If Only, February 3, 2023

This Show Case features eight pieces submitted in response to our thirty-fifth Writing Prompt: If only. You can see responses to each prompt in the drop down menu for the Show Case page. Try an item. They are all delicious. We hope they stimulate your mind, spirit, and urge to write. Maybe they will motivate you to submit a piece for our next prompt, which you can find on the Show Case home page.

And please share this Show Case with your family, friends, and other writers.

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California Housing

by GD Deckard

Roy’s foray into oceanfront property development required investors with vision. He pointed grandly to his subdivision. “Sea Ville Subdivision is exactly, precisely, accurately and quite correctly named, Sea Ville!”

“It’s underwater.” Roy’s banker stood on the beach, looking like he couldn’t believe the obvious. “I thought you meant financially. Not -” he indicated the obvious.

“I told you. I’m a developer with vision. And Sea Ville is a no-brainer. All we need do is pump out some water and tidy up.”

“Tidy up?” The man jerked his head. “This is the Pacific Ocean!”

“Yes. Retaining walls will be an ongoing expense. But they won’t cost the owners as much as you might think. I know California home buyers. They will dive right into this subdivision. You’ll see.”

“I’m sorry. When you said oceanfront property…. If only I had known this.” The portly, well-dressed man paused and spoke slowly and clearly. “Roy, we will have to recall the loan.”

“I spent it.”

“Spent it? On what?” Looking around, the banker could see no sign of construction. Just beach and water. “You haven’t built anything. Not even,” he stepped back as a wave lapped his shoes. “Not even an entry road!”

“Advertising. And lawyers,” Roy added thoughtfully. “As you can see, these lots are not on the side of the water commonly associated with oceanfront property.”

His banker nodded numbly. “What advertising? I haven’t seen any advertising.”

“Oh. Here.” Roy held up a flyer. “I need to hold onto this. We don’t want any hardcopies floating around.” He read the headlines aloud. “Low Cost! Immersive Views! Easy Garbage Removal!” He folded the flyer back into his pocket. “Actually, I only advertise on cell phones. And only in California. These people already build houses at the edges of eroding cliffs, on the sides of muddy hills, over earthquake faults, inside tinder-dry forests, even at the bottom of flood plains. Californians love nature. They won’t blink twice at Sea Ville’s risks.”

The banker stroked his chin. “Prospective buyers will not see the lots before buying them?”

“Of course not. Only carefully selected views on their cell phones.”

“And the legal documents. They will be …safely drawn up?”

Roy had chosen his banker well. “Of course. And everything will self-delete from their phones once the money transfers.”

“And when these Californian buyers do see their lot?”

Roy grinned. “They’ll lobby state government to subsidize the retaining walls.”

“Hmmm….”

What followed was a classic business handshake. And more California houses.

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Soliloquy in Two Voices

by Mellow Curmudgeon

“Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”

~Thomas Edison

If only I had known how badly Edison fudged the numbers in all versions of his quote, I could have lowered my sights and tried to find a career that did not demand more than I could give, even with years of quasimonastic dedication fueled by caffeine and adrenaline.  If only I had known to aim lower, I could have been happier.

Maybe, but the hypothetical happier me would not be the actual me, emergent from decades of choices and experiences, some good and some bad.  Those choices and experiences did not latch onto a separate soul as if they were remoras riding on a shark.  BTW, that different (and maybe happier) person would have his own “If only …” musings.

~  ~  ~  ~

https://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/12/14/genius-ratio/

~  ~  ~  ~

I liked the use of font changes (rather than quote marks and phrases like “said Fritz”) in a story told entirely with dialog in an earlier Show Case piece by John Correll.  Did not expect to use that trick myself, until I wanted to write an internal monolog that contrasted two aspects of the silent speaker’s thinking.  Thanks, John.

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If Only Books Were Wishes

by SL Randall

Artwork by SL Randall

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Great Minds Thinking Alike

by Mimi Speike

Barn Elms and Walsingham House in London were both large, imposing structures. The in-town address was an obvious hive of agent activity. Barn Elms pretended to be a country retreat, but the spy-work went on as relentlessly there, albeit more discreetly. 

Father and son-in-law both had wide circles of acquaintances: Operational and social connections. Large, intermarried families. A stream of couriers came and went. (A family of three had stable space for seventy horses.) Dinner was always a well-attended affair. Who often wasn’t there? Phillip. Sir Francis trusted his son-in-law completely and sent him on sensitive assignments at home and abroad. 

