Bronwyn Green

The Corner of Quirky & Kinky

It’s time for this month’s writing prompt. The prompt will appear in bolded text in the story.

 

You need this job. You need this job, You need this job, I chanted silently to myself. Keep your mouth shut. You need this job.

When Aubrey had described her Aunt Beatrix as whimsical and a little eccentric, I’d been expecting that maybe she collected teapots, or salt and pepper shakers, or even creepy porcelain dolls, not…this.  This was… Fuck me, I didn’t even have a word for what this was.

But, the job paid well–ridiculously well, I’d thought when Aubrey had first mentioned it, and it included on site room and board. Better still, it was close to the theatre district which would make it perfect for auditioning and any shows I might get cast in. On paper, it was a dream job. In reality, however…

“Now, as I’m sure Aubrey mentioned, I have a maid to take care of the rest of the apartment,” Beatrice was saying as she walked farther into the huge room, “but my gallery requires too much work for Elin to handle on top of her regular duties.” Beatrix turned to me with a smile. “Which is where you come in.”

“Right,” I murmured, trying not to let my revulsion show.

Beatrix smiled–a small curving of the lips, reminding me of a benevolent saint in a stained glass windows of my childhood church. That was where the resemblance stopped. I was fairly certain her dress cost more than the entirety of wardrobe plus my previous annual income.

“Now, I expect that you’ll have a busy audition and rehearsal schedule, pretty girl like you.”

“Thank you. I hope so, ma’am”

She nodded knowingly, then added, “But the contents of this room will need to be dusted thoroughly every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. There are archivist gloves in the top drawer.” She pointed toward an antique wooden filing cabinet. “You’ll need a fresh pair each day.”

“Okay.”

She walked farther in to the room, and I followed reluctantly. “Each piece must be taken down, and both it and it’s spot dusted carefully. I know that they look clean, but dust accumulates quickly.”

Oh god. I was going to have to touch them. All of them. Every last one of them. Three times a fucking week. “Have you ever considered those vacuum-sealed display cases?”

Her laughter tinkled like broken glass hitting a tile floor. And I could swear that the hundreds of ventriloquist dummies that surrounded us were laughing, too.

“Don’t be silly. How would I play with them, then?”

I am way too sober for this shit.” I muttered under my breath.

“What was that, dear?”

I pasted on my most convincing smile. “Oh, sorry. I said, I’m looking forward to it.”

 

That’s it for me, today. Be sure to check out Siobhan’s take on the prompt, too. 

A couple years ago, I was sitting and writing when I heard my daughter yell at the anime she was watching, “That’s not a character, that’s a fucking plot device!”

I can’t even tell you guys how proud I was.

Seriously.

So. Fucking. Proud.

Now, there are a lot of things that I’d consider the worst in characterization, but they’re all kind of connected to the idea of a character being a plot device rather than an full-fledged character.

So, to me, the worst is a character that exists solely to move the plot in the desired direction or to illustrate a point about another character.

For instance, all the women who swoon over the hero. When those characters exist solely to swoon, they’re not actual characters. They’re a shorthand method of letting the reader know that, yes indeed, everyone wants some of that sweet, sweet hero peen.

Then there are the characters that are there solely to move the plot forward. Now, I’m not talking about the victim in the kidnapping that the heroines have to work together to find, or an incidental character like a cop who shows up at the scene of the accident where the hero and heroine meet. It wouldn’t be realistic if the cop didn’t show up.

I’m thinking more of the characters that show up in a super contrived way that propels the plot forward. The rando vendor at a traveling faire who randomly gifts the heroine with a locket that sends her back in time. Or the renowned psychiatrist who just happens to be riding the subway and is coincidentally having a loud conversation about one of his clients, but that overheard information gives the hero the insight he needs to find the serial killer before he murders the other hero.

Character as plot device can also be an established character who suddenly starts behaving in a completely contrary manner, with little to no motivation, that goes against what the author has established. Like, lets say the author has a hero who’s kinda shy, doesn’t like crowds, and doesn’t like getting physical. But the author wants the hero to meet and then rescue the heroine at an underground MMA fight club. (Is fight redundant there? Asking for a friend who knows jack about MMA.) Anyway, if the author has established the hero’s aforementioned traits, it’s not going to make any sense at all, for the hero to suddenly decide that he’s got a hankering to get all sweaty and fighty because the author decided that this would be the best meet cute ever.

