Writing Prompt Wednesday 1/18/2017

There was a time where I would visit my father in the summer in a home that was surrounded by cornfields.

The house was old and rickety and it gave me creeps.

Choked with weeds and garbage, it reeked of poverty and in turn, a kid of social death I didn’t even want to fathom. He’d try in vain to invite kids from neighboring farms to visit but no one wanted to send their kids to his house. Who could blame them – the fear their child might get lost in a maze of abandoned appliances or somehow, worse, be murdered by the uneducated hoarder down the dusty road.

But he wasn’t a bad man. No matter how many teeth he’d let rot out of his face or how much he drank, he was a good man at heart.

A garbage man since he was sixteen when he dropped out of school, my father was not the most popular man in town. A recluse, wanting nothing more than to be left alone, he stuck his neck out to invite people over for me.

I didn’t get that until I was an adult.

The house, a faded yellow, nearly the color of the dead grass loomed strangely, crooked in its disrepair but not as large as it once had. The old man had never fixed anything inside or out. Feral cats used a broken basement window as their own gateway to the indoors, living in the lap of barn cat luxury. A dirt cellar I knew, with nothing but more garbage and castoffs he’d picked up at work.

“Got you this,” he’d say when I showed up that first day of summer. An old rusty bike that didn’t work or, as I got older, a weight bench with no weights.

Junk to my eyes.

Treasure to his.

Dozens of cars in desperate need of pulverizing stood sentry, waiting for the next king of the castle. They’d been there for years, waiting for whatever project he’d set them aside for. Certainly, none of them would ever run again. One of them had neither a hood nor an engine.

I used to wonder why my mom would ever let me stay here. Cursed her in fact, on more than one occasion. We didn’t live too far away and we certainly weren’t much farther up the economic food chain, but it wasn’t this.

When I was in the fifth grade I remember learning the word squalor in school and I thought, that’s where my father lives. In that house surrounded by cornfields. In squalor.
By the time I’d grown, I stopped visiting. It was too dirty and far too depressing to see a man dying a slow death in a filth he held dear.

More dear than he held me by far.

They were just things. Broken things that he loved.

I got the call that he’d passed while I was at work and I wasn’t sure how to react. We’d spoken just a few months before and he’d sounded old. He’d always been old. As long as I could remember he seemed old and weathered.

He’d been dead for at least a month, they told me. Natural causes as far as they could tell but he sat there, in that maze of relics, waiting to be found.

They condemned the house. In would be uninhabitable for all time. A complete tear down.
I was not surprised.

That house, hidden in the midst of the cornfields, would be no more.

#WpromptW

Writing Prompt Wednesday 1/11/12017

So, this week’s prompt was fun and challenging. It probably would have been more challenging if I’d set a genre to write in or a word count limit. But, I’m starting small and I want to make sure I can give myself something to stick to.

I wrote just a short blurb – I’m sure I could have written more or written an actual story around this, but I chose just to go with the short scene. I tend to write from a more character driven point of view.

I did challenge myself though by writing in the first person. I usually write in the third person. For some reason, and I’m not sure if people that write in first person have this problem, I have a VERY hard time keeping tenses consistent when writing in first person. So I found that I had to go back a few times and rewrite or rework things because I’d made a few errors.

I just chalked it up to the exercise working! The more practice I get, the better I’ll get at it!!

Enjoy!

****** ****** ******

I didn’t expect it to be so intimidating.

Stately, maybe. Impressive, sure. But intimidating?

I peered at the map in my hands and back up again. All I had to do was walk through the doors, take two lefts and a right.

I looked back at the Everything Library and shook my head. Did I really need to do this?
I knew people that came here all the time. My friend Maria came home a few weeks ago with a cookbook, a vintage dress and a man. She sent me a picture of herself dressed as June Cleaver, holding a casserole with her fake boyfriend by her side. She returned all three items two days later.

“It’s big, isn’t it?”

I turned to see a man about my age standing next to me, looking up at the Everything Library, just like I was.

“That’s what she said,” I mumbled.

He let out a laugh. “Was not expecting that.” His brown eyes smiled down at me as he asked, “What are you checking out?”

