Writing Prompt: “A Strange Request at a Piano Bar”

I am taking a step outside of my comfort zone and doing some writing prompt exercises with a few friends. I came across this book called “Write the Story”  published by Piccadilly and thought it would be a good way to rejuvenate my writing as I work on book 3 of the “Another Lifetime” series (which, by the way, I am mid-way through ch. 5! It wasn’t exactly the easiest year, so I haven’t written much, sad to say. But that will change!)

The idea behind these prompts is that you must create a short story/scene using a series of words that are given to you. One word always seems to throw the cohesion of them askew, and one must think outside the box.

This is harder than it looks, and is–to me, anyhow–quite challenging. While the prompts themselves are not mine, the stories are, and I am hereby declaring them property that should not be reproduced or duplicated in any way without written consent from myself.

Getting the serious paragraph above out of the way, I encourage you all to try it for yourself! It’s super fun!


A Strange Request at a Piano Bar

carnival    sprained    mask    oxidation    awkward    apple     juvenile    controversy  twirl    sassafras

The man walked into the bar, clouds of smoke creating a lazy haze in the joint, the sounds of an out-of-tune ragtime piano coming from the back corner. He had just come from the carnival—the traveling circus was in town, and having never been to one, wanted to see what all the hype was about. It creeped him out more than anything. The carnies seemed to be another breed all to themselves, awkward representations of normal human beings who tried to lure the innocent into their world of psychics, bearded women, and money-sucking charlatans.

He shrugged off the shiver and continued towards the back of the bar.

Prohibition has turned this place into a juvenile soda shop.

He scowled.

The controversy of legalizing alcohol was basically a joke. Back rooms existed everywhere, and many times the government cronies themselves were found greasing the palm of a goodfella.

But tonight, he was not here for a drink.

As he made his way, he took in some of the details of the place: the brass light fixtures tarnished by oxidation, the worn wood of the tables and chairs, the mask of a smile that the waitress wore as a man pinched her bottom. Patrons sipped on sassafras as they played cards, their games more subdued without the usual libations.

It’s the same as all the others—uninteresting and spiritless.

A twinge ran through his wrist and he rubbed it almost unconsciously. He had sprained it a few weeks ago, a would-be-pick-pocket getting a nasty left hook instead of his wallet. It still ached on occasion, and part of him wondered if he should have gotten it looked at—especially since it had the capability of ruining his chances of finding her again if he could not utilize it.

His heart ached.

Twenty years ago she was taken from him.

She was skipping down the country road, a freshly picked apple in her hand. She stopped to twirl in the soft breeze with her head tilted back and eyes closed, not a care in the world. He wasn’t that far away—he knew she could still hear him playing “Hello Ma Baby” on his cornet from the porch. It was her favorite song, and she loved dancing and frolicking to it.

Out of nowhere came a horse and wagon moving about as fast as it could be. Before he could act, one of the two men in the wagon scooped up his little girl and rode off with her.

Having no horse himself, his attempt to chase after them was futile. One of his neighbors who did have a horse heard him scream and made to chase the kidnappers. But by that time, they were too far ahead, and he lost them as they entered the big city. The police were no help, either. They closed the case after a few weeks due to lack of evidence. So he took it upon himself to try and find her the only way he knew how—music.

Though she was little when she was taken from him, he had faith that perhaps one day she would hear him play and recognize her song. Almost every night he played in multiple bars, hoping that fate would reunite them.

Twenty years and nothing came of it. Not one sliver of hope that she was still alive. Part of him wanted to give up. He was tired and weary, and after tonight, he would just have to make peace with the fact that she would never come back.

He stopped in front of the piano and held up his cornet case.

“Mind if I join you on a tune?”

The piano man eyed him carefully. “Whattdya know?”

“Can you play ‘Hello Ma Baby’ in E-flat?”

“Mister, these folk don’t wanna hear songs that are over two decades old. They wanna hear the modern stuff. Know anything else?”

“Please. Just that song. It really means a lot to me.”

The pianist crossed his arms over his chest and frowned. “Tell ya what. I’ll play it if you give me your suspenders.”

“What? What kind of ridiculous thing…”

“Take it or leave it, pal. I can’t afford to buy another pair and these are pretty shot. Held up by pins, they are.”

Seeing as though he didn’t have much of a choice, he took his jacket off and undid his suspenders, handing them to the pianist. God help me if I lose my britches in the middle of playing.

“Okay then, you’ve got yourself a deal.”

He barely had enough time to take his cornet out of the case before the song began. But like every other time, he played his hear out, hoping that his daughter was there and remembered her song. It ended far too quickly though the song was played in its entirety, and once again it seemed like the chance to see her slipped through the hands of fate.

He was done.

After thanking the pianist, he packed his cornet, hiking up his pants a bit higher as they had slipped a bit.

“Excuse me, sir?”

He turned around and found himself face-to-face with a young lady, tears staining her cheeks.

 

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“Enzo’s Story” Official Release Date: July 7th!

It’s finally here! The official release date for Enzo’s Story will be THIS SATURDAY, July 7th! And to celebrate, I am offering the Kindle version of the first book, Another Lifetime, for only 99­¢ on Amazon from July 7th until July 14th!

Because I am super excited about this release, I am holding another cool promotion as well–you will also be able to get The Bard on Kindle for FREE from July 7th until July 11th! If you haven’t started this series yet, now would be a great time!

And as always, reviews are greatly appreciated–they take less than five minutes and are a great way to let other readers know your thoughts about the books!

Click on the image below to take you to the Kindle page–if you’ve read Another Lifetime and can’t wait to read Enzo’s Story, you can purchase the Kindle version now! (Remember, the paperback and other deals won’t be out until Saturday!)

