write your message, the snow will be stickier and the wind can’t blow it away as you write it.”

Holly agreed. Logan poured, Holly wrote. Every few letters, Logan ran back to the house for more water. Each time, Holly cleared the snow out of her letters that the wind had blown in.

When she was finished writing, she helped him mound up snow around each letter.

Dear Santa blue

Satisfied with their work, Holly ran into the house to get her forgotten cranberries.

“What are you doing with those young lady?” her mother asked.

Holly explained.

Her mother smiled, “Go ahead then.”

She gave Logan some cranberries and instructed him to place them in the letters to help the letters stand out more.

When they finished, they helped their mother bake cookies inside.

While Holly and Logan were cutting out cookies, their mother snuck away to tell their father about the snowy message.

 

Bright and early on Christmas Eve, Holly and Logan bundled up and ran outside to check on their message to Santa.

“Oh no!” they cried. The letters were trounced upon, no longer letters and the cranberries were all missing. Various animal tracks littered the snowy rectangle, leading back to the forest.

“What are we going to do now, Logan?” Holly asked. She couldn’t be angry with the animals because she knew they only wanted the cranberries to eat. The animals had no way of knowing that they were trying to save the animals’ home.

“Well we don’t have any more cranberries, but we can rewrite the message.”

But the snow had turned icy.

“I’m sorry Holly.” Logan led her into the house.

Hot chocolate chip waffles waited for them in the kitchen.

“Why the long faces?” their mother asked.

Holly explained and concluded, “It’s no use. Santa will never know what I truly want for Christmas and the forest will be cut down to make wood.”

“Finish eating and meet your father and me in the garage. But bundle up first,” their mother said.

They met their parents in the garage. Their father was holding his paint gun, their mother, a rake and a large bag of corn which she handed to Logan.

“Follow us,” their father said.

He led them to their special message spot.

“The holly garland looks good out here,” their mother said, smiling. “I’ll rake, Logan you smooth the snow, and Holly, you tell your Dad, slowly, what to write.”

Each family member did as instructed. When they were finished, the message said:

Dear Santa Red

“We have more to do,” said their father. “We’ll make corn mounds near the forest for the animals to eat so they stay away from this message.”

 

On Christmas morning, a thunk hit their front door. It was a special newspaper edition. The front headline read,

outpouring

Below it was a photo with this caption: Dear Santa blue

 

 

 

 

Local children have a message for Santa                                                                                                 and it’s not about gifts for them.

 

The article went on to say that the editor received so many letters and phone calls about saving Findley Forest, the day after the photo originally printed December 22, that she had no choice but to take the letters to the Mayor and forward all calls to the Mayor. Not wanting to risk losing the next election, the Mayor rescinded the agreement with a logging company to cut down Findley Forest, bit by bit.

“Look at this!” Logan showed his family the last photo on the front page. Too excited to bundle up, they rushed outside to see for themselves.

Surrounding their message to Santa were animal prints and a large mound of corn.

Holly beamed, shivered, and shouted out to the animals, “MERRY CHRISTMAS!”

The End

 

This Christmas story is my Christmas gift to you. I hope you enjoyed reading it.

Merry Christmas

Traci

 

2017 CWW Contests Entries Accepted For 6 More Weeks

ENTRY PERIOD FOR COUNCIL FOR WISCONSIN WRITERS CONTESTS CLOSES ON JAN. 31, 2018 

We’re halfway there!
Wisconsin writers have six more weeks to submit their work in seven categories published in the 2017 calendar year. The entry period, which opened on Nov. 1, 2017, closes at midnight on Jan. 31, 2018. Awards will be presented in May in the categories of book-length fictionnonfiction and poetryshort fiction and nonfiction; a set of five poems two of which must have been published in the contest year, and children’s literature.
First-place winners receive $500 and a one-week writer’s residency at Shake Rag Alley in Mineral Point, WI. Honorable mention recipients receive $50 and a one-week writer’s residency at the Painted Forest Study Center in Valton, WI.
Entries for this year’s Wisconsin Writers Awards must be postmarked no later than Jan. 31, 2018. Authors who enter must be current Wisconsin residents.
The entry fee is $25. Membership in CWW is not required, but members are entitled to one free entry. Out-of-state judges will make the selections. Awards will be presented at a banquet in May 2018 at the Wisconsin Club in Milwaukee. The Christopher Latham Sholes Award for 2017 will also be presented at the banquet. That award, which includes a prize of $500, is named for Christopher Latham Sholes (1819–1890), a Wisconsinite who is credited with inventing the first practical typewriter, and honors an individual or organization for outstanding encouragement of Wisconsin writers.
CWW also sponsors an Essay Award for Young Writers (1,500 word maximum) for Wisconsin high school students; there is no entry fee. The award is $250 for the winning student. Members of the board will judge. Entries for the student essay contest must be postmarked no later than Jan. 31, 2018.
Specific guidelines, entry forms, and important additional information for each award category are available in the 2017 Entry Forms section of the  CWW website, wiswriters.org.
[This is posted on behalf of Jerrianne Hayslett.]

