Where Did My Idea Come From?

Over the past month, we've shown that ideas come from everywhere. Some people can take a picture--any picture, whether a personal photo, a magazine picture, or any other--and create a story idea. For others, the picture appears in the mind.

It doesn't matter where your ideas come from, what matters is that you have them and... (drumroll) you do something with them.

One of the scariest things for a new author is often the fear that there's a limit to the number of ideas each person can have. Although there may be times of panic, when even the tiniest of an idea is impossible, ideas never stop. I'll admit that there have been times when I thought the idea well had run dry. I even felt a bit of that panic. That's when I turn to reading books to take my mind off the fear, when I start pulling DVDs from the shelf and watch them, one after another, and when TV becomes my best friend. NOT trying to think of an idea is the best way to have one--and sometimes more than one. Or two. Or five. Or... You get the picture. ;)

Whether you're refilling the well (aka ignoring the need for ideas) or working on your latest, be sure to write down any idea, no matter how small, that comes to mind, then leave it alone. Let it simmer in the back of your mind. Before you know it, you'll have the beginning of a new story.

Once those ideas have taken root, there are things to help move them along from that beginning to the middle and on to the happily ever after.

No matter what, when writing--or even not writing--have fun!
I am not really inspired to write by photos. I am inspired by strangers. If I go sit at the airport and people-watch, my brain almost explodes because I get so many ideas. I can look at a stranger and instantly develop a character and story. In the interest of doing what we are supposed to for the blog, I looked through my photos, chose three, and wrote the following.

Jarvan The Choosy

“Twould be a great thing to talk to thee, Yamen, but I know not what to choose. Well, I guess I do talk to thee. Twould be a great thing for thee to talk to me.” Jarvan laughed softly at himself for talking to his horse. It would be true that if he chose Ayauna he would be able to understand the speech of animals. But it seemed that those who had not the gift really couldn’t credit that animals could converse intelligently. Although Ayauna was fascinating with her spiky blonde hair and aloof manner, she was often distracted when he was with her, for it seemed that she was always listening to some animal that was nearby. He often felt that he would never be her priority. He had once told her that he would have more of her attention if he were a donkey. She had turned her sparkling green eyes toward him, focused, and said, "That's true." Then she had gone back to listening to the falcon on her arm.

Jarvan leaned back, hands behind his head, and contemplated the partially cloudy sky as Yamen plodded lazily along. “Perhaps I should choose Miriata. Twould be a wondrous thing to convert to a merman and swim the ocean.” Jarvan thought of Miriata…she was tall and muscular like all the mermaids, and, like all of them, could convert back and forth in and out of water. Jarvan was 5 foot and eleven inches tall. Miriata was probably 6 foot and 6 inches. He wondered if it would bother him to be shorter than his wife. None of the other mermen seemed to mind…and they did get more muscular after becoming a merman. The last time that he had seen Miriata, she'd been swimming in the Eastern lagoon. It had been early morning and the waterfalls seemed made of light. He had thoroughly enjoyed watching the scenery and her. But when she'd exited the water and he'd come eye to throat with her, he had felt awkward. It had been uncomfortable to let his eyes travel upward to find her ice blue ones looking down at him. She'd grinned a knowing grin and ran back to the water, converting in the air as she dove in.

Jarvan’s thoughts turned to Lelianita and felt the tempo of his heart increase. “Yamen, I would choose Lelianita but then would not be granted any gift, for she has none.” Yamen looked back over his shoulder and rolled his eyes, but of course Jarvan didn’t notice. Those without the speech gift couldn’t seem to fathom that “human” expressions often adorned the faces of animals. “But Lelianita is so sweet…I guess that’s why she be an ambassador…and so pretty.” Jarvan sighed as he thought of the dark haired beauty with the big eyes. He did enjoy being with her more than anyone. She made him feel good about himself…nay, about life. He felt slightly guilty that he was having a difficult time choosing between receiving a gift and being with the sweet Lelianita.