If the author really wants to get this shy, crowd and fight-avoiding hero to this underground fight club, they’re gonna have to think of a different way to do it. He’s going to need sufficient motivation to leave his comfort zone. Like, maybe his brother is thinking of getting involved and the hero goes to wherever one goes for MMA action to talk his brother out of it. And while he’s there, he sees the heroine and hates the way she’s being treated, so he tries to get her out of there, too. Both methods achieve the same ends, but one is a plot device, and one is plot. The difference is consistent characterization and realistic motivation.

Now, the best characterization, in my opinion, is a depiction of a fully realized person–someone who’s got good qualities as well as flaws. Someone who grows and changes during the course of the story while still staying true to the the character the author established. And finally, someone who’s got emotional depth who’s also someone the reader can connect with and empathize with. That’s the kind of characterization I’m looking for.

That’s it for me, today. Be sure to check out Jess’ post, too!

It’s time for another photo flash fic. 

I lowered my camera and stared at my sister. “Katrina…what the actual fuck are you doing?”

“Posing,” she huffed.

Sighing, I took a few shots. If nothing else, maybe I could use them for something.

“Really?” Seth, my best friend muttered, next to me. “Those are the shots you’re taking?”

I glanced over at him and grinned. “What? I’m a girl who likes her options. And sometimes, those options require blackmail.”

He rolled his eyes.

“What was that?” Katrina called out.

“Nothing,” I called. “But how about if you try something else. You’re posing for profile pics–not Contortionist Monthly.”

She flipped me off.

“Profile pics for what?” Seth asked.

She lifted her head, straining her neck, slightly to look at Seth. “Dating site. I’m going for glamorous.”

Seth stiffened next to me, and I grinned. Taking a few more shots, I added, “You missed glamorous and landed smack in the middle of drunken afterparty for a John Deere themed wedding.”

Katrina straightened and put her hands on her hips. “Nice.”

And Seth scowled at me.

“Just calling it like I see it.” I shrugged. “Besides, you’re the one who’s insisting on being so extra.”

“She’s not,” Seth whispered.

I knew my incredulity was clear on my face. “You’re kidding. Right?!”

His cheeks flushed. “Fine. Maybe a little bit extra.” Before I could respond, he crossed his arms over his chest. “I don’t know why she thinks she needs online dating. There’s plenty of guys around here.”

“How’s this?” Katrina yelled, striking another awkward pose.

Ignoring her, I stared balefully at him. “Huh. Well, then maybe some of those guys oughta try asking her out.”

He glared at me for a minute, then turned toward Katrina. “Hey, Kat?”

“Yeah?”

He took a few steps toward her and pulled his phone out of his pocket. “The camera’s better on my phone. Why don’t we go to the park? I – I can take some pictures there.”

She smiled almost shyly at him. “Are you sure you wouldn’t mind?”

“Nah. It’ll be fun.”

“You coming?” Katrina called to me.

“I’ve got to run to the store. You guys go on. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do,” I yelled after them.

Seth discreetly flipped me off behind his back, and I smiled to myself. My work here was done. And I had some bonus blackmail shots in case I needed them.

That’s it for me, today. Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ stories, too. 

Gwen  *  Siobhan

Welp, looks like it’s time for more Therapy with Bron. Intellectually, I’m sure that the majority of these are rooted in anxiety and depression. Emotionally… *shrugs* Sometimes, I’m a train wreck. Before we get started, I should mention that I’m not wandering around feeling like this all the time. Like anything else, insecurity flare-ups are a thing. And some of these are obviously far more impactful than others, so thank fuck, they’re not always lurking in my head–well, except for number two. That one’s pretty much stuck.

Let’s do this, shall we?

As always, these are in no particular order.

10.) Parenting – Most of the time, I feel pretty good about my parenting skills. But there are times that I worry that I’ve irretrievably fucked up my kids for all time.

9.) Body Image – Being fat, I’m pretty insecure about my appearance. I’m great at body positivity for others, However, I’m super bad at extending it toward myself.

8.) Being a Disappointment – Worrying about disappointing the people I care about is a common theme.

7.) How I Look in Photos – Of my four siblings, only two of us are photogenic. I am not one of those two. Other than my mom (who’s adorable, btw) I’m the least photogenic person I know. No…really. It’s bad.

6.) Sounding Dumb – I tend to express myself better in writing than I do verbally, so I often worry that I sound stupid. Also, my voice is obnoxious. Actually, I often worry that I’m legitimately not very bright.

5.) People Just Being Nice (part one) – I sometimes worry that people who say they like my books or leave positive reviews are just being nice because they don’t want to hurt my feelings.

4.) People Just Being Nice (part two) – I also sometimes worry that I’m super annoying and people talk to me because they’re just being nice and don’t want to hurt my feelings.