ABC’S OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD

With Middle Grade Author, Sandy Brehl 

Friday, December 15, 2017

The ABC song is one of the first fun songs we teach our children to sing. Why? Because the alphabet is the backbone for learning to read and write. For some people, reading and writing is not fun at all. 

My new series, ABC’S OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD offers a new way to have fun with the alphabet. Every week, a children’s author, illustrator, literary agent or editor will 2-200x300share their ‘top of the head’ answers to the ABC category list they were given, A to Z. Following their answers, I ask a few questions to gain a little insight into their world.

Feel free to play along, maybe your answer off the top of your head will match theirs. Enjoy!

Today, children’s fiction author of the middle grade historical trilogy about the first year of German occupation of Norway in WWII as seen through the eyes of a young girl, is Sandy Brehl!!!

odins promise BjornsGiftFrontCoverFinal2.indd mari's hope

Below is Sandy’s category list from A – Z and her answers off the top of her head. 

[Message From Sandy: An advance warning: a knowledgeable professional once said I was a wildly divergent thinker, and I interpreted that as having too many favorites in life…]

APPLIANCE:  heavy duty mixer

BAND INSTRUMENT:  (hard to march with a piano- I was drill team!)

COLOR:  denim

DAY OF WEEK:  Thursday

EVERY CHILD: is gifted, challenged, and could be yours. Treat them all that way.

FUNNY WORD:  strumpet

GAME:  Jeopardy, especially kid-made versions

HISTORICAL FIGURE:  Martin Luther King, Jr.

INSECT: cricket

JAMMING SONG:  Most 60’s music

KNOW HOW TO:  feed an injured hummingbird

LAUGH (WHAT MAKES YOU):  Kids and word play

MOST LIKELY TO:  be ambivalent (I tend toward “yes, but”)

NON-FICTION BOOK:   Adult/ EVICTED: POVERTY AND PROFIT IN THE AMERICAN CITY; Kids/ FLOODWATERS AND FLAMES: THE 1913 DISASTER IN DAYTON, OHIO 

OUTDOOR ACTIVITY:  Gardening

PLAY:  Soccer with my dog

‘Q’ WORD:  Quisling

RHYMING WORDS:  cerise and chemise

SYNONYM FOR GREAT:  bodacious

TRANSPORTATION:  walking

UNUSUAL ANIMAL:  platypus        

VILLAIN:  Goatman

WISH:  Superpower:  ability to control time

X WORD:   Xerox

YELLOW (SOMETHING):  sundrops (common name for evening primrose)

ZANIEST THING YOU’VE DONE:  zero- I don’t do zany well (see M above)

ME:  Sandy, you have bodacious timing with your word choices. Meaning, while reading your category followed by each answer, the process that went through your mind as you answered, is shown (of course your advance warning played a part). Speaking of time, your wish for a superpower is fantastic! What would be your first order of operation if you could control time and why?

SB:  My students loved exploring potential “superpowers” and this was always my choice. It was especially true as education became so time-and-testing accountable. I wanted to “stop the clock” so we could pursue creative and curious questions, but then resume the “required” work with time reset for us all. I especially would have used the power to provide more recess time, more often. Play is a superpower in itself.

Currently, my time superpower would relate to writing. It would work like this: when doing something engaging, I could continue until choosing to stop, then reset time back to the point I need it to be. I have no doubt that writing, researching, and anything I enjoy would be even more satisfying and fun if I didn‘t have a nagging voice in the back of my head reminding me of other things I should be doing or when I’ll have to stop. 

Alternately, when anything miserable or stressful is happening, I’d fast-forward the experience. I’m not so concerned with eliminating negatives in life, but I’d love to be able to “get through” hard times, especially for those I love, as quickly as possible and move on with life.

At the time I’m writing these answers, I’d launch my annual holiday cookie-baking project and then reset time to the present, with everything baked, packed, and ready to deliver! (See pix) 

ME:  Those cookies look delicious. I think you need Hermione Granger’s time turner!

I have to ask, what was your drill team like? Was it military, high school, college? And, true, carrying a piano while marching would be difficult so I am trying to figure out if you played the piano at the end of the field, for the drill team. Can you give us some insight?

SB: It was a precision-formations team, and our coach was a former marine drill sergeant. I participated three years in high school and one year at Marquette when they were trying to get a unit started. 

ME:   Gotcha! And now, Marquette’s drill team is still going strong.

Do you have a photo of you and your dog playing soccer? Does your dog use his nose to push the soccer ball to you or his paws? kaffefootball.3. copy (1)

SB:  My twelve year old Sheltie has been slowed by arthritis, but he still wants to play several times each day. He uses paws, body blocking and nose. He’s got great moves, even now. He’s best in goalie position, guarding that ball for all he’s worth, which doesn’t require as much running. 