Penelope Rich despised her husband, spent as little time in his presence as she could get away with, and took lovers openly and shamelessly. She and Bunny might have been the original ‘Sense and Sensibility’. Penelope was impetuous and demanding. Her flamboyant way of going at life had a powerful appeal for a man who weighed every decision with an eye to his professional advancement. Frances Walsingham had been taught to contain her emotions and keep her own counsel. Wife and former mistress could hardly have been more unlike. He’d broken off with Lady Rich when he married, but she’d made it clear she yearned to resume the association. 

* * *

Bunny doesn’t want to mingle. She refuses to be accosted by those nasty Beale girls again. She, all her life, has been a model of decorum, a poised young lady who never says anything that ought not to be said. But everyone has a breaking point.

“We’re headed upstairs,” she tells Gigi. “I’ll plead a raging headache. Phillip would not approve, but he’s not here, is he?” 

“Nor would I.” Bunny’s been overheard. “And I am here. You’re your husband’s hostess, m’ darling. You are to circulate gracefully, as always.” Ursula Walsingham calls to one some paces behind her. “Here she is. I told you we’d find her. Doctor Dee,” she tells her daughter, “is ready to delight us with his superb musicianship. He asks that you accompany him. Don’t you dare disappoint your Uncle Dee.” Dee’s known Bunny all her life. He’s closer to her than her genuine uncles.

Dee steps through the door. Sensing an argument at hand, he intervenes. “I’ll take over, Ursula. You go about your business. Bunny and I are good friends.1 I’m sure we can work this out.” He’s wide a-smile, until he spots the cat. Bending low, as if to scratch under Sly’s chin, he jerks it upward, so to look the animal straight in the eye. He hisses, “I believe I told you to wait in the coach. What are you up to here?” He yanks Sly’s ruff.

Bunny brightens. “This is your sweetheart? I might have guessed it. You’ve put a spell on him. I swear he understands every word I say.” It’s as good an explanation as any. She believes (or pretends to) John Dee capable of anything. He’s entertained her with silly tricks since she was a toddler.

“My dear,” he says. “I’ve taught this critter to play  —  after a fashion — the kit viol. I intend for him to accompany me tonight. Won’t that be fun? I would love you to join us, on your harp.” 

Bunny grimaces.

“Tell your Uncle Dee what the problem is.”

“What’s this,” she cries, “what’s this I was just told? It’s too much to bear!”

“What were you told, child?”

“John, in the Marshalsea!2 Can it be true?” Her Beale cousins had been delighted to share the information with her. 

Dee sighs. It was bound to come out. “My dear, it was a cruel but necessary move. Look at you! You’re wife to one foremost in Her Majesty’s esteem. Good things are in store for him, and for you. It’s worked out for the best, I’d say.”

Bunny bursts into tears.

Dee frowns. “Georgina, help Lady Sidney to her rooms. Sit with her until she recovers herself. A snifter of brandy ought to fix her up. As for me, I believe I’ll enjoy this lovely breeze. I’ll stroll in the garden. We’ll stroll.” He glares at the cat.

He hasn’t spied Delly. Delly’s been hiding behind Georgina’s skirts. Sly posts himself beside her. His arm is draped around her neck. Her face is buried in his fur. She yearns to be back in her hen house, locked in, safe for the night.

* * *

Dee is seated on a stone bench in the moonlight. He’s muttering, “What a mess. What a damn-blasted mess!” Ten minutes go by of, Fool! Pair of fools. Damn the both of them — and worse. This is said, not of Sly and poor Delly, he’s castigating Francis Walsingham and Robert Dudley.

Finally, Sly confronts him. “Sir! Have you spoken with Mr. Secretary?”

“I have not.”

“Yes. Yes, of course. He’s busy with his guests. I do understand. When do you mean to approach him?”

“I don’t intend to approach him.” 

“You don’t! What do you intend?”

“I’d be glad to tell you, if only I knew. We’ll play this by ear.”

“My own approach exactly, always. Hey! Are we a pair, or are we a pair? You ’n me, working together, we’ll be on top of this situation in no time.” 