3.) Imposter Syndrome – It’s that clawing feeling that no matter how well I do, it’s not because I’ve worked hard to learn my craft or have dedicated tons of time and effort writing these books. Nope. It’s all because of some cosmic misalignment of the stars, and eventually everything will go back to how it’s supposed to be. And I guess I’ll be unemployed. In Greenland.

2.) Working Out in Front of Anyone – This is super pathetic, but I’m not even comfortable working out in my own home if my family is here. You know, my family who I love and adore and who I know love and adore me. I’ve never been comfortable working out in front of others, but this experience, a few years ago, definitely made it worse. So, yeah…super insecure about that.

1.) Self-Promo – I wish I could be one of those authors who can say things like, “I’m so excited for you guys to read this!” Or, “This book is amazing, you guys are going to love it!” Or, “This book is so insanely hot!” Or, any number of other positive things authors say to encourage readers to pick up their books. What is your secret?! How do you do that?! I’m afraid that if I tried it, I’d come off looking like a self-obsessed asshole.

That’s probably enough insecurity from me, today. Be sure to check out Gwen’s post and see what’s lurking in her head. 

 

 

Okay…so..yeah, somehow, we’re through May already.

I’d like to tell you that I slept though the month, but that would be a lie. I’m far too tired right now to have slept that much.

  • Complete all scheduled blog posts (Yepper)
  • Complete all scheduled audio preps (5 books)
  • Complete all scheduled edits (3 books)
  • FINALLY finish the short story (no. damn it. )
  • Figure out what I’m going to work on when we’re on retreat in 50 Days: 8 Hours: 11 Minutes: 29 Seconds (It’s now 22 Days: 20 Hours: 02 Minutes: 47 Seconds away, and I’m not solid on a story yet. But…I have the first inklings of an idea. So, I’m hoping more comes to me soon.)
  • Bonus stuff I did: Updated two websites, set up a newsletter for the owner of one of the websites, took care of GDPR stuff, and I read some freaking amazing books, this month.

Okay, so for next month, I’m going to:

  • Finish all scheduled blog posts.
  • Finish all scheduled audio preps.
  • Finish all scheduled edits.
  • Finish and submit that short story. For real, this time.
  • Figure out what I’m going to work on while we’re on retreat.
  • Have an amazing fucking time on retreat.

That’s is for me today. What are your plans for June?

Hmmmm… somehow, I thought this was going to be an easier post than it ended up being.

Surprise!

It’s not.

Okay, so songs representing each decade of my life.

Let’s see…

0-10 Um…this is a hard one. This was the time of Wildly Inappropriate Lullabies, and innocence and loss, and I’m not really sure what song would represent all that. Actually…wait. I do. Susan Mckeown’s “A Mháire Bhruinneall”. I never heard this song when I was a kid, and I’ve no clue what the lyrics mean…because Irish. But the whole vibe of this song feels like innocence and loss and freedom.

Oh, or this one.”My Mother’s Savage Daughter”  nicely sums up this decade and then some.

“I am my mother’s savage daughter, the one who runs barefoot cursing sharp stones. I am my mother’s savage daughter. I will not cut my hair. I will not lower my voice.”

11-20: Gotta give it to “Safety Dance” from Men without Hats. This just perfect sums up my high school and college life with my friends. Probably not coincidentally, I discovered ren faires around this time, too. No one is surprised.

21-30: Ah, the childbirth and and learning how to mom years. Shriekback’s “Cradle Song” is definitely the song for this decade. It manages to perfectly encompass the the beauty and terror of parenthood.

31-40: Um…let’s call this fuck the patriarchy years (which will never stop, btw) and we’ve got two songs by the same artist for this one because I couldn’t decide which was more fitting.

“Little Plastic Castle” and “32 Flavors” by Ani Difranco

40 – 50 Soooooo many choices here, but I’ll try to narrow it down to a few.

“The Blessings” by Dar Williams

“And the blessings were like poets that we never take time to know, but when time stopped I found the place where poets go. They said, “Here, have some coffee, it’s straight black and very old, and they gave me sticks and rocks and stars and all that I could hold.”

“Send Me On My Way” by Rusted Root (now, and forever, really.)

“Landslide” by Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac–of course.

What songs would you pick? Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ song choices. 

Gwen  *  Siobhan  *  Kris

 

 

This month’s song fic is based on “Slow and Steady” by Of Monsters and Men. Here’s the video if you want to give it a listen, and here are the lyrics.

 

The cold wind blows harder, and I huddle in my coat, Spring is late this year. Every time I think it’s arrived, winter returns for another visit. Even now, I glance up and see that the branches are frosted with snow. And in front of my, my shadow stretches in the watery yellow light, across the hole in the ground.