ME:   He is adorable! Bless his heart for not giving into age. We can learn a lot from him. 😊 I bet he loves being by your gardens as well! It’s apparent you enjoy gardening. Sundrops are beautiful! And hummingbirds love to visit them in wee hours of sundropsmorning before the flowers close for the day. Was it near the sundrops that you found an injured hummingbird that you nursed back to health? Please tell us about that experience.

SB: Good hypothesis, Traci, but the two don’t really connect. Sundrops are great at spreading, so I have expanses of them in various parts of the yard. Their resilience and indomitable cheeriness feels like I’m surrounded by happy face emojis when they are in season.

The hummingbird story comes from the years (long ago) when I was state and federally licensed to rescue and rehabilitate Wisconsin and migratory birds and mammals. 

I got a call about an injured hummingbird and hurried to retrieve it, (not very optimistic). It was crouched on the sidewalk during a summer storm, not even able to stand. That meant it was likely a back or brain injury, although it could have hummerbeen the result of pesticide poisoning.  

Recovery for hummers is challenging, requiring hand-feeding, special feather care, bathing, and perching arrangements, with long periods of exercise. Here in the Midwest, rehabbers are less likely to work with hummers, although California and SW states encounter hummers in danger much more often than we do here.  [This photo of a juvenile female Anna’s hummer is similar to how Sandy handled the ruby-throated hummingbird she found and rehabbed. Photo credit: https://www.victoriaadvocate.com/news/2011/aug/04/hg_paul_mary_meredith_080511_147536/%5D 

The happy ending to my summer-long story is that Hummer eventually regained full strength and health, rehabilitating throughout August in a large outdoor enclosure. After releasing to the wild, he continued to feed in my yard with other hummers for a few weeks before they gradually migrated in September. 

Anyone who is intrigued by this little anecdote should read FASTEST THINGS ON WINGS: Rescuing Hummingbirds in Hollywood, by Terry Manear. I reviewed it on Goodreads, here:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22749877-fastest-things-on-wings?from_search=true

I could have listed it as a favorite nonfiction in the alphabet above.

ME:   Wow! I didn’t know you were a wildlife rescuer and rehabilitator. I am in awe of you. And yes, the book, you mention is fantastic! Thank you for recommending it to me. Hummingbirds are my favorites.

Going from sweet little beings to naughty ones. You wrote Goatman as your villain answer. Goatman was the main villain in your trilogy. What can you tell us about him?

SB: Goatman was a necessary evil, actually.

The overwhelming enemy in my trilogy is the threat to Mari and her family, village, and country, a threat posed by Hitler and World War II. But in a great story the antagonist needs to be more personal, more immediate, and more able to be directly confronted than a broad concept can provide. 

In Odin’s Promise, Mari is threatened by the sudden invasion of her previously safe homeland. In that first year, when she is only eleven, she faces the greatest danger from a pair of patrolling soldiers, nicknamed The Rat and Scarecrow. In that book and onward I was intentional about portraying soldiers as individuals, as having separate identities and motivations. Part of Mari’s journey in that first book is her growing awareness of that truth. She learned to guard her words, her trust, and her actions, even among presumed friends. 

In the second book, Bjorn’s Gift, Mari interacts with one of those lifelong friends on a daily basis, one who not only poses a danger to her but also becomes a puzzle to be solved. 

In the final book, Mari’s Hope, three long years of war remain, much of it an endurance test with increasing hardships. My challenge in that book was to find ways to turn a long slog into a dramatic story, one with an immediate threat to Mari and her village. One with an personal and ever-present antagonist.

That is the German soldier, Goatman. 

Among the many ways locals resisted the Germans and their propaganda campaign of friendship was to mock the occupiers behind their backs, including assigning derogatory nicknames. Even so, I was determined to portray this necessary threat as an individual. He is despicable, but is also flawed. It’s giving nothing away to say that he is an alcoholic, which accounts for many of his actions. I wanted to be sure that young readers could sort out the all-encompassing evil of German policies and actions from the additional threats of an individual soldier living right next door to Mari. 

ME:   Mari is a wonderful role model. I fell right into the trilogy from the start of Odin’s Promise and…I learned a lot! I also learn quite a bit from the game show JEOPARDY which is your game answer. If you were asked to be on the game show, JEOPARDY and could choose between the adult version or kids version, which would you choose? For me, it would be the kids’ version, which I would still stink at.

SB: Oh, easy-peasy. The kids’ version, of course. As I watch the televised version I’m often astounded at how many of the questions could be answered by my elementary students. jeopardyI maintained an open door policy in my classrooms, inviting volunteers and encouraging special support staff to work in the room with us rather than remove individuals to a hallway. I couldn’t begin to count how often the adults would comment on learning things they never knew before.