Immediately embarrassed and on guard, I said, “Just a book.”

He scoffed. “People borrowing books don’t have that look on their faces. Only people here to borrow people, look like that.”

He was right. I was there to borrow a person. But people aren’t things and I had a hard time wrapping my brain around the concept.

“You know they volunteer, right?”

I shrugged. “So they say.”

He nodded. “The mysterious ‘they’.”

Two lefts and a right. That’s all it was gonna take. Two lefts and right and I could get on with it.

“Wedding or funeral?” He asked.

I looked back up at him and he was staring at me like he thought he knew anything about me.

“Neither,” I told him.

He sighed. “Come on then.”

He reached out to grab my arm and I pull away.

“I’ve been on lunch,” he explained. “No one gets checked out until I get back.”

Oh God, he’s the people check out guy?

“I’ll help you fill out the forms,” he offered with a smile, like he was coaxing me up the stairs.

The sooner I went in, the sooner this would all be over.

Maybe that’s why I was hesitating.

I followed him into the cavernous entryway, past marble arches and gold plated plaques. It was like a museum inside. I’d expected to see stuff everywhere. It was the Everything Library after all so I thought I’d get to see everything. But the only things to look at were on display, as if they were treasures to be honored, not borrowed.

We took our two lefts and a right and it led us to a small window that almost looked like a ticket booth. My mystery, library worker reached through the window and grabbed a few sheets of paper and handed them to me.

“Just fill these out,” he instructed. “We’ll get you taken care of.”

I filled out the forms and handed them back, looking away as he read the application.

“A grandma, huh?” He asked.

I nodded as my eyes met his quickly and looked away again.

“I know the perfect grandma for the job. Hang on,” he said. He stepped through a door and closed it behind him.

He seemed nice enough. How did he sleep at night knowing that he basically rented out people all day, every day.

Although, the service was kind of saving my butt today, so I shouldn’t complain.

He came back about three minutes later with an older lady who looked about seventy. She was smiling sweetly at me like a grandma might do.

“How’s she?” The guy asked, his hands on her shoulders.

What was I supposed to say? She was standing there looking at me. What if I said she was too young or too skinny and I hurt her feelings?

“She’s fine,” I said truthfully, because, really, she would do.

“Good,” he smiled and then ripped off a piece of paper.

Was that receipt? A people receipt.

When he held it out to me, I couldn’t lift my hand to take it.

His brow furrowed. “You need to take the receipt so you can bring her back,” he tried to explain.

I held up my hands. “I can’t do this.” I cut my eyes to the grandma that wasn’t really mine. “I’m sorry. You’re great, I’m sure. But I can’t do this.”

“Oh, dear, of course you can,” the old woman smiled kindly. She glanced at the receipt and her eyes became sad. “Come, now. Take it and let’s go.”

The guy was watching me too, waiting to see what I was going to do.

Shakily, my hand opened and he put the paper inside of it.

“The return date is on the top of the receipt,” he told me.

“She’ll be back tonight,” I said firmly. I did not need the rented person hanging around. I just needed her for an hour. Tops.

He gave me a quick nod and a sympathetic smile.

“Let’s go see your mother, dear,” the old woman said to me.

I looked over at her. She was holding her arm out, bent at the elbow, just like a grandma might. Like I was supposed to take her arm and lead her.

I did as she wished, led her through the maze of hallways and left the Everything Library.

“How bad is she?” The woman asked.

“She won’t last another day,” I confessed. “She’s been crying for her mother for days.”

It was painful to watch as your own mother deteriorated in front of you, crying for her ‘mama’ as if she were a child.

“I didn’t know what else to do,” I shrugged.

The woman squeezed my hand. “That’s what the Everything Library is here for, dear.”

10 Romance Novels Bound to Make You Cry

As readers, we all want different things when we pick up a book. One day we might crave a heartwarming story about redemption while on another we might be looking for a mind boggling mystery.

Personally, I love a good cry and if a good book can get me there, I’m a happy girl.

For this list, I’m going to leave off the obvious choices. I know Nicholas Sparks is the top choice, but you already knew that. We’re trying to find some books maybe you’ve never heard of or weren’t sure were going to have you looking like you just ran over a puppy.