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My First Author Visit

I was very blessed to be asked to be the featured author at our 8th grade author visit this year! I have never done one of these before, but I have seen other authors visit our school, so at least I had an inkling of what to do–though, since the students know me already, I also decided to turn it into a teaching moment and make it more about the writing process than simply a plug for my book.

Some people are more comfortable speaking in front of people they know, but for me, it’s the opposite. It’s as if the bar is already set, and if I don’t meet or exceed their expectations, then I have failed them.

I expected some kids to be inattentive and to laugh, or make goofy comments, because they would certainly see my quirky side, or just not appreciate this type of thing to begin with–after all, not everybody enjoys writing or listening to a band director talk about writing.

But they surprised me–it was silent. They were all attentive.

One teacher confessed to me later that a girl leaned over and asked her if I ever slept.

I had students come up and congratulate me, telling me what a great job I did. It felt weird, since it’s usually me telling them what a great job they did on things.

There was even a reception and book signing! Some kids made me a t-shirt that depicted Aria and Enzo in paintbrushes. There was a huge banner welcoming me with a drawn cover of my book with some of the students’ favorite quotes all around it.

They made me feel famous for that afternoon.

And they were talking about it the following day, too.

But the best thing of all? I had students–some I had, some I didn’t–come up to tell me that I had inspired them to go home and write. I may not be a best-selling author, but to hear them say that is worth more to me than any accolade I could ever receive.

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New Event! Tinley Park Public Library Local Authors Expo!

This Saturday, November 18!!!

Sat 11 AM · 7851 Timber Dr, Tinley Park, IL

The Tinley Park Public Library Local Authors Expo will be held in the library Meeting Room on the first floor. Myself and around 20 other local authors will have books for sale (and sign them!!) and you can feel free to engage in some lovely conversation! 🙂 I hope to see you there!!

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New Event–Author Reading this week!!

If you’re in the Plainfield area this Thursday evening, I will be doing a reading from The Bard at the Plainfield Public Library in the large meeting room (downstairs). The event runs from 7-8:30 pm, and you will get to hear authors read from one of their works and talk about their latest projects.

If you have not read The Bard Trilogy yet and want to hear a bit, this is the perfect chance to do so!

Perhaps…perhaps you might also hear a shameless plug for my latest series about Another Lifetime and it’s soon-to-be follow up book. 😉

Hope to see you there!

“Promptober” 10.07.17

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The party reached the edge of the forest, the darkness ahead of them seeming to swallow the world beyond the first few trees.
Alistair drew his sword, ready to take on any foes that were lying in wait. He took a step forward before he felt a hand reach out and grab his arm.
“Alistair, wait.”
He turned around. It was Leliana.
“What if…what if he’s there? Are you ready to face him?”
“Do I have much of a choice? If he has become the Guardian, then he must be stopped at all costs.”
“But is there not any other way?”
Alistair put his hand on her shoulder. “I am afraid not. Do I still have your support? If I should…”
Leliana stepped towards him, reaching up to caress his cheek. “I would do anything for you and you know that.”
He slid his hand down to her waist and pulled her to him, his plate mail preventing any sort of intimate embrace. He gave her a small smile, kissing the top of her forehead. “I know. Now let’s go.”
The party made their way into the forest, Alistair leading them well beyond the point of having the security of the clearing from where they entered within their line of sight.
Suddenly and without warning, a pair of red eyes appeared before them, and a creature stepped into view, a low growl emanating from its throat. The orb hung around its neck, the object of their quest.
At once, Alistair recognized the chainmail, the gauntlets, the faded mark of the Grey Warden upon his upper chest plate. He lowered his sword ever so slightly.
“Duncan? What has happened to you?”
The creature just growled, its face emaciated and shriveled, its teeth yellowed and pointed. Its hair was long and unruly, but the scar—the scar on its left eye was clearly visible.
This was indeed Duncan.
The creature raised its sword, swinging it at Alistair who had deflected the blow just in time.
“Duncan! It’s me—Alistair! I know you’re in there. We can get you help! Just give us the orb and come with us. We can find you a healer powerful enough to bring you back! We can—“
The creature swung at him again, this time with more force. Alistair grunted.
“Alistair—it’s no use. Kill it!” A fireball came from the hands of his mage.
The creature deflected it easily, now irritated. It roared, lifting its sword at the mage. In the nick of time, Alistair stepped in, knocking the mage out of the way, the two of them narrowly missing the blade.
“Leave them alone!” Alistair yelled. “Come for me. It’s me you want. Let’s see what you’ve got!”
Their swords clashed, Alistair managing to wound the creature in the arm. It howled, but came at him once more with an even greater vengeance.
Alistair at first did not notice Leliana disappear from the party, sneaking around to the back of the creature. Before it could strike again, she impaled it with a kidney strike, and Alistair locked eyes with her but for a moment before he ran it through with his sword.
The creature fell to the ground, dying. As its life was leaving him, its face changed back that of their beloved Grey Warden leader, Duncan.
His breath ragged, he turned his head towards Alistair and whispered, each word labored and painful. “Alistair…you must…the orb…”
“Duncan, no—don’t leave us! We can heal you!”
“Let me be. You have released me…go…save us all.”
“Duncan!”
Duncan breathed his last breath, and Leliana unclasped the orb from around his neck, handing it to Alistair. “You wouldn’t have been able to save him,” she said. “You did the right thing.”
Without a word, Alistair nodded sadly and began to head back towards the clearing, the others quick to follow.
Leliana took his hand as they walked, and he squeezed it tightly. He did not wish to lose anyone else close to him. They might have acquired the orb, but they had a long, long way to go.