Kids loved hearing that, and also quizzing the adults! It was fun to see how well kids eventually developed those descriptive statements, ones that included critical information and could have only one correct response- in the form of a question, of course..

That’s not as easy as you might think.

ME:   That format does not sound easy to me at all. It is learned skill. Your students are lucky to have a teacher like you!

The 60’s were a turbulent time in our history. Since you wrote Mari’s trilogy, are you by chance working on more historical fiction? And, just for fun, if you were to write a synopsis using answers from your category sheet, what would the story be about?

SB: I have story ideas from the 60’s, and from other earlier eras. Some come from personal experience, from stories I hear, or from great books I read. For those interested in stories set in the sixties, I recommend Gayle Rosengren’s COLD WAR ON MAPLEWOOD STREET (Cuban Missile Crisis).

I didn’t intend to write more about Norway. And yet… I have several works in progress with that setting, including picture books and a novel in verse. 

I didn’t set out to write historical novels, but I did want to share stories (and some amazing research) about the courageous people in a corner of Norway. The personal stories I heard while there were completely surprising to me.  Even so, I expected to tell those stories in that debut book, ODIN’S PROMISE, which involves only the first year of the German occupation.

But readers insisted on a sequel. That led to more research, to collecting more anecdotes, and eventually I wrote a two-part sequel. The second book involves the next eighteen months in which the German claim of protective friendship falls away, replaced by threats and severe new laws. It was during that time period when all but a few lucky escapees of the small Jewish population in Norway were deported to the concentration camps in Germany, from which few returned. 

Using that background and what I’ve indicated earlier, here’s the best I can do for an ABC synopsis of Mari’s Hope: (only 8 words from the list) 

In the final years of World War II, Mari walks a treacherous line as a doctor’s helper and participant in local resistance activities, putting her in heavy-duty jeopardy. She travels beyond the district borders, meets a young girl in need of friendship and advice, and survives a disaster in Bergen, Instead of playing soccer or romping with her dog, Mari must face a friend’s betrayal as well as the snooping and threats of German soldier, Goatman. Even when her hopes waver, Mari has no ambivalence about standing up for her family and for Norway.

ME:   That is an excellent synopsis Sandy! I actually find that I have learned more from reading historical fiction than I do reading straight up non-fiction history. You still have to base your fictional stories on fact to lend credibility to the story. And you have a wonderful knack for it.

Thank you, Sandy, for being a contestant today!

Readers, thank you for stopping by! You can learn more about Sandy and her books here:

https://www.sandybrehl.com/

And you can follow her on social media at:

https://www.facebook.com/sandy.brehl

https://twitter.com/PBWorkshop

https://twitter.com/sandybrehl

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7831795.Sandy_Brehl

Have a fantastic weekend everyone! Cheers to making it count. 🙂 

Traci

 

FLUFFY

[Word of the day stories are prompted by a Word of the Day selection by any of the online dictionaries. Once a word is chosen, I set my timer to write and edit a story in one hour, no more time than that. The idea behind this is to promote just getting the ideas written as that is the biggest hurdle for most writers.]

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

sustain – verb

suh-stayn

  1.   to provide with nourishment
  2.   keep up, prolong
  3.   to support the weight of; prop; to carry or withstand
  4.   to buoy up
  5.   suffer, undergo
  6.   to support as true, legal, or just
  7.   to allow or admit as valid

 

Archie gathered the white fluffy stuff into a mound. The more he tried shaping it into a ball, the more the white fluffy stuff spread out. It was no use. No snowman today.

The next morning, fresh new fluffy stuff piled on top of the old. Archie called his friends.

“New snow! Come over and help me make the biggest snowman ever. With this much snow, we can build a whole family!”

Archie’s friends, Barb and Gloria, rushed right over, decked out in winter attire.

“This is his bottom half.” Archie pointed to a low mound of snow.

“Where?” Barb asked.

“Did he melt?” Gloria asked.

Archie squinted his eyes. Only one thing to do, try again.

“Good point. Let’s build a new bottom.”

Together they rolled, they patted, they pushed, and they smooshed.

They shoved and their big ball of snow fell apart.

Huh.

Gloria was the first to say it. “It’s too fluffy.”

Then Barb, “Won’t stick.”

Finally Archie, “We need to nourish the snow with more moisture.”

“Huh?” said Gloria.

“We need water,” Barb said.

“Oh.”

Out of the shed, they each grabbed a bucket, filled it with water, and doused the snow pile.

Quickly they patted and smooshed but the snow turned into ice. They heaped fluffy snow on top and tried to form a ball but no use. The ice was not sticky, just hard.

They gave up and made snow angels.

The sun peeked out, warmed the tree branches and sent droplets of water on top of the kids.

“That’s it! The sun will melt the snow and then we will have enough moisture for the snow to stick together,” said Archie.

Barb and Gloria agreed. They waited, then rolled.

