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Writing Prompt Wednesday

December 12, 2018
mandyevebarnett


Today’s prompt is a Christmas themed story.

bandstand

Mine is here:

The Bandstand

From the outside the Christmas tree glittered and sparkled with lights, tinsel and ornaments. It’s place in the bay window as always. Miriam gazed at the symbol of Christmas shining like a beacon of family and cheer. Pulling her coat more tightly around her, she walked on stopping at each window to gaze at the many Christmas trees on display along the street.

At the corner she entered the park, the light dimmed the further she walked away from the streetlights. The only beacon of light came from the old bandstand decorated for the season by local authority workers the week before.

She looked forward to attending the carol service the following week – a regular occurrence each year. After looking this way and that, Miriam pushed aside a panel on the side of the bandstand and crawled in.

This was home, a safe place hidden from sight and as comfortable as she could make it. A platform made of old pallets kept her off the cold wet earth, cardboard and an old single mattress on one side and food supplies on the other. She’d been able to hook up a little heater scrounged from a dumpster, to an electrical outlet on the underside of the bandstand to keep warm. To disguise her apartment she’d placed panels on each side so even if the workers crawled under they would not see her. Well, that was her hope.

A can of soup and a stale loaf made a meal and then she lay down to sleep.

Arthur tugged at his dog’s leash.

“Come on, Duke, its getting cold and I need a cup of tea.”

The old dog ignored him and continued to sniff the grass unaffected by his owner’s impatience. As Arthur tapped his foot, he saw a shadow approach the bandstand and disappear under it. Well that’s odd, it’s too late for authority workers and I can’t see a truck. Duke pulled on the leash and Arthur followed him down the path to home. The incident left his mind until two nights later when once again walking Duke; he saw the shadow repeat the disappearance into the bandstand. Now he was curious.

The following evening he walked closer to the bandstand but hid behind a clump of bushes. A figure appeared after sundown and with a glance back and forth crawled under. The person was wrapped up in an old assortment of clothes and could have been man or woman; it was too hard to tell. Was there a homeless person under the bandstand? Well that is sad. Once he returned home he pondered what would be the best thing to do. Report them? Engage them? Leave food and blankets nearby? I’ll sleep on it and make a decision tomorrow.

Miriam saw a box to one side of her secret entrance and stopped in her tracks. Was it discarded, some local workers possession or something else? She looked around but did not see Arthur crouched behind the bushes. Cautiously she approached the box and raised the lid with one foot. Inside were cans and a thick blanket. Conflicting thoughts entered her head. Someone knows where I live, I’ll have to move, a kind benefactor has left me a gift, do I take it or leave it? A slip of paper fluttered and caught on the breeze, she grabbed it before it blew away. A hand written note read:

Hello,

Please do not be alarmed, I will keep your secret but wanted to help you. I have put some supplies in the box. I know it is getting colder and food is probably hard to come by. I happened to notice you while walking my dog one evening. If you need anything my name is Arthur and I live at number 36 Amber Avenue just across from this park.

Miriam read the note twice, it was a long time since someone had been so kind to her. She made up her mind to thank him but to say this gift was enough.

The next evening she took her note and walked Amber Avenue searching the house numbers. To her surprise and delight, number 36 was the house of her favourite tree nestled in the bay window. Tiptoeing carefully, she pushed her note through the letterbox and turned away. A bark halted her tracks. Fearful the dog’s warning would alert Arthur to come to the door, Miriam hid around the corner of the house.

The front door did indeed open and a wet nose and wagging tail found her with ease, followed by an elderly gentleman.

“Well hello, you must be the mysterious bandstand occupant.”

“I’m so sorry, I didn’t want to disturb you, I was leaving a note of thanks. I don’t want to be a bother.”

“No bother at all, it would be lovely to have company, apart from Duke for a change. Why not come in for a cup of tea?”

“Oh, I don’t know, I’m rather dirty to enter a house.”

“Nonsense, just take off your boots, old Duke here comes in with more mud and dirt than anyone I know.”

Miriam took off her boots, curling her toes to try and hide the holes in her socks. Arthur led her into the front room, a fire flickered in the fireplace and that tree stood in pride of place.

“Oh, its so much more beautiful than through the window.”

Arthur smiled. “I always take pride in decorating my tree, the family only come on Boxing Day for the afternoon but its not Christmas without a tree, I always say.”

“I walk past all the houses and look at all the trees and this is my favourite.”

