writing

Halloweensie 2022 contest

Being more plugged into the KidLit community means I’ve been finding and entering all sorts of contests, but after my less than stellar results from the Fall Writing Frenzy contest (read: I didn’t win, though I did have fun writing it!), I was more cautious about posting stuff here.

The next contest I entered involved writing a story that was (1) Halloween themed, (2) under 100 words, and include the words scary, slither, and treat. Here was my entry.

How to Trick-or-Treat if You’re a Snake
by Abigail Mumford

My fellow friends with ssscales. Learn from my mistakesss.

(1) Craft costume. Ssstart with a sssock or an empty toilet paper roll.

(2) Make map. Choose houses with low doorbellsss.

(3) Ssscare people. However, if you dress like Gumby or a giraffe, the ssscreams won’t be as loud.

(4) Take treatsss. Note: if mice give you a bellyache, sssteer clear of those lollipopsss with gum in the middle.

(5) Consume candy. There’s no way to hold a bucket, ssso you must eat it immediately.

(6) Ssslither home. Don’t forget to brush your fangsss before bed!

Word count: 95

The results are finally in and – spoiler alert – I WON HONORABLE MENTION for great humor!!

Thanks to Susanna Hill and her team of judges for this honor!

writing

Fall Writing Frenzy 2022: RED

It’s been awhile since I’ve written on my blog, but the Fall Writing Frenzy competition has unleashed some much needed inspiration. The rules? Write a 200-word (max) story based on one of fourteen pre-selected photographs. Here’s the photo I chose:

Fall. Credit: Daniele Colucci for Unsplash.

RED

I crouch and examine the way the puddles mirror and break the light draining from the sky. I wonder if I can replicate it with my paints. The buildings are blue with twilight, as am I.

Where is Grandma?

The concrete, foreign beneath my feet, offers no clues or pine needles scenting my search. My hunt becomes as twisted as the braids hanging beneath my hood.

A soft growl from behind shoves me down the nearest alleyway.

My breath huffs out in too visible clouds. This is a terrible hiding spot.

I hold my breath and peek around the corner. My only company is the gurgle of the storm drain flush with rainwater and the howl of the wind down the empty streets. A paper napkin skitters by like a mouse.

I flinch when a red light turns on. Vivid and violent, staining the sidewalk purple.

It beckons me.

The doorframe is splintered by water and time. My fingers trace the intricate, roaming lines of the doorknob. A wolf’s head, edged in silver, is warm against my palm as I turn it.

My grandmother’s voice, gravelly and strange, echoes nearby, “Little Red Riding Hood! Where are you?”

The end.

Good luck to everyone else who’s entered, but especially to my critique partners: Hannah, Kristen, and Patti! Check out all the entries here. A big, huge heartfelt thank you to Lydia, Kaitlyn, and Alyssa for hosting + judging this competition!

general, writing

write faster

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Point #2. Oh boy, #2. I write slowly. Really slowly. I’ve been working on the same novel since 2008. I’ve always wondered why the characters and the shape of the novel are always shifting – it’s because I, as their creator, am the one shifting.

I’ve always heard authors say “they’re the messenger” or “the characters take over” or some other nonsense I’ve never had happen, and so to hear it’s (actually. possibly. could be) all about the author and who she is and what she’s made of… it’s so obvious I couldn’t see it, but I LIKE THIS TRAIN OF THOUGHT, and so…

Fasten your seatbelt, Work in Progress, it’s go time.

writing

what’s the word I want?

Sometimes the English language just doesn’t have the right word…

The Japanese have “komorebi,” which means the scattered, dappled shape sunlight takes when filtered through trees.

They also have “tsundoku,” which is when you buy a book, don’t read it, and it goes into a pile of similarly unread books.

“Waldeinsamkeit” is the German way to describe the feeling of being alone in the woods.

I need a word for the exasperated sound you make when a parent asks you to do something you desperately don’t want to.

Inuits have “iktsuarpok” to describe the frustration of waiting for someone to show up.

“Utepils” is when Norwegians sit outside on a warm, sunny day and enjoy a beer.

“Culaccino” is the Italian word for the ring of condensation left behind on the table. It often happens when sitting outside on a sunny day.

I need a word for when you’ve been searching for years for a product you first heard about at work and you randomly find out your mother’s had the answer all along.

Walking on your tiptoes across hot sand is pronounced “hanyuku” by the Rukwangalis.

“Gökotta” is the Swedish word to wake up early enough and with the specific desire to go outside to hear the birds singing.

“Pochemuchka” is Russian for someone who asks too many questions (aka me during movies.)