Not sticky enough.

They waited some more, then rolled.

Still not sticky enough.

They waited until dusk, then rolled and rolled and rolled.

Finally, they had a big ball of snow.

“Tomorrow we can finish the rest,” Archie said.

The temperature dropped overnight.

Barb and Gloria arrived the next morning, holding a bag of accessories for their snowman, ready to work. Archie met them outside.

“This won’t take as long. Let’s roll.”

Barb gathered the snow but it had become fluffy again. She formed and the ball fell apart.

Gloria tried. She rolled a ball, patted it, added more snow and it fell apart.

Archie tried with the same results as Gloria.

They gave up and made snow angel after snow angel all over the yard. Tired, they flopped onto untouched snow under the tree and rested.

The sun was out and warmed the trees, sending more droplets of water to the kids below. They laughed as they caught droplets in their mouth.

“I think it’s ready for us to make the tummy of the snowman,” Archie said.

Together, they rolled, pushed and patted a smaller ball into shape.

They lifted the ball onto the bottom of their snowman.

Ooooof!

The smaller ball plopped right through the bigger one, creating a doughnut.

“What happened?” Gloria asked.

“The bottom ball did not have enough weight to sustain the weight of the smaller ball,” Barb explained.

“You sound like our teacher,” Gloria said.

“We need more water but in little bits.” said Barb.

That gave Archie an idea. He ran into his house and came back with a spray bottle.

“I’ll spray the bottom ball while you two shape it.”

“What about the snowman’s tummy?” Barb said.

“It can stay where it is. We’ll make a new one.” Archie answered.

Archie sprayed. Barb and Gloria shaped.

“I’ll test it,” Gloria said, plopping her behind right on top of the partial snowman. She didn’t sink in. “Now the tummy.”

Archie sprayed, Barb and Gloria rolled. Gloria sprayed, Archie and Barb rolled.

“Perfect!” they said in unison.

They lifted the snowman’s tummy into place. Time to make the head.

Barb sprayed, Gloria and Archie rolled.

“Perfect!”

They placed the head on top. It stayed put.

“Time to give him a face,” Barb said. Gloria took the accessories out of the bag.

Barb dug out holes for the charcoal eyes.

Gloria pushed the carrot in for the nose.

Archie smoothed a black shoelace across for a mouth.

“Perfect!” they said.

Until the carrot fell off.

Huh.

“The carrot is too long for the hole you made Gloria,” Archie said. “The hole can’t sustain the length of the carrot.”

Gloria smiled. She bit off the fat end of the carrot. And took another bite. Then just one more. She stuffed the carrot into the hole.

“Perfect!” she said. And it was.

“What should we name him?” Archie asked.

“Fluffy.”

“Perfect!” And Fluffy was.

 

Until a squirrel climbed up three days later and stole the carrot nose.

 

Thank you reader for stopping by today! I hope you enjoyed this short story. If you have written a short story in a 60 minute time frame, using this Word of the Day word, please feel free to share it in the comments. 

 

 

 

GORTOK GETS HIS WISH

furious – adjective 

[fyoo r-ee-uh s]

1 : very angry

2 a : very powerful or violent

   b : very active or fast
Long ago, the landfill in Titustown had filled up. The town agreed that they needed to do something better with the garbage than to fill up land with it because it would fill up too fast. The solution was to build a large incinerator that would burn the garbage that could not be recycled in one way or another. But the only land large enough to hold it, belonged to Gortok the Greedy, as the townspeople nicknamed him, and he refused to have that ugly incinerator on his property.
The only solution left for the town,  was pile all of the garbage on the only open lot in town that still belonged to it. Which was right next to Gortok the Greedy’s house.
Gortok wanted more than anything, for the mountain of garbage behind his house to disappear. He hated the sight of it and the smell was atrocious. The town had been using the lot as the dump for too long.
The mountain just grew…
and grew.
and grew.
And now, the smell was coming into his home.
So Gortok made a wish.
“Mother Nature,  please make the garbage go away.”
A few days later, Mother Nature granted his wish.
Whip!
Whoosh!
Whip!
The wind came from the outskirts of town and blew in with a fury.
Garbage from all over town rose up from the streets, the gutters, the lawns, everywhere, and landed on top of the mountain.
The town was clean. But Gortok the Greedy’s property smelled worse than before.
In a huff, Gortok walked to work. On the way, he unwrapped his granola bar, ate it then tossed his wrapper to the ground. He then he popped open his juice box.
Mother Nature was not happy. She sent the wind out once again.
Whip,
whish!
The wind picked up the tossed wrapper and whipped it at Gortok.
The wrapper hit him square in the face.
“Who threw that?” Gortok asked, expecting to find kids near. He grabbed the wrapper and whipped it to the ground again. He finished his juice and threw the plastic bottle as well.
Furious at Bartok’s behavior, Mother Nature once again sent wind out to do her bidding.
Whip,
whish,
whip!
This time the wind blew the bottle at Gortok, hitting his leg, and the wrapper hit his arm as he walked.
Gortok kicked the bottle and flung the wrapper.
“Enough!” he shouted, though no one was near to hear.
At the factory, a newspaper flew through the air, landing against the door Gortok was opening.  He threw it onto the walkway and went inside.
Mother Nature decided she had had enough herself. She told wind what to do and wind got right to it.
Whip!
Whoosh!
Whish!
It was quite late when Gortok left work. He was half asleep as he walked home and fell exhausted into his open doorway.
In the morning, a cool breeze woke Gortok up. He noticed the sweet smell coming in from the open doorway.
“This is unusual.”  He shuffled around his property. His jaw dropped open at the sight of the lot behind his house. The mountain had disappeared! Mother Nature had granted his wish. He did his happy dance, jigging and jagging around his lawn.
That day, Gortok whistled as he walked to work, saying hello to his factory workers as they walked past, plugging their nose. [He should have been more concerned as to why they were not on the job.] 
Around the corner, he found out why.
The mountain of garbage now covered his entire factory.
He was bewildered until he remembered his wish.
Gortok made his way through the garbage, into the factory and got right on the phone.
The headline on the next newspaper read,
‘GORTOK FACTORY BEGINS INCINERATOR PROJECT NEXT WEEK.’
The opening sentence of the article said,
‘Gortok Industries to start making incinerators for home use after finishing a large scale incinerator for the town’s garbage which will be built right on Gortok property.’
Mother Nature did not help Gortok with the garbage this time.
Gortok cleaned up the mess himself.