“Well, that’s is kind of you to say. May I ask your name?”

“It’s Miriam.”

“Well, I will make the tea, why not take off your coat and sit by the fire?”

Miriam eased the coat off her shoulders and lay it on the floor. The warmth of the fire was wonderful. Arthur walked in with a tray with a teapot, cups and biscuits.

“Now we can get warm inside and out. Take as many biscuits as you like.”

With the strong tea and several biscuits inside her and the warmth of the fire, Miriam could feel herself getting sleepy.

“Thank you so much for the tea and biscuits and the lovely blanket and food. I should go before I fall asleep.”

“Well, it is up to you but you are more than welcome to stay if you would like.”

A tear rolled down Miriam’s cheek.

“Oh dear, I’m sorry did I upset you?”

“No, no not at all. It has been such a long time since someone has been kind to me, that’s all.”

“Well that settles it. Have a nap and then you can enjoy a bath while I make supper. I should have plenty of clothes in my closet you can choose from, we are close to the same size I think.”

“I don’t know what to say but thank you so very much, this is the best Christmas ever.”

“Tis the season, as they say and it brings me joy to help you.”

Bathed, dressed in clean clothes and feeling peaceful, Miriam re-joined Arthur later to find he had cooked a feast of a meal for them both.

“Are you expecting more people? There is a lot here.”

“No just us two but you are welcome to take the leftovers.”

“You are so kind, thank you.”

“And if I may, I would like to ask you if you would visit me from time to time, I get so lonely you see.”

“I would love to visit again.”

Their glasses clinked as they smiled at each other. Their loneliness forgotten.

 

I would love to read your story or poem.

 

 

 

Writing Prompt Wednesday

December 5, 2018
mandyevebarnett


It’s been raining for days – this is your prompt starter for a poem or short story. Have fun with it.

rain

I wrote this poem.

The Sky Is Low

Clouds rolling overhead

Dark and foreboding

Static in the air

Heralding the storm.

Clouds boiling

Lowering the sky

A flash of lightening

Then thunder booming

Heavy raindrops fall

Hit and splash

Blurred images

Through windowpanes

Dust turns to mud

Feathers and fur sodden

Leaves bent in submission

Drips turn to streams

The scent of rain

Refreshes the acrid heat

Dripping, splashing, cleansing

Welcome relief

Genres of Literature – School Story

December 3, 2018
mandyevebarnett


school story
The school story generally centers on older pre-adolescent and adolescent school life in the first half of the twentieth century. Other narratives do exist in other countries, but the most common theme is English boy or girl boarding schools reflecting the single-sex education typical until the 1950s. The focus is on friendship, honor and loyalty between pupils with plots involving sports events, bullies, secrets, rivalry and bravery.

The popularity declined after the Second World War, but remained popular in other forms, changing the focus to state run coeducational schools, and more modern concerns such as racial issues, family life, sexuality and drugs. The genre’s revival was due to the success of the Harry Potter series, with its many plot motifs.

The first boarding school story was The Governess, or The Little Female Academy by Sarah Fielding, published in 1749. A moralistic tale relaying the lives of nine girls in the school established aspects of the boarding school story repeated in later works. Fielding’s approach was imitated and used by both her contemporaries and other writers into the 19th century.

Even though children were not generally targeted until well into the nineteenth century, due to the concern of moral effects of novels on young minds, and so published narratives tended to lean towards moral instruction. The genre’s peak period was between the 1880s and the end of the Second World War, later comics featuring school stories became popular in the 1930s.

School stories do remain popular, with their shifting focus on more contemporary issues such as sexuality, racism, drugs and family difficulties. As we all know the Harry Potter series has revived the genre significantly, despite it’s fantasy conventions.

Do you (or did you) read school story novels/comics?

Have you written one?

Writing Prompt Wednesday

November 28, 2018
mandyevebarnett


Zen Garden

The prompt today is to use this zen garden as your inspiration.