Lelianita smiled grimly to herself, and, like Yamen, rolled her eyes. Although Jarvan was two miles away, she had zoomed in on his thoughts. No gift. Hah, just like a man to not pick up on the subtle hints right under his nose. Sighing, she guessed that she couldn’t blame him. It was not allowed to reveal the gift of reading thoughts. And, it wasn’t as developed as some of the other gifts, making it hard to control and inconsistent. Although she was very young, Lelianita seemed to have the most advanced use of the gift, which was why she was an ambassador at such a young age. If their own people knew not of the gift, then of course other countries would not. It kept much peace to be able to have ambassadors that could read the thoughts of others.

She thought of Jarvan again and a warm blush stole over her face. He was a fine man, handsome, a hard worker and full of integrity. She had chosen him months ago. But, some tradition left over from old earth said that men chose their mate. The women often laughed together that it had probably been in old earth as it was now…they just thought that they chose. Lelianita was confident that she would have Jarvan. Oh, he would be furious, as all those chosen by thought readers were, to find that she had been reading his thoughts. But when they received the gift also, it calmed them. Besides, both Ayauna and Miriata had their eyes on other men.

No men were born with gifts, only women. A man was given the same gift as his wife when they married…well, actually on the wedding night. She blushed again. There were tales of men that used to cheat on their wives, but that was never a problem now. Since they could not contain more than one gift, it meant instant death. When a wife died, the man’s gift left. He had to marry again to get another gift.

Lelianita shook her head, ridding it of thoughts of history and tradition, and went inside to get her hat. Jarvan was about to ride by and she smiled a slow, confident smile as she decided that today she would help him choose...and help him forget all about Ayauna and Miriata.

Your Face Will Freeze That Way (Penny Rader)

I took this picture two summers ago when I was visiting my baby sister, Anna, in Colorado. She was participating in The Children's Hospital Courage Classic bike ride in memory of my granddaughter, Lexi. The Children's Hospital Courage Classic invades Copper Mountain and Leadville for three days, along 157 miles of mountain routes. We stayed in a cozy little house in Frisco. On our way back to Aurora we visited a few towns. I think I took this pic in Dillon, CO.

Did anyone ever tell you that if you crossed your eyes your face would freeze that way?

Yeah? Me too. Only my face is frozen this way because I fell in love with Carlotta. It wasn’t her fault though. It was her grandmother. Her grandmother wanted to marry my grandfather, but he chose another. She never forgave him.

One year ago tomorrow, after Carlotta told her family we were going to marry, her grandmother lured me out to their yard. I thought she was going to give us her blessing. Instead, she cast a spell on me and turned me into a tree. And, well, you can see the expression that froze on my face.

Carlotta doesn’t even know I’m me. I mean she sees me as a tree, but she thinks me, the person, Marcus, abandoned her. She sits beside me nearly every day. Sometimes she cries. Other times she leans against me, her silent grief almost more than I can bear. I watch over her the best I can, shielding her from the sun, the rain, the snow. I bend with the wind to keep her safe, to offer comfort. If only I could wrap myself around her and give her a hug.

Every time she weeps I sprout more leaves. Maybe if she wrapped her arms around me and kissed me…yeah, I know that’s fairy tale stuff.

I don’t know how to break the spell. Several months ago Carlotta’s grandmother had a stroke. She’s stuck in bed, all withered and mute, staring into space. Guess you could say her face is frozen, too.

What goes around comes around.

A Mere String 'o Words

Well, I obviously failed to be inspired by pictures, so, I had to find out what exactly does inspire me? I found one thing. Words. Words evoke pictures in my head.

Here is an example. We writers of WARA occasionally do little writing exercises by inventing a story out of ten or so words. Everyone gets the same words. Somehow, I see the list of words and suddenly my brain says to me, “Ha! I can use them all in two sentences, maybe three!” And I do. But that doesn’t make a very long story so I stretch it a bit. Adding more words to the picture in my brain that I’ve created with the first words.