ABC’S OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD

With Author/Illustrator Vanessa Brantley-Newton

nessayellow5 (1)

The ABC song is one of the first fun songs we teach our children to sing. Why? Because the alphabet is the backbone for learning to read and write. For some people, reading and writing is not fun at all. Which is why I came up with my ABC game. My new series, ABC’S OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD offers a new way to have fun with the alphabet. Every week, a children’s author, illustrator, literary agent or editor will share their ‘Top of the head’ answers to the ABC category list they were given, A to Z. Following their answers, I ask a few questions to gain a little insight into their world.

Feel free to play along, maybe your answer off the top of your head will match theirs. Enjoy!

Our ABC game contestant today is Vanessa Brantley-Newton, author and illustrator of dont let auntie mabel and let freedom sing and also illustrator of numerous picture books and chapter books  the youngest marcherone lovethanksgiving for emily annthink bigthe hula-hoopin queenmagic trash  ruby 1

mary had a little glam

ready to read    to show a few.

Below is Vanessa’s list of categories from A – Z along with her answers.

ANTONYM FOR AWFUL:  Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

BEST SONG EVER:  Feeling Good

CARTOON CHARACTER:  Bugs Bunny

DAY OF WEEK:  Friday

ENDANGERED SPECIES:  Tiger

FRUIT:  Grapes

GOD OR GODDESS (NAME A):  Venus

HAPPINESS IS:  being loved

ICE CREAM FLAVOR:  Chocolate

JEWEL:  Ethiopian Opal

KINDNESS…:  Is a must

LAUGH (WHAT MAKES YOU):  Stories told by my favorite Comedian Arnez J

MUSICAL:  Daddy Long Legs

NAME THAT STARTS WITH ’N’:  Natasha

ONOMATOPOEIA WORD:  Hooty Hoot

PIRATE NAME:   Black Jack Shellac

QUIET PLACE:   Old country house

ROCK:   River

SEASON:  Fall

TREE:  Cedar

UNUSUAL COLOR:   Magenta  

VERB (ACTIVE):   Leap

WALRUSES…:   Rock

X NAME:  Xena

YOUNG ADULT BOOK:  Solo

ZODIAC SIGN:  Libra

ME: Welcome Vanessa! Wow! As I read your Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious category sheet, I answered them off the top of my head too and we had three in common: Friday (I love Fridays!), Venus, and cedar. I am envious I did not think of Bugs Bunny though. Is he one of your favorites and if so, why?

VBN:  Oh my gosh is one of the very first cartoon characters that I would fall in love with! I love the antics and the comedy of him. 

ME:  Bugs is the coolest! Speaking of cool, I’ve heard you sing; you have a beautiful voice. It’s uplifting and soulful. Makes sense you chose FEELING GOOD as the best song ever. But there are a few songs with that same title. Which one is the song for your answer? When did it become the best song ever for you?

VBN: Feeling Good by Nina Simone! I first heard this song many years ago. It was something about the way Nina sang it. It was a song of course, but poetry at the same time and even after that is was a story for me. It created word pictures for me. It speaks to my soul as an artist. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXqKswtX_KU

ME:   I understand why! That song resonates loving life. Makes sense why that’s the best song ever for you since your love for life shines through you and your illustrations as well as your love for uplifting music too. I’ve heard you sing…you are wonderful! You fill your audience with joy. 