* * *

Sly has always been quick-witted, sharp as a tack. He has the ego to think he might inspire Dee to rediscover the intellectual rigor that had characterized his earlier activities. These seances of his are a sad come-down from former fascinations. He has a few proposals to present to the man, but Dudley must be dealt with, then they may explore possibilities that have been buzzing around his brain for a good while. John Dee, his reputation as a Magus well-established, would be the perfect collaborator on one venture in particular.3

* * *

“I wouldn’t bet on it,” spits Dee, “Mr. Secretary’s loyalty is to the state, not to Elizabeth herself. To maintain the security of the realm is his ultimate goal. He and Leicester are political allies. As of last November, they are family as well. If Dudley commits a treason, there goes Phillip’s inheritance. That may warp his judgement, we can’t rule it out. I’ve struck a deal with Señor Del Gado. He has a chance to distinguish himself with good service to Crown and Country. I told him, name your price.

“I ask myself, would Sir Francis, learning of the plot, move against his relative? I cannot give myself a firm no on that. He is cut-throat in respect to what he feels is necessary to be done. His treatment of John Wickerson has brought this home to me. He supports Elizabeth because she is the bedrock of a stable nation, but his loyalty is to the Protestant state, not to the office-holder. Mary signed her abdication under duress; Catholic fanatics will contest it. If Mary is helped to the throne, she will take a Spanish bridegroom; her reign will be backed by the might of Spain. 

“Lord Robert sees a path to the power he’s lusted after, his father’s same failing, it’s in the bloodline. He may honestly believe it his patriotic duty to marry the Scot and keep her nasty impulses in check, lest we be saddled with a second Bloody Mary. Additionally, he’s recently lost his son, his hope for the continuation of his line. I have to believe he’s suffering a mental collapse. The infamy is too outrageous an idea for anyone in his right mind to contemplate.”

“He’s already married!”

“I have two words for you. Amy Robsart.”4 

“You’re kidding, right? You gotta be kidding.”

“I don’t put it past him. In his impaired state, there’s no telling what he’d do. Shush. Here comes Closette. Closette! Has our girl downed her glass of brandy?” 

Closette laughs. “She’s downed two.”

“Is she …”

“She’s nodded off. Let’s let her be. I’ll poke her awake in half an hour.” 

“Perfect. I’ve time for a snort myself. Not the stuff served those free-loaders in there. Fetch me out the bottle in the cabinet in the library.” Dee sighs. “No, wait. Bad idea. I’d be tempted to over-do, and I have a performance to give. Bring me a pitcher of ale. And a little something to chew on. Bring a selection of cheeses, and a bowl of the grapes, if they are yet to be had.” Sir Francis has served a variety of soft cheeses paired with fig jam, his own sugar pears, and the first grapes of the season, as the cap-off to the meal, in the French fashion.

* * *

  1. Bunny will stand godmother to Dee’s daughter Madima.
  2. The Marshalsea was a notorious prison in London.
  3. Nostradamus is making a killing in France, off his pamphlets. Dee (with Sly’s help, natch) could do as well, or better.
  4. Amy Robsart was Robert Dudley’s first wife, who died in a fall down cellar stairs. Dudley, suspected of being behind the death, was cleared by a closed coroner’s jury. That, of course, only added to the speculation.

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Broken

by John Correll

If only this stops. 

So many promises, and yet the bottle returns after a month, a week, day after day. Splintered shards of emptiness spill anger, hostility, slurred speech, and dazed blinking eyes. A blinded vision waiting for the morning of more regret. Or more anger? And I lavish sorries when I’m unsure of my faults and madness. Where does wrong linger when your love, an equally dazed satellite, dances around your world? Tethered tightly.

So many promises with huge hopes for every innocent babe. Hopes crying for miracles of steadfastness, resilience, or unbreakable resolve, knowing all too well the scarred record skipping back — over, over, and over. 

Alone, I plan, but pledges anchor my sunken voyage to nowhere. Behind me, crumbled maps litter my quiet eddies, and ahead, my compass spins on the edge. No return, no forward, no change. 

Yet, this must stop.

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My Three Dogs, Come, Sit, and Stay

by John Correll

My three dogs, Come, Sit, and Stay; if only they would listen.

“Come, Stay, and Sit, come. Come here you stupid mutts.

“Stay, sit. Sit, come. Come stay. Stop fighting. 