Here’s one of those word inspired stories. I have no idea where to finish it, but it is a beginning.

It Tasted Like Mud


Constant Appeal

It tasted like mud, looked like a chocolate cake, and smelled like burnt almonds. How could anyone overlook a disaster of this proportion, Alice thought as she dumped what was left of the tiny sample from a hole she had excavated near the bottom of her masterpiece. Her masterpiece. Looking at it, she wanted to cry, but didn’t have time for that option. This cake was due, fully decorated, at McDuffy’s bar in exactly—she glared at the traitorous clock above the sink, twenty-three minutes.

Puffing the hair out of her eyes with an up-turned bottom lip, she darted for the carton of special-order frosting. The contents resembled cottage cheese. Was it supposed to? She shrugged. What did she know about Synthranese Wedding Glorat? Maybe it was supposed to look like yellow cottage cheese. She sniffed it and staggered suddenly against the counter. Whew! It smelled like really old, dirty, sweat socks. Socks or not, she wouldn’t get paid if it were late. She held her breath and started slathering.

“Hey, I’ll get that for you.”

The man of Alice’s dreams held the door open wide as she maneuvered her way into McDuffy’s front door with her precious burden.

Jack held the door open as he stared down into the goldest set of brown eyes he’d ever seen—and dropped his beer. An unbelievable aroma wreathed her head.

“AWK!” Alice went down hard, slipping in spilled beer and broken glass, landing with the dessert in her lap—unhurt. Dammit! An accident would have let her off the hook on whether everyone was going to enjoy this—or be hospitalized while getting their stomachs pumped. As it was, the only mess on the floor was her.

Manfully, Gerald held out hands to remove the large white box from his victim’s lap. He handed it off to who ever was beside him, his eyes never leaving the woman on the floor. Her cleavage, from this angle, was life altering.

“Let me help you. This is my fault entirely.” Gerald swooped down and picked the woman up off the floor to hold high against his chest. His purchase of a set of weights was paying off, big time. She weighed less and had skin like a silk tie. He moved his fingers over whatever slice of naked skin they’d found—pretending to get a better hold and wished he could see what he had a hold of.

“Er…thanks. I think,” Alice said breathlessly while immediately wanting to slap herself for her idiotic and less than sexy response. A man had just picked her up for God’s sake. In his arms! The stuff of dreams. If only she didn’t smell like Glorat or drip beer off her bottom or blood from the cut on her ankle all over him, then she might feel as if she had survived this hideous day with something to hope for. She was already praying for the victims who ate that cake.

Ideas and Time Wasting

I’m blogging today as a weak substitute for Sharon. We’ll all wish her back even sooner if you wade through too much of my brain ooze. However, let us forge onward!

This month’s blog theme is writing using pictures to stimulate the writerly brain to come up with stories or components of stories. I’m staring wheat harvest in the face because my other job is a Southwest Kansas farmer’s wife. I’ve just spent the last two days clearing the decks (this would also include my desk surface) for the next three week’s fevered cooking and whatever else essential activity. I’ll find out at the end of each day what was required that day. It is as if my life will not be plotted but written as a famous author once said ‘by flying into the mist’.

Part of what became a part of the ‘clearing of the decks’ today was to toss all of those enticing ideas, articles, and pictures in the trash. Gulp! How could I do such a thing? Easy. There are too many to keep track of, make sense out of, or even attempt to file them in a meaningful way. I started to sort them and all of a sudden realized how stale they felt. I’ve seen them all a couple of times. That evidently was enough. They suddenly felt like leftovers. You know the ones—those changing shape and color at the back of the refrigerator. Somehow, no longer as appealing as they once were in their raw state.