I cannot place the musical DADDY LONG LEGS, but the title suggests it could be about a dancer, a basketball player, a musician, or an arachnid…will you tell us about it?

VBN: I am a big fan of musicals and this one has two of my favorite actor/ dancers in it. Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron.

Daddy Long Legs is a stage musical based on the novel of the same name by Jean Webster. It was written by John Caird, with music and lyrics by Paul Gordon. Set in turn-of-the-century New England, the musical tells the story of orphan Jerusha Abbott of the John Grier Home and her mysterious benefactor who agrees to send her to college, who she dubs “Daddy Long Legs” after seeing his elongated shadow. Under the conditions of her benefactor, Jerusha sends him a letter once a month, describing her new-found experiences with life outside the orphanage.

ME:  I cannot believe I did not recognize that musical classic! Leslie and Fred were incredible! Like your ‘G’ and ‘H’ answers, that story is filled with love. I’ve read numerous picture books you have illustrated and in each one, love shines through your illustrations and you also infuse humor. I’m not sure you can share any of Arnez J’s stories, but maybe you can share one of your favorite stories with us that makes you laugh.

VBN: I come from a very religious background and so much stuff went down at church. First of all it was like going back into the 50’s when you walked in. It was filled with characters that I still remember! My mom use to make the most delicious Pineapple Upside-down cake this side of heaven! Oh my goodness, it was truly to fight and die for!! Okay, so the Pastors wife was a very spiritual woman and pious. I never saw her ever come out of her face at anyone, but this Sunday my mom had made her cake and brought it to the church social. Well, other members had brought their cakes too, but there was something magical, spiritual, almost life altering about this cake. Now, my moms’ cake was famous at our church and everyone always wanted seconds and third of this cake. The Pastor’s wife didn’t treat my mom the best and was a little smug when it came to my mom, but something would come over this poor woman when it came to my mother’s Pineapple Upside-down Cake!! The Pastor’s wife would sneak downstairs to the kitchen and tell the other women to hide my mother’s cake. It was my mom’s joy to see people eating that delicious cake! So mom comes down stairs to the church kitchen and see’s everyone else’s cake except hers and of course she went to investigating where the cake might have gone. These where church women mind you, so they didn’t want to lie, so no one answered. She asked again because there were people asking about it? “Where is Sister Shirley’s Pineapple Upside-Down? We’ve been waiting the whole service for it.” So my very bold mom rushes into the church kitchen to find her cake hide in the back of the fridge in somebody ‘s cake carrier with the Pastor’s wife’s name on it! I guess we all have weaknesses! LOL!

ME:  Wow! The poor Pastor’s wife was sick with jealousy over your mom’s delicious  cake. She must not have known the secret behind your mom’s cake was that it was made with love just like Mother Nature makes things. Such as the Ethiopian Opal. Is there a tidbit or story behind this answer? Could this tidbit or story have anything to do with Captain Jack Shellac? 😉

VBN: LOL!!! I just love Ethiopian Opal. The pinks and blues and greens are just beautiful. All the colors that I love all mixed into one beautiful opal. That is all I know. Nothing deep! Tee hee~! 

ME:   They have an ethereal quality. Somehow I think maybe someday, one will appear in one of your beautiful books. 😊 I am adding to my mustread list of books, and need to know if the SOLO book you named is the one written by Kwame Alexender?

VBN: YASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!! Magnificent Book!! Get it and read it. 

ME:   Yay, I was correct! I just added it to my list.

When I read ‘Walruses:… rock’, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious images floated through my mind. Like your newest books this year that I have not read yet… jada jones 1  a night out with mamaearly sunday morningsasha savvy loves to code I am leaping into the future here…what can you tell us about your current or upcoming projects? (am hoping a walrus appears in one of them soon.) Feel free to use art here to show us or text to tell us.

VBN: So, I really love relationship stories. Grandma and granddaughter situations because I spent a lot of summers with all of my grandparents and they were totally interesting to me!!! So I wrote a story about a little girl who is interested in what is in her Grandma’s Purse and so goes the name LOL!! I love all things retro, but as a child I didn’t see myself in children’s books in the 60’s, Not until Ezra Jack Keats came out with The Snowy Day. I also loved Madeline, but she never had a black friend and this saddened me deeply because I always thought that she and I could have been great friends. So, with the help of Nancy Paulsen and Random House Books I will be doing a book about the black Madeline so to speak. LOL! Her name is Jewels. I am very excited about this book! It will be done in pen and ink and I can’t wait to share it with the world. I haven’t worked on it yet, but I can share some images from Grandma’s Purse due out in Jan 2018! grandma's purse

gp1

Clone of Grand...B2B_tmp002

ME:   So glad you gave us a sneak peek into GRANDMA’S PURSE and your new black Madeline book! 