“Roll over, Sit, Stay, and Come. What the hell.

“Come, stop doing that to Stay. Bad dog. 

“Sit, Sit. What did I say! Come, Come. Watch it! Stay, Stay. Hey! Look at me. Finally, good dogs. I’ve got wonderful news. Tomorrow we’re babysitting my girlfriend’s three puppies, Paw, Roloaver, and Lydown. She says they’re way better behaved than you.

“So when they come I want you to be your best. Let’s practice, Sit, paw.

“Good.

“Come, roll over. Stay, lie down. 

“Excellent. You’ll be perfect with the pups.”

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Darren and Dunia Camping

by SL Randall

Artwork by SL Randall

The fire crackled merrily. Flames licked at the spit, while Darren slowly rotated it. The skinned glabelhammies browned nicely as the fat dripped into the fire. Dunia approached, her steps stealthy and light. He barely heard her over the crackle of spitted meat.

“Those smell fabulous,” she murmured as she warmed her hands near the flames.

“Did you stake the kayaks?”

“Yes. How long till those are ready?”

“A little while longer, can you make some tea?”

Dunia grunted her assent.

As she poured tea, Darren removed the glabelhammies from the spit.

“Such weird creatures,” noted Dunia, as she handed him a cup of tea.

“I always think it’s what you would get if you crossed a hamster with a beetle.”

Dunia chuckled, “I can see where you would think that. I studied them in my zoology class a couple semesters ago. They’re quite fascinating as well as unique.” She peeled a piece of meat off the crispy carcass on her plate, “If only they weren’t so greasy!”

Darren bit directly into the bulbous midsection. Meaty juice ran into his beard. Nothing beat a spit grilled glabelhammie. 

Dunia went on, “Like the rest of earth’s creatures, the G-hammie crawled out of the oceans. Unlike other mammals, it kept it’s segmented body, so if you examine it’s skeletal structure, it has an odd barrel shaped midsection. As you can tell those legs appear to be vestigial, yet for years scientists assumed they once had wings. That’s been debunked. They now know the G-hammie used those legs for climbing.”

“Seriously? Climbing?” he chuckled. “Considering this particular chubber I’m chewing on now, he’s wandered far from his genetic origins!”

“You can’t say that.” corrected Dunia.

“Say what?”

“Chubber. It’s not socially acceptable.”

Darren looked around, “Right, because we’re sitting in the middle of society right now.” He shook his head, “Sometimes I can’t tell if you’re joking or not.”

Dunia frowned, “I don’t joke. The point is, whether or not you are surrounded by people, you should always do the right thing.”

Darren rolled his eyes. “I don’t get you. Most of the time you are the coolest badass I’ve ever met but at times, like right now, you turn into an uptight pious nerd!”

Dunia reached for the spit.

“Leave the pointy stick alone,” he said. “You have to know by now I have only the highest regard for you.”

Dunia went back to eating her glabelhammie. After a few minutes, she said, “You’re a jackass.”

Darren grinned. He knew he was forgiven. “Tomorrow, I intend to catch some nice fat and juicy land squids for dinner.” He wasn’t surprised when the skeletal remains of her glabelhammie bounced off his head.

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Turn Up the Sound

by S.T. Ranscht

Image by Alina Nichepurenko on Unsplash
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49 responses to “If Only, February 3, 2023”

  1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

    If only I could thank all of you for your work as well as you deserve, you would all be rich and famous.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. mimispeike Avatar
    mimispeike

    Sandy, this is such fun! And you, like David Crosby, give me lines for Sly. Thank you for this: “… whether or not you are surrounded by people, you should always do the right thing.”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Sandy Randall Avatar

      I’m glad the fun I had writing it comes through. GD provided the Glabelhammie inspiration. The first time I saw that word … this scene started for me.
      I honored that you found a line of my writing usable for Sly!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. mimispeike Avatar
    mimispeike

    Mellow, I have the same problem. You’ve made a valuable suggestion. Thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Mellow Curmudgeon Avatar

      Thanks.  Glad to be helpful when I can’t be funny.  When I can’t be either, I avoid autobiographical material.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. GD Deckard Avatar

    Soliloquy in Two Voices by Mellow Curmudgeon
    Fascinating approach, MC. It is structured similar to an old time radio show, one where the story is carried by dialogue. It draws me into the story.