Here’s a list of 10 books that are bound to make you cry!

1.
The First Last Kiss Cover

The First Last Kiss is the story of Molly and Ryan. The first time Molly kissed Ryan, she knew they’d be together forever. Six years and thousands of kisses later she’s married to the man she loves. But today, when Ryan kisses her, Molly realizes how many of them she wasted because the future holds something which neither of them could have ever predicted.

***

The First Last Kiss is an absolute blubberfest, people. No joke. Three tissue boxes – minimum.

The First Last Kiss on Amazon

2.

The Girl You Left Behind is written by Jojo Moyes, the same author that brought you Me Before You, the sobfest that was made into a highly underrated movie last year.

Sophie Lefèvre must keep her family safe while her adored husband, Édouard, fights at the front. When their town falls to the Germans in the midst of World War I, Sophie is forced to serve them every evening at her hotel. From the moment the new Kommandant sets eyes on Sophie’s portrait—painted by her artist husband—a dangerous obsession is born, one that will lead Sophie to make a dark and terrible decision. Almost a century later, Sophie’s portrait hangs in the home of Liv Halston, a wedding gift from her young husband before his sudden death. After a chance encounter reveals the portrait’s true worth, a battle begins over its troubled history and Liv’s world is turned upside all over again.

*****

For me, this is a one box of tissues read but don’t let the low rating fool you. The story is so rich you’ll forget you’re even reading and need tissues.

The Girl You Left Behind on Amazon

3.

When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she doesn’t think it’s love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her.

Never ask about the past.
Don’t expect a future.

They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.

*****

The further into Miles’s past we get, the more tissues we need.

WARNING: There is physical heartache involved in this book – You will read and cry and clutch your fist to your chest.

A solid four boxes will do. Maybe

Ugly Love on Amazon

4.

One kiss lasts a moment. But a thousand kisses can last a lifetime. One boy. One girl. A bond that is forged in an instant and cherished for a decade. A bond that neither time nor distance can break. A bond that will last forever.

Or so they believe.

When seventeen-year-old Rune Kristiansen returns from his native Norway to the sleepy town of Blossom Grove, Georgia, where he befriended Poppy Litchfield as a child, he has just one thing on his mind. Why did the girl who was one half of his soul, who promised to wait faithfully for his return, cut him off without a word of explanation? Rune’s heart was broken two years ago when Poppy fell silent. When he discovers the truth, he finds that the greatest heartache is yet to come.

****

Read at your own risk #uglycry
Two and half boxes and a bottle of sangria needed.

A Thousand Boy Kisses on Amazon

5.

Secrets. Everyone has one.

Some are bigger than others. And when secrets are revealed, Some will heal you … And some will end you.

Kate Sedgwick’s life has been anything but typical. She’s endured hardship and tragedy, but throughout it all she remains happy and optimistic (there’s a reason her best friend Gus calls her Bright Side). Kate is strong-willed, funny, smart, and musically gifted. She’s also never believed in love. So when Kate leaves San Diego to attend college in the small town of Grant, Minnesota, the last thing she expects is to fall in love with Keller Banks. They both feel it. But they each have a reason to fight it. They each have a secret. And when secrets are revealed,

Some will heal you – And some will end you.

****

A word of warning – if you’re looking for traditional Happily Ever Afters – you may want to stay away from this one.

You shouldn’t stay away. You should pick this up immediately and get sucked in. A solid three boxes needed here.

Bright Side on Amazon

6.

To Whom it May Concern,

It was easy to call us forbidden and harder to call us soul mates. Yet I believed we were both. Forbidden soul mates.

When I arrived to Edgewood, Wisconsin I didn’t plan to find him. I didn’t plan to stumble into Joe’s bar and have Daniel’s music stir up my emotions. I had no clue that his voice would make my hurts forget their own sorrow. I had no idea that my happiness would remember its own bliss.

When I started senior year at my new school, I wasn’t prepared to call him Mr. Daniels, but sometimes life happens at the wrong time for all the right reasons. Our love story wasn’t only about the physical connection. It was about family. It was about loss. It was about being alive. It was silly. It was painful. It was mourning. It was laughter. It was ours.