Here is my response:

Shoulders slumped, feet heavy on the glistening pavement, Jocelyn makes her way home in light rain, which gradually soaks through her jacket and trickles down her back. The grey drizzle matches her mood, yet another day stuck inside the call center, reading by rote the same sales pitch over and over again. This hadn’t been her dream, she had believed she could find a career designing and tending gardens but no-one would hire an inexperienced student so she had make do with the first job offered and there she had stayed. Even after paying rent and all her bills she had a surplus, which was reflected in her savings account but she had nowhere to spend it. Holidays alone did not appeal, a fancy car would stayed parked in the under ground garage most of the time as she could walk to work in less than ten minutes and she wasn’t into fashion. She had made her small apartment a Japanese inspired haven with rich colours and objects; this was where she was happy. Opening the door she placed her lunch bag on the kitchen counter and headed straight for the shower, the warm water soothed her, her silk kimono feeling luxurious against her skin. After a light supper, she sat redefining her Zen garden, comforted by the slow motion of the small wooden tools, watching the fine grains of sand move and the careful placing of the miniature stones.

The sudden ring of the phone breaks her peaceful meditation.

“Hello?”

“Is this Jocelyn Woo?”

“This is Jocelyn, who is calling?”

“Hello Jocelyn, my name is Harry Kyoto, I was given your number by George Ita at the Sumay Garden Center. He told me you were very talented at design when you worked with him in your summer holidays from college”.

“That was a while ago Mr. Kyoto but I do continue to design gardens in my spare time”.

“Yes, George has shown me some of your designs and that is why I am calling. I would like to offer you a job. Would you consider it?”

“Mr. Kyoto I would be absolutely delighted to accept. What position are you offering?”

“Well garden designer, of course, what else?”

Jocelyn felt dizzy with excitement, her heart was pounding – a dream come true when she had been at her lowest since moving to the city.

“When do you need me to start Mr. Kyoto? I only need to give two weeks notice”.

“That’s excellent news Jocelyn. So shall we say you will start on the sixteenth?”

“Thank you so much Mr. Kyoto, I’m really overwhelmed at your offer”.

“Well from the designs George showed me I think I am the lucky one, Jocelyn. Take care and I’ll see you soon”.

As she replaced the mouth piece, she couldn’t contain her excitement and let out a yell of pure joy – no more stuffy crowded tower block office with the constant gabble of voices saying the same thing over and over. She would be living her dream in two short weeks.

I would love to read your poem or short story inspired by this prompt – leave it in the comments.

 

Genres of Literature – Pulp Fiction

November 26, 2018
mandyevebarnett


pulp-fiction-genre-presentation-1-728

The term ‘pulp’ comes from the cheap wood pulp used to print the inexpensive fiction magazines first popularized between 1896 through to the 1950’s. During this time a typical pulp magazine consisted of 128 pages on paper 7 inches wide by 10 inches high with raged, untrimmed edges.

The term pulp fiction became synonymous with run-of-the-mill, low-quality literature. They were the successors of the penny dreadfuls and dime novels, known for their lurid, exploitative and sensational subject matter. Many contained stories of superheroes, such as The Shadow, Flash Gordon and Doc Savage.

Frank Munsey’s Argosy Magazine of 1896 is seen as the first pulp fiction publication with 192 pages and no illustrations, even on the cover. It combined cheap printing, cheap paper and cheap authors in a package that provided affordable entertainment to young working-class people. In six years, Argosy went from a few thousand copies per month to over half a million.

Next on the market was Street and Smith, a dime novel and boy’s weekly publisher with The Popular Magazine in 1903, boosting 194 pages. It’s success was increased when they serialized Ayesha by H. Rider Haggard in 1905. His Lost World genre influenced many key pulp writers including Robert E. Howard, Talbot Mundy and Edgar Rice Burroughs. In 1907, 30 pages were added to each issue, the price increased by 15 cents and a stable of established writers proved successful. The next innovation was introducing specialized genre pulps within each issue. Popular titles were monthly, many were bimonthly and some were quarterly.

The peak of popularity was in the 1920’s and 1930’s with the most successful pulps selling up to one million copies per issue. Although, by that time there were some 150 pulp titles, the most successful were Argosy, Adventure, Blue Book and Short Stories., collectively known as “The Big Four”.

Primarily and American publication there were also a number of British pulp magazines published between the Edwardian era and World War II. These included the Pall Mall Magazine, The Novel Magazine and The Story-Teller.

Pulp magazines began to decline in the 1940’s, due to paper shortages during the Second World War, when smaller and thicker magazine publishers began publishing  paperbacks, comics and digest-sized novels and the heavy competition from comic books, television, and the paperback novel.

When the primary distributor of pulp magazines, American New Company liquidation it was seen as the end of the pulp era. By that time many of the famous pulps were defunct, leaving a few specializing in science fiction or mystery in the digest size format.

Have you read or written ‘pulp’ fiction?
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