    If Only Books Were Wishes by SL Randall
    The meaning and the artwork go together perfectly, Sandy.
    And, Roy has the perfect reading-by-the-sea property to sell you! (Bring a snorkel.)

    Great Minds Thinking Alike by Mimi Speike
    I love the detail in your writing, Mimi. It quickens the characters, their relationships, and their circumstances.

    Broken by John Correll
    Beautifully expressed anguish, John.

    Turn Up the Sound by S.T. Ranscht
    Reading this, you can feel it. Cool!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. mimispeike Avatar
      mimispeike

      Exactly what a story is supposed to do, GD. You all know by now that I am not plot-obsessed. Keep it moving is not for me. (Obviously)

      I’ll say it again. These characterizations, though I’ve spun them out a little, like a wad of taffy, are all based on the reality.

      Liked by 4 people

    2. Sue Ranscht Avatar

      Thanks, GD! That’s the best I could hope for.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Sandy Randall Avatar

    Well done everyone! I will comment more later … just got off work and need a nap! lol

    Liked by 2 people

  6. mimispeike Avatar
    mimispeike

    GD, your off-the-wall sense of humor comes through again.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. John Correll Avatar

      Spot on GD. After watching the 1991 Oakland fire, I was astonished that people thought building a house on a cliff was a great idea.

      Mellow, glad to have been of assistance.

      Sandy, a book by the sea is best.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. John Correll Avatar

        Sandy, I’m beginning to like Dunia. Is that what’s intended? I thought she was the baddie.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Sandy Randall Avatar

          That’s good John, my evil plot is working! Seriously though, Dunia is definitely on the good side. It’s Sophia that’s naughty. Darren is in Sophia’s pocket, though he’d rather be like Dunia, but he just doesn’t know how. All these little vignettes are me figuring these characters out (Stealing from Mimi’s style a little bit and a little bit of GD’s “Royism’s”)
          Above all I am to entertain, please and delight my readers. If this is working, I am learning. lol

          Liked by 4 people

  7. mimispeike Avatar
    mimispeike

    John, Broken reads like poetry. It is lovely.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Sandy Randall Avatar

    GD:
    I hope you are planning to publish Roy’s unabridged tale. What a treasure trove of stories, just about one guy. I so hope you and Victor get something written together. Then whatever you guys come up with, you need to hand it over to Mimi. I think Sly commenting in, around and between the narrative would be so much fun. You could call it the Motley Mashup!
    I may have to update my “reading by the sea” and paint a “Reading in an undersea grotto”

    Mellow:
    Your thoughts on a life lived, up against “what if” is essentially a fork in the road as we get older. Either we can wallow in regret over the road not taken or simply understand the choices we made in the past are based on the best experience and data we had at the time the choice was presented and move on.
    Thank you for providing the quote investigator link. tracking down a quote is always a time consuming and often disappointing exercise.

    Mimi:
    I agree with GD, in addition your use of history strengthens not only the narrative, but firmly fixes your characters, whether fictional or not, into the world. Years from now, if no other works survive but your historical tale, it might confuse future anthropologists into thinking talking cats and genteel chickens actually existed.

    John:
    I love your versatility. You always present such different types of writing. From deep angst and dependency to lighthearted rollicking fun. If I didn’t know better I would have guessed two different writers! Just FYI, your dog stories always stay with me. I find them particularly relatable.

    Sue:
    A call to action, a call to not sit and spectate the horrors happening. As always you inspire self reflection of your readers.
    I’m curious about the image. Is it a photograph? I love how you dropped the last line at the bottom. The color of the last line emphasizes your message.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. mimispeike Avatar
      mimispeike

      I’ve been agonizing about how to bring this segment (the assassination plot) to a close. I’m not really happy with any of my ideas. This morning I ordered off Amazon two bios of Sir Phillip Sidney. The blurb on one got my wheels to spinning. It said: In spite of his status as a national treasure and, ultimately, a national hero, Sidney may well have considered himself a failure. Bingo! This may be the key to the thing.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Sandy Randall Avatar

        I love how that happens!
        Some of my stories sit shelved until some little tidbit gives me the wheel turn I need to open the door of the next passage!
        Writing is such a maze…
        Reminds me of the Fellowship of the Ring where they sit outside the mines of Moria trying to find the right word or phrase to open the door!