I need a word for the shocked silence after someone asks a question and you answer differently than s/he expected.

Anything you can put on sliced bread is called “pålegg” in Swedish (and called delicious by me.)

“Sobremesa” is Spanish for the post lunch conversations had at the table.

In Indonesia, they say “jaysus” to describe an unfunny joke told so poorly people can’t help but laugh.

I need a word for when you type and delete and type and delete and type and delete words in rapid succession until you find the right combination appropriate to email your boss/coworkers.

“Tartle” is Scottish for that moment of hesitation when introducing someone because you’ve forgotten their name.

To eat past the point of being full because the food is so good can be explained with one Georgian word, “shemomedjamo.”

Trepverter” is Yiddish describing when you think of the perfect witty comeback too late.

I need a word for when you’re walking outside on a frosty evening and the smoky scent of a wood fire wafts by.

writing

red

(Originally written for a class assignment on 10.7.14)

drop spreading

At first, it was just a drop. A simple, unintimidating plop. Thunderclouds had produced more on a sunny day, but when it landed, it had authority. Liquid into liquid rippled and spread, covering everything it touched with its purpose, its reason, its will.

It would haunt you if you let it.

One drop turned into two, three, four, five, eleven, twenty-six, one thousand four hundred and seven. He counted every delicious one.

“It looks like blood,” she said.

“That’s because it is,” he said.

“Okay, wow. I’m way too much of a wuss to deal with this.” She closed her eyes and covered them with her hand. A moment later, she splayed her fingers and peeked through.

He studied her movements. Silent. Careful. His breathing was short and shallow. Excited. His gaze lingered on her polished nails, a purple-ish blue, like blood moving towards the heart in search of oxygen.

“It’s actually kind of pretty,” she said, leaning not towards the puddle, but not away from it either.

“That’s because it is,” he said.

“I can’t believe I’m saying that because you know I can’t even watch scary movie previews, right? I mean, watching TV, it’s so dangerous this time of year with all those movies coming out for Halloween. You’re being serenaded with car commercials and puppies and then BOOM, haunted babies and possessed houses and dark corridors. I can’t hit the mute button fast enough.” Her laugh was high and breathy, shallow and short. Uncomfortable.

He fiddled with his phone until deep, creepy chords poured out.

Her hands landed on her hips before the lyrics spilled out. “Is that supposed to be funny?”

He placed the phone on the table, hands rising up in a salute of surrender. The apology didn’t fill his eyes. Nothing did. Dark brown irises surrounded by a black fringe of lashes that made everyone believe the softer edges.

She looked closer.

He licked his lips.

She stepped back, all limbs and adrenaline and clumsy. The music, tinny and throbbing, surrounded her, filling every corner with danger. He advanced on her, tracking her step for step. The table halted her progress with its heavy, unmovable presence. He embraced the freedom he still had to move about the room. He circled behind her, the musty scent of his sweat trailing him, tying her in knots. He slowed his steps, luxuriating in each footprint as he tightened the space between them, quietly, patiently. Her heart shoveled out blood as if lightening the load could offer a better chance at escape. He stopped in front of her, their bodies parallel; lithe, muscular, mirror images of one another. The air between them evaporated.

She laughed, a deep and true howl. Her silhouette shifted as her body, lush and accepting, gravitated towards his. Her blueberry gaze handcuffed to his.

His control cracked and a single drop slipped to the floor. It wasn’t much. Barely noticeable, but just like in the beginning, it spread with intent, with infection. She focused on his face, which had melted back into the bland, unremarkable mask that had originally caught her attention.

“Come on, baby,” she murmured. “Let go.”

His hollow eyes blinked, empty; blinked, empty; blinked, empty; blinked, filled with daggers of drama, spider webs of lust.

“Gorgeous,” she whispered, her voice all razors and roses. She reached for him, fingers delicate as a corset, landing on his cheek, burning a trail down to the divot of his collarbone, the flesh pale and freckled. She pressed down. His pulse hammered under the pockets her fingertips created. Her thumb slid a rough trail through the shadows of his facial hair up to his bottom lip. Her other hand covered his neck, braced underneath his ear. Her breath floated over his face rich with desire. He captured her wrists, locking their position, tangled, twisted, tight.

Stubborn seconds filled with flammable questions. Tick. Are you? Tock. Who? Tick. How long? Tock. Do you? Tick. Tock. Neither one willing to give an inch. Tension. Friction. A spark.

Ribbons of flesh appeared as clothes burned to the ground. Violent violet heat crackled and dominated. Pulling, directing, dragging, thrusting. They unmasked the masquerade and feasted on each other.