And for those reasons alone, I would never apologize for loving Mr. Daniels.

-Ashlyn Jennings

*****

Not your average forbidden student/teacher romance Loving Mr. Daniels is a story that will resonate with anyone that’s ever felt the pain of loss.

Being a sensitive soul myself, this was a three box read and I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat!

Loving Mr. Daniels on Amazon

7.

It’s all Ryden’s fault. If he hadn’t gotten Meg pregnant, she would have never stopped her chemo treatments and would still be alive. Instead he’s failing fatherhood one dirty diaper at a time. And it’s not like he’s had time to grieve while struggling to care for their infant daughter, start his senior year, and earn the soccer scholarship he needs to go to college.

The one person who makes Ryden feel like his old self is Joni. She’s fun and energetic-and doesn’t know he has a baby. But the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes to keep his two worlds separate. Finding one of Meg’s journals only stirs up old emotions. Ryden’s convinced Meg left other notebooks for him to find, some message to help his new life make sense. But how is he going to have a future if he can’t let go of the past?

*****

A one tissue box read, this New Adult Romance Drama is packed with drama and real life questions.

What You Left Behind on Amazon

8.

Holly and Gerry were childhood sweethearts. They could finish each other’s sentences and even when they fought, they laughed. No one could imagine Holly and Gerry without each other. Until the unthinkable happens.

Gerry’s death devastates Holly. But as her 30th birthday looms, Gerry comes back to her. He’s left her a bundle of notes, one for each of the months after his death, gently guiding Holly into her new life without him, each note signed ‘PS, I Love You’. As the notes are gradually opened, and as the year unfolds, Holly is both cheered up and challenged. The man who knows her better than anyone sets out to teach her that life goes on.

With some help from her friends, and her noisy and loving family, Holly finds herself laughing, crying, singing, dancing–and being braver than ever before. Life is for living, she realises–but it always helps if there’s an angel watching over you.

***

Does this come as cliché? This has to be one of the ultimate cry fest books. Please, if you haven’t read it – do it now! If you’ve seen the movie and think you know the whole story – read the book! You won’t be disappointed.

I will never forget the first time I read this one. My husband had some indoor firefighter agility training to do with the rest of the fire department at the local indoor track. I had nothing better to do so I tagged along and brought my book. No big deal, right?

I was sobbing. Sobbing, people. In front of the entire fire department.

A four tissue boxes book for sure!

PS, I Love You on Amazon

9.

Within the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Rhage is the warrior vampire with the strongest appetites. He’s the deadliest fighter, the most voracious lover, the quickest to act on his impulses. He’s also been cursed with two hundred years of hell. Possessed by a beast, he lives in fear of the times when his inner dragon comes out and he’s a danger to everyone around him.

Mary Luce has unwittingly found herself in the vampire world, and under Rhage’s protection. With her own life-threatening curse to bear, she’s not looking for love. Besides, she’s stopped believing in saving grace and miracles long ago. But when Rhage’s intense sexual attraction turns into emotional bonding, he knows he must have her for his mate. As their enemies close in, Mary finds herself praying for something she fears she’ll never have: life eternal with the one she loves.

****

This is my favorite of all the Black Dagger Brotherhood novels and, for me, it has it all. Hot Hero, a heroine that knows what she wants, and a whole lot of sexy. But there’s so much more and when Mary finds herself on the Scribe Virgin’s door, Rhage is willing to sacrifice himself for her. It’s sad and moving all at the same time and there were tears of despair as well as pride.

A total win all around – this is a one tissue box book. Things move too fast in Caldwell and the Brotherhood to stay on one subject for too long.

Lover Eternal on Amazon

10.

Her passion is flying. As one of the best helicopter pilots in the naval reserves, Lieutenant Teri Howe is strong, dedicated, and highly skilled–until a past mistake surfaces, jeopardizing everything she’s worked for.