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Sue Ranscht Avatar

      Thank you, Sandy. I appreciate your kind words. Inspiring self-reflection is a lofty aspiration I can never be certain I’ve achieved.

      I spent so long finding the right background and positioning the text, I just realized I’d left the image credit off. It was described as a photograph, but I’m pretty sure it was processed so parts of it look more like a chalk drawing. After trying the color at the brightest spot of the sun and one of the yellows at the sun’s edge for the last line, I decided I really like the orange surrounding the sun best. It pops out from the dark brown, but still belongs to the composition.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Sandy Randall Avatar

        I agree, I think the orange was perfect for keeping the piece intact.

        Liked by 1 person

    3. Mellow Curmudgeon Avatar

      Quote Investigator is a gr8 resource with many surprises.  Misattribution is common.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Sue Ranscht Avatar

    GD — I know Mimi feels that character development can’t happen in short stories, but Roy’s character has been clear from his first appearance, with subtle nuances expanding within each story. As our experience of him grows, I think he becomes more complex, and I’m hoping we may see more of his interior life/conflict as time goes by — perhaps some insight through flashbacks to his childhood in the Everglades. How did he get to be this way? (As an aside, only the very wealthy in CA can afford oceanfront property, so — if Roy actually holds any legal ownership claim to the normally publicly-held land he’s hawking — he might start suggesting potential buyers consider dropping foundations down to bedrock, and constructing erosion-proof castle/fortresses guaranteed to ruin enhance their landlocked oceanfront neighbors’ views.)

    Mel — The first voice expresses the certainty most people who feel regret have in looking back, that things would have been better if only… I think people who then hear the second voice acknowledging that we can never really know how things might have worked out if we’d done something differently, are bound to be happier for not regretting, but seeing their pasts realistically. It seems to me you’ve revealed a truth of human nature in a very satisfying way.

    Sandy — Your artwork is a perfect complement to your text. I love the bright colors and fanciful land/sea scape. I’m especially fond of the bell bottoms that — but for the foot —could be a mermaid’s tail.

    Mimi — The push and pull between your characters seem stronger in this episode than I’ve noticed before. I think your portrayal of Dee has a lot to do with that. He and Sly create a powerful dynamic together.

    John — In Broken, the anguish and hopelessness ending in a clear view of what must happen, but with little trust that it can, is cringe-inducing and heartrending. Well done.

    What a welcome and playful contrast My Three Dogs provides!

    Sandy — My impression of Darren in this piece is that he’s pretty happy with himself as he is. His relationship with Dunia seems playful, but I’m not sensing any real dissatisfaction from either of them. I mean, if you really disapprove of a person, I think you would refrain from throwing garbage at their head, lol.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. mimispeike Avatar
      mimispeike

      Well, that’s not quite it. I feel characterization is difficult in a few hundred words, unless it builds upon previous acquaintance. GD and Sandy both do this.

      Or unless you’re giving us a snapshot, a moment.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. GD Deckard Avatar

      LOL, Sue! “constructing erosion-proof castle/fortresses guaranteed to ruin enhance their landlocked oceanfront neighbors’ views.”

      So, the very wealthy CA oceanfront property owners are actually Roy’s market here. He could sell them, “Tidal front lots – Guarantee your view!”

      Hmm. Roy said to thank you for this insight.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

        Please tell Roy he’s welcome to any insight I can provide. I won’t even expect acknowledgement. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

    3. Sandy Randall Avatar

      “Well, that’s not quite it. I feel characterization is difficult in a few hundred words, unless it builds upon previous acquaintance.” Thanks Mimi, this explains my thoughts nicely. I agree Sue, with your sentiments “I mean, if you really disapprove of a person, I think you would refrain from throwing garbage at their head, lol.” Which highlights my need to continue to work out the Dunia/Darren dynamic. At the moment, the bits I’m showing are Dunia and Darren as they get to know each other. They’re both young … Dunia around 19 or 20 and Darren late 20’s.
      Darren is still young, idealistic and bound by his moral code. At some point he ditches his code for his ambition. Dunia keeps her’s intact, though becomes “Tainted by proximity” to Darren.
      That and the actual focus of this particular piece was the Glabelhammie🤣 … The parting shot with carcass was also an inside joke from the author to two of the authors kids …
      My oldest son (who is ten years older than his sister) was teasing her about getting bit by a land squid while she slept. … I figured if I was going to have my characters spit grilling glabelhammies, they could hunt land squids for their next meal as well.
      Totally unfair to my readers, but so much satisfying fun for me to write lol.