Thank you Vanessa for playing ABC’s OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD! This was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious fun! We can’t wait to enjoy your new books. 😊

To learn more about Vanessa and her or her books, you can find her at:

https://www.vanessabrantleynewton.com/

http://oohlaladesignstudio.blogspot.com/

 

Thank you Readers for stopping today. If you enjoyed this edition of ABC’’S OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD, please share it and leave a comment for Vanessa or me.

#justkeepcreating #justkeepcreating

Traci

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ort: A Perfect Mouseful

[dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster Learner’s Word of the Day selections; photo credit-Merriam-Webster Learner’s Word of the Day]

ort – noun

[awrt]

  1.   Usually, orts. a scrap or morsel of food left at a meal.

 

mischievous – adjective

[mis-chuh-vuh s]

  1.   causing or tending to cause annoyance or minor harm or damage

2.   showing a playful desire to cause trouble

      3.   intended to harm someone or someone’s reputation

 

Cat was angry at Mouse. Mouse was laughing at Cat because Mouse had just won his third game against Cat. Cat slunk off to figure out how to beat Mouse at Mouse’s games.

I have to slow down Mouse or trip him up somehow, Cat thought. Visions of glue, tape and food danced in his head. With the glue, Mouse was begging for help reaching out to be pulled from the glob of glue gumming up his paws. Cat shuddered at the thought. No glue.

Tape took over, tacking Mouse to it who was desperately trying to escape. Tape won’t work either. I don’t want to hurt my friend. 

While Cat was contemplating his next move, Mouse was mulling over how to help Cat win a game. A mischievous idea formed quickly.

Mouse made a maze in the middle of the yard. To help Cat win, he made Cat smiley faces on each turn leading the way out. Whoever got to the end of the maze first would win.

Tap, tap, tap.

Cat whirled around, surprised to see Mouse.

“I don’t want to play anymore of your games. I think we should play one of mine,” Cat said.

“Sure, but can we play one of yours after this last game of mine? I worked really hard at creating it,” Mouse said.

Cat’s whiskers twitched. “What’s the game?”

“I built a maze in the yard. Whoever gets to the end first wins and can choose the next three games to play.”

Cat shook his head. “Since you made the maze, you know how to go through it. That’s not fair.”

Mouse sighed. “You have a point, Cat. I will wear a blindfold to even us out.”

Cat thought about this. “We should each choose a winning treat for the other to place at the end of the maze. Whoever makes it through the maze and finishes their treat first, wins.”

“Deal.”

Together they scoured the house for the perfect treat.

Mouse found part of a tuna sandwich and carried it out.

Cat scoured the kitchen but there were no orts about, not even one crumb. All he could find was a small pink glob under the table. It was a little big for Mouse to eat but Cat planned on winning.

Treats in place, Cat and Mouse took their spots at the beginning of the maze. Cat was haunched in start position while Mouse was blindfolded and ready to go.

“Go!” Cat shouted.

Cat darted away turning this way that, into a dead end. “Drat!” He looked for Mouse. No Mouse around. He listened for Mouse. He could hear scurrying ahead of him.

Mouse twitched his nose letting him guide him to the end. He bumped into wall after wall but the strawberry smell was getting stronger.

Cat turned right, then followed straight. He turned left and left again into another dead end. He sat down and pouted. Doggone Mouse! He’s going to win. As a tear rolled into his whiskers, he noticed a smiley cat picture on the opposite wall. Oh sure, rub it in Mouse! 

Cat ran to the picture and scratched it out. He sulked through the maze scratching out each Cat Smiley he found. He was so busy looking for these smiling Cats, he didn’t realize what he had done.

I. Smell. Tuna! Cat’s nose twitched and his tail swished. He followed his nose right to the end of the maze. Mouse was already there, chewing and chewing.

Cat’s ears drooped. Mouse had won again.

“You won Mouse. But I’m going to enjoy this sandwich anyways.” He took a bite, then another.

Mouse said nothing but kept chewing away.

Cat finished his sandwich. “This was a great treat Mouse. Thank you.” Cat licked his paws.

Mouse just chewed.

“I said, ‘Thank you’ Mouse.” Cat stared at Mouse.

Mouse inhaled deeply.

As he breathed out, a bubble formed and grew and grew. Then…

POP!

Cat jumped straight into the air.

Mouse’s mouth still full he muttered, “Clever cat, giving me this ort. Not supposed to swallow gum. I lost.”

Cat blushed. “Mischievous mouse. Drawing those Smiley Cat faces to tease me. If I had seen those sooner I would have…Hey!”

“Won sooner,” Mouse said still chewing.

“You said a mouseful.” Cat laughed.

The next three games were Cat’s choice and he lost all but one.

 

THE END

If you enjoyed this story, take the challenge and write your own story in 60 minutes and edit it. The idea is to #justkeepwriting #justkeepwriting.

 

 

 

 

 

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