I wanted to think of something new. So, off they went. The feeling was cathartic! Free, empty, a blank slate, I could now let my imagination go without fearing I was missing some essential essence. Imagine the time I have wasted by gathering, piling, sorting, re-sorting, re-stacking only to end up tossing the entire batch. Why did I do it? Because the adventure of writing this blog on my turn only a few days ago was enough to let me know that my mind doesn’t use external pictures. How wonderful to find that out about my writerly self. I wouldn’t have ever known that to be the harsh truth if I hadn’t been asked to stretch myself that direction as a writer for the goal of this month’s blog.

Do I have pictures? Yes. But not for writing. They are my mind’s relaxation and they hang on my walls to sooth me as I admire different things about them. I also have a port hole from a ship hanging on my wall. And a pair of size 4 black high heels from the forties. A Chinese puzzle box. A conch shell which occasionally I pick up and blow. Yes, they actually do sound like they do in the movies—loud and full and last, my secret vice, a black box of clippings of unusual deaths (the robber who died in the back of an armored car when it went around the corner and bags of change shifted and…) and stunning ironies. But the rest of the stuff. Gone. As of today.

I’m not going to begin to say that gathering things and pictures and inspiration aren’t a useful activity, but obviously not for me. For my muse, she whispered to me, “time’s awastin’.”

Give yourself permission to be different. You’re a writer. Each of us comes at our craft and use of our talent differently. Good luck with finding the dimensions of your talent. I’m thinking that for each of us it is much like the blind man feeling his way around an elephant. Sometimes we find the foot, sometimes the tusk.

It's Not The Size That Matters

It’s Not The Size That Matters

Ariana had come to Florence, Italy for a breather, for a break from the frustrating reality of her life. She’d been here over a week and far too soon she would return to Kansas. Her heart was heavy with the depression of having to go home and face the lonely apartment she’d recently moved into, of surviving for another year at her secretarial job until her next vacation, and of forcing smiles for all of her happily married friends. Only nine months ago she’d thought she’d been happily married. Until Super Jerk, a.k.a. Jacob Whittaker, had found a barely twenty-something club singer who “rocked his world”…or so he’d eloquently put it one morning at breakfast as he told her he was filing for divorce.

She tugged the strap of her shoulder bag higher and stepped off the double-decker tour bus at Michaelangelo’s Piazza. Sucking in a breath of the early morning cool air, she glanced around before deciding which way to go. She’d been here several times before. The view overlooking Florence from here was breathtaking. Her gaze landed on the statue of David and his amazing taut butt. Yes, it had a slight green tinge to it, but so what. That butt, okay all of him, was pretty darn impressive. There was nothing like a well-put-together man, in her biased opinion.

Super Jerk did not qualify for that status. Maybe years ago he had. But an extra fifty pounds and thinning hair had turned him from a semi-hunk to yet another so-so man. Still, she would have held to that whole “until death do us part” thing if…

“Are you all right, signorina?”

She blinked in surprise at the deep, curl-her-toes-sexy male voice. She glanced at the man who had walked up beside her. Oh. My. God! Every one of her dreams of the perfect Italian man had come to life! Here stood six-foot-plus of tanned, toned, perfectly sculpted male. Thick, raven-colored hair brushed the collar of a cream button-down shirt with the top three buttons deliciously undone to tease her with a light sprinkling of dark hair and the promise of pecs that would make most women drool. And chocolate brown eyes surrounded by long black eyelashes that made her sick with envy watched her carefully.

He touched her arm in concern. “Signorina?”

Ariana felt her face heating. She’d been savoring every luscious inch of him; at least she hadn’t actually drooled. Had she? She reached up to casually wipe at the corners of her mouth. No, not drooling. She breathed a small sigh of relief and gave the Italian God a smile.

“I’m fine, thank you.” He hadn’t moved his fingers away from her arm and tingles of awareness moved steadily from that spot to her heart, which began that foolish-woman kind of racing. “Every time I come up here, I’m overwhelmed by the beauty of the view.”

She smiled again and he gave her one in return, a smile that lifted one corner of his mouth and revealed a dimple. Her fingers ached to reach up and stroke the side of his lightly beard-stubbled face, to whisper the pad of her thumb over his full lips. Get a grip! Yes, he’s beyond gorgeous. Yes, you’ve never come within ten feet of such a tempting stud, and probably never will again. But really, get a grip!