I know that I should go. They’re waiting, trying to hide their impatience. They’d rather be back in their warm cars–back to their lives–away from the empty silence of this barren landscape.

Pushing slowly to my feet, I toss the flowers I’ve been clutching in my frozen hands into the hole. They land with an oddly hollow thud that echoes in my chest, and I wonder if anyone else felt the impact. But, it’s clear they haven’t. Their eyes glimmer with barely masked impatience as they shift from foot to foot.

“Come on, Grandma. Let’s get you home.”

Shaking off his hand, I move, slow and steady toward the car, letting my fingertips drift across the tops of the headstones as I make my way past the ones I used to know.

 

Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ stories.

Sarah  *  Siobhan

It’s time for another Promptly Penned post–flash fiction that starts from a word prompt. The prompt will be in bold in the story.

 

“Motherfucking piece of shit,” Lucy muttered, trying to untangle the thread that had pulled through the other side of the fabric, making it impossible to gather this portion of the ridiculously wide skirt.

Who needed twelve panels of fifty-four inch wide fabric for a skirt, anyway? This was a high school musical, for fuck’s sake. The costumes didn’t need to be historically accurate. No one here was going to be in the running for a Tony. But here she was, gathering together 648 inches of godawful mint green acetate taffeta. As if poly-blend fabric was somehow period.

She glanced around the airless closet the school’s theatre department had been allotted for their costume shop. Bolt after bolt of mint green taffeta towered above her on top of the hutch she was using as a makeshift sewing table. Then, there were the boxes of other fabric and notions haphazardly piled everywhere. They’d long ago overflowed the old metal filing cabinet, and costumes and pattern pieces draped precariously over open drawers. If she wasn’t careful, everything would come crashing down, and she’d be trapped in this room forever.

Finally. She’d managed to pin the oversize skirt to the reinforced bodice. Now, to get it basted on so she could try it on her stepdaughter. If she could get the kid to cooperate long enough to fit it to her. Thus far into Lucy’s three year marriage, Hannah had wanted nothing to do with her stepmother.

“Get involved in something she likes,” Lucy’s wife, Candice had suggested. “Bond with her that way. You love sewing. Why don’t you volunteer to be on the costume committee for the spring musical?”

Lucy had told her that it wouldn’t make a difference. Hannah refused to warm up to her no matter what Lucy did. But in the end, she’d agreed. And now here she was, sewing hideous dresses to impress a kid who would only speak to her through her another person.

She slid the fabric beneath the foot and lowered it, pinning the the dress to the feeddog and began sewing, trying not to drip sweat on anything. What she really needed in here was a fan. Or air conditioning.  

She pushed harder on the foot peddle, speeding up as she headed toward basque waist. The needle hit a pin and snapped, the tip flying backward to hit her in the eye. “Motherfuckingsonofabitch!”

Lucy jerked back, blinking rapidly, her eye burning and tearing. A groaning sound dragged her blurry gaze upward just in time to see all of the piled bolts and boxes tumbling toward her.

Hundreds of pounds of fabric crashed into her, knocking her to the ground, completely covering her. She kicked out, trying to crawl out from beneath the pile, and her foot made contact with her makeshift sewing table. As the terrifying wobble and groan of wood registered, Lucy realized the huge wooden hutch hadn’t been attached.

“Fucking fuckbal–”

As her consciousness flickered and faded, her last thought had been, At least, she died doing what she loved–swearing profusely.

Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ stories, too.

Gwen  *  Siobhan

Welp…it’s May. I don’t even know how that happened. It’s like I blinked, and almost half the damn year’s over.

So, what’s on my mind…buckle up, I forgot my evening dose of Adderall, and shortly, it’ll probably be pretty obvious.