      Liked by 2 people

    4. Sandy Randall Avatar

      Also Sue, Thank you. My artwork for ‘If only Book were wishes’ actually inspired the poem. As to the mermaids tail … I chuffed you caught that. While painting it I paused to consider whether I made the subject a mermaid or not, then decided that it made more sense to continue with what it means to get lost in a book. You imagine yourself a mermaid, but while you imagine, you still come back to reality yet, the magic glow of the book clings to you… Besides barefoot, reading by the sea … such heaven.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. GD Deckard Avatar

    Sandy,
    “Sly commenting in, around and between the narrative would be so much fun.” 😏 A “Motley Mashup” indeed.

    But that is a very creative idea, Sandy: Could we all write a story together? Each of us writing in a character that does what that character does best, into a situation that has a plot?

    We could use a weekly post to lay out the idea and invite writers to join in. The story itself could develop in the comments section of the post.

    Not sure how it would work, but maybe the post could be about the story’s plot situation and different writers could use the comments section to add their character into the story?

    Anybody think we can pull that off? (😝 If not, we can blame Sandy. It was her idea.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sandy Randall Avatar

      I think it could work. .. and it would be a lot of fun, kind of like “Improv at the Puppet show” or in a more real world experience, Drew Carey’s “Whose Line is it Anyway?” show. There’s no one like Robin Williams who can pull off a successful Stream of Consciousness, but A companion blog to our Motley Sciveners could be the weekly Motley Mashup …

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Sue Ranscht Avatar

      Or maybe a relay kind of writing where the first author ends with “over to you, Sandy.” And so on till someone finishes the tale.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. mimispeike Avatar
    mimispeike

    The idea of taking on another project exhausts me. I’ve got too many balls in the air now. Sorry, I just can’t do it.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Sandy Randall Avatar

      Smart lady! When thinking of doing something feels exhausting … it’s a good idea to listen.

      I like to think of the Motley Mashup like the conversations we have here, but from the voice of our favorite character. For those of us developing a character, it’s a good opportunity to figure out how that character behaves in a variety of situations … I think the idea comes to me from Sue’s sarcasm experiment.

      Perhaps that can provide another resource for you, while working in a specific project, rather than viewing it as a whole new endeavor?

      Liked by 3 people

      1. mimispeike Avatar
        mimispeike

        I’ll think about that.

        Liked by 3 people

  12. mimispeike Avatar
    mimispeike

    I’m a little low tonight. Not sure why. Stressed out, I guess. I’m writing the fiddle scene now. Almost got it done. It’s about four Showcases down the road. Oh God. What comes after that?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

      Sounds like you could use some rest. Four Show Cases means about a month and a half to think about what comes next and write it. Time to decompress.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Sandy Randall Avatar

      I agree with Sue. All work and no play leads to “The Shining”, Jack Nicholson and Redrum.
      Take a break.
      Let someone else play fiddle for a minute…

      Liked by 2 people

  13. GD Deckard Avatar

    We could try it for this week. Make it easy. Writers can join, or not. A post like that once in a while could be a fun.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sandy Randall Avatar

      I think so too. It makes the site interactive. That’s what I really like about Showcase too. But this is more immersive. I hope it will prompt others to set scenes as well.

      Liked by 2 people

  14. Mellow Curmudgeon Avatar

    Got mired in other things and was late in getting to this episode.  So far, I only have something to add to the comments on 2 pieces.  If only there were more hours in a day …

    @GD

    Love that Roy draws a straight line from nutty things people really do (and not just in CA) to his even nuttier project.

    Hamlet, Ahab, Sherlock Holmes, …., Roy?  Hope U are ready for the responsibility that comes with creating a character so embedded in our culture that he resonates with many more folks than have read particular works recently.  Remember what happened when Doyle tried to stop writing about Holmes?

    @ST

    The text layout in this superb haiga works gr8 with both the swerve between the middle and final lines in the haiku and the visual swerve in the image.  It’s also unusual to find the [if] in [if only] used as a straightforward conditional rather than a counterfactual.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

      Thanks very much, Mel. My goal is always to find an image that enhances the writing both visually and intellectually, in hopes of achieving dynamic movement, balance, and tension. If I can’t think of at least two interpretations of any prompt that comes to mind, I’ll think of something else. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

    2. GD Deckard Avatar

      Thanks, MC. Actually, it’s comments like yours that keep Roy alive & uh, working.