“There’s a little coffee shop across the street with an amazing view,” he said, nodding the other way. His gaze captured hers and his eyes heated. “Would you like to get a cup of coffee with me?”

She hesitated, all her mother’s long ago warnings rolling through her thoughts. “Don’t go off with strange men.” “Don’t give away your virginity or your heart too easily.” There were more warnings tumbling around, but she pushed them back into that special spot in her brain for those “not now” thoughts. Her virginity was a thing of the past and Super Jerk had trampled all over her heart already. Besides, they were only going across the road for coffee.

“Mia bella signorina? I only wish your company for a short while.” He stroked a finger lightly over the bare skin of her forearm and she shivered. Clearly noticing his effect on her, his smile grew, reaching his warm eyes. “Unless you’d allow me the pleasure of showing my city to you instead. I have a car just down the road.”

“I’m not sure.” She stopped to worry her lower lip. She wanted to go with him. Seeing the city on a tour bus with a couple of dozen other tourists was okay, but seeing Florence with a strikingly handsome native… Option A, boring. Option B, daring but with potential.

He reached up to cup her face and her heart nearly pounded its way out of her chest. “I will not hurt you, mia bella. Although I can see from the pain haunting your eyes that someone else has. Whoever the man was, he was a fool.”

She made a spur of the moment decision, took a leap of faith, and every other clich├ęd action that allowed her to take a chance on him. Option B it was. She looked him boldly in the eye. “You’re right, he was a fool. And, yes, I’d love to see the city with you.”

The smile he gifted her with touched all the wounded parts of her soul. If they only had today together, it would be enough. This amazing man was taking time out of his life to make her feel special and it had been far too long since anyone had done that.

Taking her hand, he led her down the sidewalk toward a spot where a pair of sleek black sports cars were parked next to a silver Alpha Romeo and a tiny red car with three wheels. The little car was so cute. She giggled in delight.

They walked past the three sporty vehicles and right to the red one. She gaped at him, shocked. “Really?”

That sexy smile of his turned up several notches. He went around to open the passenger door. “Really, mia bella signorgina. There are times when I like to have a bit of fun. This car gives me that.”

Ariana eased down onto the seat. There was only room for two people, but being inside the small car made her giggle again. It really was a fun little thing. “Size really doesn’t matter, does it?” she said quietly.

He slid into the driver’s seat, looking at her with eyes gone dark with desire. A hint of amusement etched his face. “Don’t worry, mia bella. Should we decide to end our day together with more than sightseeing and a glass of wine, you will not be disappointed.”

“Hmmm, let me think about that.” And, oh my, she was thinking about it.

He leaned over to buckle her seatbelt and brushed a gentle kiss over her lips before moving away. “I ask no more than that you spend the day with me.”

Her heart raced with more excitement than she’d felt in days, months really. “So, just how fast can this baby go?”

He laughed and the sound of it was so sensual, so filled with true joy that she was pretty sure how the night would end. If not in real life, at least in her dreams. Daring woman that she’d suddenly become, she was pulling for that “in real life” thing.


I tried. I really did. Staring at pictures. Trying to imagine anything. I put huge effort into it. I even went on a nine hour driving trip through dull country to fetch some new tractor seats, all the while hoping that more fields of ripening wheat would finally spark my imagination while staring occasionally at a picture. The only enthusiasm my brain would spark was for stopping at the next comfort location for an exchange of fluids. I switched pictures. Didn't help. My process ignores pictures from without. So, in the spotlight of ineptitude, I offer the little story below. I decided that my task as a writer is to paint a picture with words. This I can do. What picture comes to your mind after you read this story? If I used my words well, you will have the picture I intended. If I didn't, you'll be confused ducks.

