Filling the Toolbox: WOW 555 Winner and New Writing Prompt

WOW 555 Writing Challenge on Write on WendySomething came up this week that I think should be mentioned. One of our regular writers here on the fiction contest asked if I would like to see a book he published. The answer, for every one of you, is a resounding YES! If you’ve published a book and would like to see it reviewed, let me know. If I can fit it into the schedule at all, I will. If I can move something to get it in, I will. What I want to do most with this blog is encourage and support you in getting your writing out there. If there’s some way I can help you, let me know!

On that note, it seems it was a very busy week for most of us. I heard publicly and privately from several of our regulars this week who have been very busy spending some much-needed time with family – some on a happy note, some not so happy. Taking the time to spend time with the ones we love is always important. I hope this season gives you plenty of opportunity to stay close. With everyone being so busy, we didn’t have many entries to the contest this past week, but we had enough to open a vote. Here are the authors who submitted:

In keeping with all the family elements going on recently, our winner this week wrote something sadly beautiful regarding family. It’s time to congratulate Bill Engleson (@billmelaterplea) for his winning story Slipping Away. See if you find it as beautiful as I do:

Slipping Away

Bill Engleson (@billmelaterplea)

It is the evening chill that I first notice. It has been a warm September day, not hot, not equatorial hot, more like, well, like when you have just stepped out of a steaming shower on a late winter morning but the floor tiles are cold to the touch and send a shiver up your wet skin, not a polar bear shimmying arctic ice shiver but, well, like the way a bottle of beer feels when it’s just been taken out of the cooler and you slide it slowly across your brow and it still has a cascade of chilled beads that is so cooling.

Yes, it is that first evening chill.

I want to get a jump on preparing for the fall. Fall always surprises me. I imagine it surprises pretty much everyone. Summer is usually so intense, fiery, forceful. The heat can sometimes burn into your brain like a hot spike, searing your blood, foiling your energy, laying waste to your dreams.

Maybe that is the destiny of dreams.

I have always been inclined to temper my inclination to dream. The disappointment of failing dreams haunted my childhood. Looking back now, I sense that my inability to nourish my dreams, a by-product of my sad, dish-rag limp parents, the poverty of the times, the ongoing dull ache of those desolate, unhappy years, well, I sense that it was not healthy. Not healthy at all.

But, as I was saying, I want to get a jump on the fall.

I have a small garden. The soil is mostly clay. Not much grows there. Still, I try, we tried, to grow a few vegetables; carrots, tomatoes, beans. But this year, water was scarce, the heat was suffocating, the soil, dry, infested with the shriveled bodies of flies and salamanders and assorted other crawly bugs who all withered in the unrelenting heat. I did my best but, as I recall, it was never good enough. I have always known that. My thumbs were never green; they are now purple with age, gnarled and twisted. I look at my hands, the change in them, the spotty blemishes on my skin, that loss of youthful elasticity. They are my father’s hands. I turn over the soil in my garden with my father’s hands and wonder what the coming year will bring and what I have become.

The afternoon sun disappears. I go into the house. It is only me. And the cat. The cat is at loose ends. I suppose I am too. I make small kitchen noises, banging the kettle on the counter. The cat jumps. I reassure her. “You’re fine. That was just me.” She knows it is just me. She wants it to be you. I do too. I know it cannot be. Try and tell a cat that.

I stand in front of the stove for a time.

The kettle boils.

I’ll likely make a full pot of tea.

Most of it will go to waste.

It is dark now.

Yes, the afternoon sun has slipped away.


Contest Prompt

This past week I have been working on organizing my professional writing toolbox and figuring out what kinds of gaps I have. All of us should have at least one toolbox to help us accomplish our goals. It can include writing software like Scrivener or Nuance Dragon transcription software. It can also include reference books to help us learn better storytelling or how to self-publish. It could also mean the network of friends and fellow writers you have that can help keep you motivated and taking steps along the journey. I’ll be writing more about the writer’s toolboxes I’ve developed in tomorrow’s post, but for today, our writing prompt is to write about the tools in a toolbox of your choice. It can be a toolbox your characters need or wish for, it can be a toolbox in the physical sense or the virtual sense. As always, the decision is up to you as to which kind of tools you want to place in what kind of toolbox for yourself or your characters. See you Friday!

WOW 555 Writing Prompt by Wendy Strain
photo credit: Finally, organized via photopin (license)

You know the guidelines, 500 words within the next 5 days, the call for entries will come out Thursday evening and you have until 5 pm Friday to submit your links or stories to the comments. Again, if you’re concerned you’ll forget, just sign up for the reminder email list. Messages go out each Monday morning with the prompt and each Friday morning with a simple reminder to submit your story.


8 thoughts on “Filling the Toolbox: WOW 555 Winner and New Writing Prompt

  1. It’s funny, I’ve been trying to see if your website had some kind of submission form for book reviews. I wasn’t sure how to ask. If you’ve got the space for it, I’d love to give you a free copy of Reckoning to take a look at!

  2. Hi Wendy,

    You may get inundated with your generous request. Anyway, my one and only novel thus far is 2 years old. It is as I may have mentioned a Social Work noir. Actually, it is not as noirish as I might have originally planned. It is mildly memoirish but fiction allowed me a freedom truth curtailed. I’d be happy to send you a e-review copy if that would work for you. But only when you have time.

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