      Liked by 3 people

  15. Mellow Curmudgeon Avatar

    @ SL — Camping

    Fleshing out the characters in little vignettes is working much better for me than I could have guessed, and the notion of a land squid is delightfully goofy.

    There’s a speed bump in showing Dunia’s insistence on doing what’s right, even if nobody is watching.  When she objects to Darren’s use of the word [chubber] (as “not socially acceptable”), her phrase sounds like a long way to say [gauche] and I tend to agree with Darren.  Don’t be prissy about etiquette when camping.  I googled [chubber] and found the obvious usage as short for [chubby person] as well as a nasty usage for a specific kind of chubby person.  Maybe Dunia heard that usage, but it’s not obvious.  Maybe her phrase was meant more in the sense of [not politcaly correct] or [not woke], but those alternatives have their own problems.  Calling an overweight young woman a “chubber” is cruel, but they are discussing the fatty meat of an animal they are eating, w/o any qualms about carnivory.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Sandy Randall Avatar

      Thanks Mel, I agree with you.
      But in this instance, I look at the piece as more of a quick drawing to get an idea of where I’m going with these characters. Dunia and her morals are sometimes ridiculous and not very well thought out. As someone who once was a young woman, I remember being certain I was correct on a point of “morality” only to later realize, I was simply parroting what I was taught, or better yet, what I “thought” I was taught. In my early twenties, I thought I knew way more than I absolutely know I don’t know in my late fifties. Exploring Dunia this way is in a sense exploring what a young woman leaving home and figuring out the wide world is all about, while carrying a giant chip on her shoulder to hide her insecurities.
      Hopefully as I get to know her better, my writing of her will improve.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Sandy Randall Avatar

        PS … The land squid was made up by my oldest son when he was 17 to taunt his younger sister who was 7. He tried to convince her that the mosquito bite was actually from a land squid that bit her in the night.
        Best part, we were at a restaurant. He got the waitress to go along with him. She was a biology student and told my daughter all about “land squids”
        When my son got married in 2021 … my daughter was one of his “groomsmen” He gave her a land squid for his groom gift. He had to mashup a barbie doll with a lobster to create it. I spawned comedians ….

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Mellow Curmudgeon Avatar

        My comment overemphasized the merits of what Dunia said and underemphasized what her remarks suggested about her character at that point in her life.

        Maybe I still overcompensate for having often been among people with the opposite imbalance, so intent on responding to an imagined subtext that they ignore what I actually say.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Sandy Randall Avatar

          lol don’t overthink it Mel. Your comments are very helpful. I love the insight you have. In a finished and polished piece of work, I would hope that I would be able to pick these things out as well, but this is definitely nowhere near finished nor polished … However, whenever you or anyone here proffers on opinion, I take notes. Your experience with writing far outweighs mine.
          While my intentions with the piece are to discover who these characters are, my intention for sharing them are to discover how keen eyes see what I write. Your comments are gold for me!

          Liked by 3 people

  16. Mellow Curmudgeon Avatar

    @ John — Broken

    The vivid description of negative emotions so intense as to be incapacitating stands alone, not connected to plot or character.  Many readers can admire such free-floating descriptions, but I’m not among them.

    @ John — Three Dogs

    The humor in the ill-advised choices of names is a worthy addition to the tradition started (so far as I know) by the *Who’s on First?* routine of Abbott and Costello, but I felt that the piece was trying to milk the joke for more than was in the udder.  Full disclosure: I am a brevity freak.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. mimispeike Avatar
    mimispeike

    Sandy, I’m losing track of who these folks are, but it’s damn fun listening to their conversation.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Sandy Randall Avatar

      Hopefully when I get these characters worked out to my liking, I can put them in their proper spots in their story. For now, I’m just enjoying playing with them like dolls and seeing what they do in any given situation. For me it helps me feel like my characters are people I know, if that makes sense. LOL My imaginary friends …

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Sandy Randall Avatar

        That and stealing GD’s made up words and turning them into things … feels like magic!

        Liked by 3 people

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