I Have a Problem


Daggy Hakishon

I have a problem. It isn’t the kind of problem most people have—my eyes are different. Instead of side by side, mine are set, one over the other, above my nose. It makes my glasses look funny. I’ve tried everything to make people quit staring at my glasses. I’ve crossed my eyes and jumped at them. Sure, they quit staring, but then they start screaming, which makes more people turn to stare at my glasses.

It’s not like I can run around without my glasses. I’m so nearsighted; I’d fall over people, lose things, and not be able to find my way home. One time I thought I’d try something a little different to distract people from staring at my glasses. An actor in an old movie, Cary Grant, winked very slowly at someone and they winked back then both of them smiled. While neither wore glasses, I thought it might be worth learning to do. Maybe, if I winked, no one would notice my glasses.

Spending an hour in front of the mirror every night while brushing my teeth and brushing my hair before going to bed, I learned to wink. Sometimes slow, sometimes fast, sometimes with either eye, I could wink. (I liked to wink my upper eye the most, but some people might prefer the lower so I perfected each.)

Thinking it was time to try out my wink, I volunteered to go shopping with my mother. Sure enough, just as usual, I caught someone staring at my glasses. I winked, my upper eye, wanting to do my best. The person stepped back but didn’t stop staring. I winked my lower eye. Same results. So, I winked both eyes—one after the other! When the person didn’t quit staring at my glasses, I winked faster. The person blinked both of their eyes and then backed into a store display. At least they quit staring, but didn’t smile. Everyone else came and stared at the mess instead!

My mom asked me what all the fuss was about while we were on the drive home. She told me maybe I was trying too hard. Some people don’t have smiles in them.

Since the only time anyone seemed to stare at me was when I wore my glasses, I decided to put them in my pocket until I absolutely needed them. One of the earpieces broke when I accidentally bumped into my best friend. My father advised me on the way to the eyeglasses store, that I was going to have to wear my glasses all of the time, whether people stared at them or not. My glasses were for my eyes not my pocket. I told him everything I’d tried to keep people from staring at them. He suggested that I quit wasting my winks and most of my other efforts and just smile or nod every time I caught someone staring at my glasses. He also said since it was my fault my glasses were broken I would have to pay him a repair tax out of my allowance until the cost of the repairs were paid back to him. Now, I not only have people staring at my glasses but half of my allowance is gone for repair tax until next month! Sheesh!

My mom said when I’m older I can try contact lenses. Maybe that will solve the problem. But until then, I guess I’ll just have to get used to people staring at my unusual glasses.

A Moment of Honesty - Rox Delaney

I've wondered for several days just what to write about today. Should I try to conform to the topic this month and choose a picture? Or should I admit that I don't--can't!--do writing exercises? I decided to come clean. I'm the odd person out. Writing exercises have never helped me write. Believe me, I've tried, and I've failed. :(

None of this means that taking a picture and imagining a story to reflect it in some way is a bad thing. Not at all! Sometimes it can help crash through a block. Sometimes it can be the beginning of a wonderful novel-length story. Sometimes it's just the thing needed to put fingers to keyboard--an incentive to get the brain and fingers working together.

Whatever way you find to get yourself writing, to get those "juices flowing," do it. There is no wrong way, and each of us must search for our personal favorite. What works for someone else may work for you. It also may not. And if the old tried and true isn't working, it's time to look for something new to try. We each have our own way of getting to that final, finished manuscript and hopefully enjoying most of the journey along the way.

May your journey on whatever path you choose be a delightful one!

The Garden Bench Joan Vincent

What follows is a short story I wrote after I looked at the photo to the right for a few moments. How this “world building” happens is unclear to me. I started typing with a physical visualization and the story veered off onto its own track. This is called writing "by the seat of your pants." It's like someone else is telling your fingers what to key. I've had this happen often with a really stubborn character intent on taking a story a different direction than I may have outlines. If I try to go "my" way words just won't come. When I go his or her way, it's like someone is dictating. Strange even weird at times.
Think a moment or two before you read my story. What story did you think of?