  • The biggest thing on my mind right now, are my lungs and their inability to function properly. I’m now in day 8 of the worst asthma flare I’ve had in years. The breathing treatments and the steroids are helping, but I’m not back to normal yet. But, I’m slowly getting there.
  • I’m really proud of my daughter. She just finished up her final term of her undergrad degree, and we’re all thrilled. My baby now has a degree in psych. And she had to learn a harsh management lesson today. She’s the manager of a neighborhood ice cream shop, and one of her employees had to be written up several times for being on her phone instead of working. Well, she got pissed about that and decided to be incredibly hurtful. My daughter, as a lot of you know, is transgender. Since she came out, I’m grateful to say that she’s been surrounded with far more love and support than negativity. However, that hasn’t been the case with this particular employee who decided that misgendering her and talking shit about the fact that she’s trans was the way to vent her anger. My daughter’s boss told her that he didn’t want a bigot working for him, and that my daughter could fire her or, if she didn’t feel comfortable, he’d do it. My daughter opted to do it, and while she didn’t enjoy it, she’s feeling good about standing up for herself. And I’m feeling good about that, too.
  • As I’m typing up this post, there are: 38 Days: 10 Hours: 35 Minutes: 03 Seconds ’til Jenny Trout and I leave to meet Jess Jarman and Kris Norris for our annual writing retreat! (Not that I’m counting.)
  • My mom is knitting me, quite possibly, the coolest sweater in the world. I’ll show it off when it’s done.
  • I’m still dealing quite a bit with depression and anxiety and difficulty writing, but I’m hoping that I’m coming to the end of this stretch.
  • My husband is very loudly rustling the Skinny Pop bag, and I may have to stab him.
  • #cockygate is an amazingly awful train wreck I can’t look away from while simultaneously being horrified and disgusted that it’s even happening. My husband is also super invested–to the point where I read him tweets in the morning while he’s getting ready for work.
  • Did you know you can actually bruise your throat from coughing? Well, you can. 0/10 – Do not recommend.
  • My husband smashed a spider for my daughter using his phone. But he realized he only got half of it. He grabbed some tissue to wipe up the rest, and the OTHER HALF WAS FUCKING GONE. Also 0/10 Really do not recommend. (I’m actively considering burning down the house.)
  • I have a new gig on Monday nights. I’m babysitting for a dear friend and her hilarious and adorable kids. They absolutely crack me up and remind me about the good parts about doing daycare.
  • It’s very difficult to find a 2018 calendar in mid-May.
  • I’ve been listening to the narration for OUT OF SYNC, and holy fuck, you guys, this dude’s voice is INSANELY HOT.
  • I need to get some fabric samples together for a project.
  • I’m feeling at a bit of a loss, because I don’t know what book to release next.
  • In other book news, and a segue that makes sense, I’ve gotten all my rights returned from various publishers, so I’ll be re-editing and re-releasing a bunch of books. But, not all at once. That would be overwhelming. First up, will be what was formerly known as The Witch Way series. It’s now bundled into one, and it’s called The Charmed Collections, and I absolutely cannot wait to show you guys the freaking gorgeous cover Norris made me! It’s stunning.

Okay, so this is probably enough brain scramble for tonight. I’ve gotta get upstairs and do another breathing treatment and try to get some sleep. I’d actually like to write tomorrow.

Be sure to check out the other authors’ brain dumps, too.

Jessica  *  Kris  *  Siobhan  * Gwen

Please welcome our newest member, Sarah Moore! She’ll be taking part in the flash fiction and promptly penned posts. Now, back your your regularly scheduled story. 

 

It was only day five of their big European vacation–the one they’d scrimped and saved for for the last five years. Cammy adjusted her ponytail as it was coming loose, falling behind Derek’s long-legged pace. They were on yet another walking tour of another tiny French town. Well, it was less walking tour and more forced march.

So far, the trip wasn’t anything like what she’d envisioned. There were no long lingering glances, while sipping wine at sidewalk cafés. She hadn’t been able to lose herself in any of the works of art she’d been dying to see for as long as she could remember.

She hadn’t been particularly upset when they’d only taken a cursory peek at the Mona Lisa. She’d always thought it had been overrated, anyway. But she’d waited a lifetime to lose herself in The Church at Auvers. The vivid blues of falling night on Van Gogh’s canvases were like no other blues she’d ever seen. They were blues she wanted to fall into. To submerge herself in. To breathe.

But Derek had stood behind her, hands clasped, rocking slowly on the balls of his feet. It was the same thing he’d done at her mother’s funeral this past winter. She’d put it down to his discomfort with grief and emotional displays. But after the his behavior at the d’Orsay, she now wondered if he’d simply been bored. If her family’s loss had inconvenienced him.

She glanced at him. He’d moved even farther along the bridge, never noticing she wasn’t right behind him.Derek had been too impatient, always moving, always looking ahead to the next item on his list. The next goal to achieve. There never seemed to be even a moment where he took the time to enjoy the moment. To appreciate his accomplishments. To appreciate her.

Cammy smiled slightly at the couple walking toward her. Every so often, they’d lean close to together as they wandered, their heads nearly touching, their fingers grazing each other. She stifled a laugh. And Derek had only now realized she wasn’t with him. He stood, watching her–impatiently, if she had to guess–but she was too far away to tell.

He began rocking slowly on the balls of his feet, and she swallowed back the burning rush of tears. They might be crossing this bridge together, but she realized they were no longer headed in the same direction.

That’s it for me, this month. Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ stories. 

Sarah  *  Gwen  *  Siobhan