Rock steady Senior Chief Stan Wolchonok has made a career of tackling difficult challenges. So it’s no surprise when he comes to Teri’s aid, knowing that his personal code of honor–and perhaps his heart–will be at risk. But when a jet carrying an American senator’s daughter is hijacked, Stan’s unflinching determination and Teri’s steadfast courage are put to the ultimate test. The rescue mission will be daring and dangerous. But somewhere between peril and resolution, the line between friends and lovers begins to blur, pushing both their lives over the edge. . . .

***

Okay, admittedly, this one is a little off the map but still cannot be ignored. If you’re a fan of Suzanne Brockmann, you already know what I”m talking about. If not, let me tell you, this woman can tell a story. Not just one, but multiple arcs in the same book.

While the weeping in this book doesn’t have to do with the romance, its worth a tissue box or two. In Over the Edge we meet Gina, the heroine of a future story (Breaking Point), that sacrifices everything for someone else and it’s painful to read. I choke up just thinking about it.

Honestly, if you’ve never picked up the Troubleshooters series, now’s the time do it. They’re timeless and worth every single second!

Over the Edge on Amazon

Now, I’m not going to pretend there aren’t lots more that I could add. The Fault in Our Stars, Me Before You, and every book written by Nicholas Sparks are all great reads but they’re the top dogs. We’re connoisseurs of the romance genre – we need to find the hidden gems!

I hope you were able to find a diamond in the rough here!

Are there any romance novels that made you cry like a baby? If so, let me know! We can make another list!

Twenty Things Readers NEVER Know about a Character

Ah, Pinterest. Or, as I like to call it, the Rabbit Hole.

I have yet to peruse Pinterest for anything less than ten minutes since I first joined years ago. From home DIY projects, to recipes and fashion, its my go to for advice on just about everything!

I know you do it too. No shame – solidarity.

There’s also some seriously amazing writing tips to be found in Pinterest. I tend to pin most on my personal page, but I’ve started adding to my author page as well. Most recently, I pinned something that struck a chord.

You see, I’m a tad stuck in one of my books. A character that I used to feel so close to, so connected with, is now a stranger to me.

It happens. I know it does, but it sure makes writing anything really difficult.

Here’s the pin:

If you're struggling with writing a character...

Twenty things about my character that the reader will never know. Okay, I can do this. Here I go.

I know what you’re saying. But, Jenni, they’re supposed to be things the readers don’t know. They’re supposed to be a secret.

Okay, so, I’m cheating but I want to do this exercise. If you’re a writer, I want you to do this exercise. I NEED this to push me forward and adding more depth to my characters can’t hurt.

Twenty Things Readers Don’t Know About My Character:
(I’m working on Andy Walker – The h from my contemporary romance Forgiving History)

1. She always wanted to be a chef.

swedish chef banging on pots

2. She loves Jenna (her daughter) but doesn’t want any more children.

3. A few years ago she had a mole removed and had a small cancer scare. She never told anyone.

4. She didn’t learn to ride a bike until she was a teenager.

5. She was accepted to three different colleges but didn’t attend any of them.

6. She doesn’t enjoy reading. It gives her a headache.

7. She probably needs glasses but is too stubborn to admit it.

8. She is neither a dog nor a cat person.

9. She hates her car but hates car shopping even more.

10. She isn’t a huge fan of shopping in general.

11. She’s never had a cavity.

12. She’s hasn’t been to her mother’s grave since the day she was buried.

13. She has a poster of Justin Timberlake on the inside of her closet door. Not an old one.

14. As recently as the last six months, she and her twin sister Alex have traded places without anyone catching on.

15. She loves shoes. Especially shoes with heels.

16. She’s always wanted to try a big zip line. Like one of those awesome ones in Hawaii or the jungle they show on TV.

17. She’s never seen Grease. She has no regrets.

18. She likes being active but dislikes feeling like she’s working out.

19. She’s attempted to learn to knit at least ten times. She has yet to learn how to do more than stitch a straight line.

20. She loves to dance at weddings and is always the last one off the dance floor.

Well, there you have it. Twenty things none of us knew about Andy.

Give it a try – see if you feel like you’re any closer to understanding your character and that much closer to finishing your book!

Happy writing, my friends!

Jenni <3