The Garden Bench

There was a chill in the air despite the brilliant sunshine. Brilliant sunshine that should have brightened the heart of the slim young woman hurrying down the garden path. Her posture bespoke quite the opposite. Hunched shoulders, lowered head, and an occasional swipe at her cheeks told of an unbearable weight.

Halting in the middle of the stone-paved path, Allison Worley blinked back tears. She took her bearings. Saw to her right the neatly trimmed privet hedge that bordered two sides of the garden. The neatly laid geometric beds framed by it were alight with the different colors of spring blooms. Red tulips blazed here, golden daffodils glowed there. Her gaze went automatically to the more serene colors and halted on the toss up of blue hyacinths and pink tulips.

The blues and pinks jumbled as if tossed by a careless hand. They probably had been tossed but there was not a careless notion in any part of its design. If one looked carefully and adjusted for one or two tulips out of line, Allison saw a capital A on the larger corner. Framing three corners of the pale blue trellis was an “L.” A half sob escaped and Allison bolted for the garden seat angled within the sides of the trellis on the paving stones.

Sinking onto the wrought iron bench Allison gasped for a quieting breath. She clenched her fingers on the edge of the seat. The iron was cold despite the sun. It spoke to the chill numbing her heart. “It’s wrong that the iron is cold,” was all Allison could think. “It glowed red gold and white with heat when Davin forged the pieces of this bench. It should be warm still with the love he used to create it.”

But it’s cold. Cold as his body, Reason twitted.

“No. No,” Allison repeated dumbly. She twisted about on the bench and desperately drank in the blues and pinks of the blooms, the greens of stems, leaves, grass and hedge. They shouted “Life!” and with heart, mind, and soul, Allison echoed them. “Life! We were to have a long long life together. We were to see these flowers, this trellis, the hedge year after year. No,” she whispered as the flare of energy drained from her. “I won’t believe it. Never, Davin. Never.”

Allison closed her eyes. She made her mind’s eye dart from the sight of those two military officers on her door step two weeks ago; from the dreadful news they brought of Davin’s death in Afghanistan. She fled to the memory of Davin’s arms about her as they sat on this bench. He had promised that pink tulips would spell an A and L if only she looked carefully. Allison had hugged him fiercely after Davin explained their pink color would bespeak of his gratitude and appreciation for her love and as a pledge of his.

“Davin,” Allison cried, eyes still tightly squeezed shut, as she clung to her belief that he still lived. They had refused to tell her what had happened; told her it was better she remember her husband as she’s last seen him, not as the IED had left him and his fellow soldiers. She shuddered at the scenes that filled her nightmares. How could it be better not to know?

“Allie,” a voice croaked softly. “Allie?”

Blinking back tears Allison braced herself to present a braver face for Davin’s father. She owed Davin that much. Both hands to her cheeks, she brushed back tears and forced her eyes open. The figure before her blurred in her tears’ sheen. Allison growled angrily at the mirage and knuckled her eyes fiercely. “Please go inside, Dad,” she said with iron willed resolve not to upset this dear man anymore than he was. “I’ll come inside in a moment. Why don’t you set the kettle on?”

“Give me a smile and I’ll go do that,” the familiar voice urged.

If only Dad didn’t sound so much like Davin. I’ve got to get past that . . . and so much else. With a last swipe of her eyes Allison said, “I’ll come with you, Dad. We’ll have a cup together.” She stood and took a step forward and then froze in place.

“I’ve aged,” Davin croaked, “and am a tad worse for wear but really, Alli—”

“Dear God,” Allison gasped, her eyes wide, searching. A thick bandage covered half of his face and another his throat, his left arm was in a cast but it was Davin. Eyes overflowing with tears and heart flooded with gratitude, Allison gently took him into her arms and laid her head on his chest. Explanations could wait. She didn’t care what they were. The assuring steady thump beat of his heart brought a huge lump to her throat. Acknowledging her miracle Allison said a silent prayer for the woman whose man would not return.


If Lindy closed her eyes she could hear her mother or grandmother whispering those words in her ear. Of course they’d be trying to sooth the longing in her heart—they’d walked in her shoes. As a child Lindy hadn't realized or even cared how wise these beautiful women were, but since they'd both gone to heaven, she'd give anything to hear them say it again.

How was it possible to be so miserable and so happy at the same time?

Lindy linked her arm with her husband's. The flesh to flesh connection wouldn't last long in the sweltering room. Sweat beaded his tan forehead. He fanned himself, clenching his jaw in silent agony every time someone else just had to squeeze through. Did it matter that the seats were cramped? The arena crowded and noisy. The air thick with anticipation and relief. He gave Lindy that familiar smile she'd fallen in love with the first time she'd met him. The smile that stole her heart and closed the deal on their future.

Only she knew him well enough to know his heart was as conflicted as hers.

Sure he was ready to get out of his stiff dress pants and button shirt and back into his jeans and favorite tee. To share a beer and relax in his recliner after a day spent hard at work. But this was one of those moments in time they were bound to share. Bound to endure together.

Today of all days, she'd promised her son she wouldn't cry. As a mother, she'd shed her share of tears from the moment he’d emerged from her womb to the minute he decided what to do with his life. She couldn’t even begin to count all the times she’d gladly wiped his tears, his nose and bandaged his bloody knees and told him that life wasn’t supposed to be easy. Had he listened any better than she had? Had he learned the lesson?

It didn't seem possible that their existence as a family had been woven together by schedules and practices. Vacations spent on basketball courts, baseball diamonds and soccer fields while maintaining an ancient, gas-sucking minivan instead of a more sensible gas conscience sedan. When did this become her life? She'd had such high hopes. Big dreams. Somewhere in time their hopes and dreams transferred to his growing shoulders. Their only child. His dreams had become theirs. His goals their driving forces.

Sitting next to her husband she couldn't believe this day was finally here. Where had the time gone? Memories cleverly contained on scrapbook pages marked their lives. Important events celebrated with trophies, certificates and long ago healed bruises and black eyes they could laugh about now.

Their son would be leaving them soon. On to bigger and better things. Their lives were about to become their own again. Scattered thoughts flitted through her mind like pieces to a puzzle. Would they go back to eating dinner in front of the television every night—like they’d done before he was born? Who would drink the cases of Gatorade stacked in the garage or eat the boxes of Lucky Charms in the cabinet? No longer would she have to buy three gallons of milk every week or plan her shopping trips with her son’s appetite in mind.

Sitting at her only child's high school graduation, Lindy watched her son walk across the stage to get his diploma. Her husband took her hand in his. He held it tight and she felt a spark of hope for their future for their own long forgotten dreams.

No, life wasn't supposed to be easy, but it was worth it.


A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Can you see it in their eye?
The wheels are turning, plots are forming, thickening, taking unexpected twists.
Goals, motivations and conflicts are all churning as invisible people whisper words that cry out to be laid on paper.
Yes, behind the eyes of these seemingly ordinary women...romance novels lurk.
You'd never know it to look at them but they have killed off numerous secondary characters, put the ashes of dead husbands in Mason jars and made a pencil chewing rabbit a plot device. They've even done the impossible...they turned a doctor into a hero. What do these women have in common? They all know exactly how the story will end. The hero will win the heroine and happily ever after will live on.
Why do they do it? What drives them?
Who can say. The answers may never be known, but rest assured, they are not alone.
Thousands of such women exist. One may be sitting in front of your computer at this very moment.
Compelled by some inner voice, they strive to quench the need we all have to believe in fairy tales, true love and great sex. Yes, romance lives in the hearts and minds of women everywhere. Share some with the women, and men, in your life. Write on.
We're going to do something a little different with our blog this month. Our bloggers are going to post a picture and a story to go with it. I can't wait to see what everyone comes up with. Check back soon and enjoy the many talents of our WARA writers.