Nov-Ember Writing Spark: A Challenge to Fire Up Your Writing Goals

I don’t know about you, my friends, but I lacked motivation and inspiration to write during the last year and a half. I had the time (plenty of it), and yet my creativity seemed burnt out.

Then an unexpected trip to a local park a few weeks ago inspired me to write two new chapters of book two in my YA Fantasy trilogy. ✏️✏️✏️ I gazed out at the lake, the sunlight dancing across the Fall leaves and water’s surface, and felt energized.

I’ve since written two more chapters, and want to keep up the momentum. With November being the major month for writing challenges, I decided to create one to help spark some writing inspiration.


Create an individualized writing Spark Sheet (aka Goal List) for the month of November; the intention being to ignite creativity. Push past your comfort zone and write for the love of it.

Revisit a work in progress from years ago, or create a new one altogether. Write at your own pace – let inspiration guide you!

FOR EXAMPLE: Set a Goal to…

  • Write {insert number here} hours per week.
  • Put yourself in an environment that interests you.
  • Go to a local park, museum, or holiday festival.
  • Find a writers’ group/research info on a writing conference.
  • Use the weekly prompts (to be posted each Monday in November)

Your individual writing goals may change as you move through the month, and that’s OK! Try not to overthink the process.

If anyone wants to share what their Spark Sheet looks like, please do! It just may inspire a fellow writer. Don’t compare your goals with another’s. This is about your writing needs.

I’ll post a new writing prompt each Monday (starting Nov 1st), and a “check-in” on Fridays.

Kelly’s Sample


Mommy Marcia: A Love Letter on Mother’s Day 2021

Three generations of love and loss

My mother is resiliency personified. Strength, determination, and the embodiment of “keep moving forward”. She’s known grief I’ve never had to endure; losing her father, stepfather, and mother all by the time she was 32 and then burying her eldest child a few years ago. Through all of her 60+ years, my mom keeps moving forward, weights unseen though certainly carried.

She raised four daughters while her husband’s career required long hours and frequent travel, and did so outside of the community in which she was raised – different from her mother and grandmothers before her. My mother grew up with her cousins as playmates and best friends, large family gatherings, and a quieter lifestyle. After marriage, she moved from the mining/farming ancestral home to the Philly suburbs of her husband’s family. She raised us in a household of love, peace, structure, and comfort. Never did I ever doubt her love for us or her ability to be both a fierce protector and nurturer.

 My mother gives of her time, energy, and love with everything she has – rarely asking for anything in return. She just gets stuff done, and if you don’t do something quick enough, then she’s gonna end up doing it because you took too long. She will do whatever she can to lessen her daughters’ anxiety, stress, or worry sometimes to the point of exhausting herself when she thinks we don’t notice. She rarely asks for help likely because she’s spent so much of her life getting things done herself, without a backup system.

She’s kind, thoughtful, funny, and strict when needed. She braids her granddaughters’ hair, drives her 90+ year-old neighbor to her doctors’ appointments, and makes birthday cakes by scratch. She’d buy extra holiday gifts while teaching so that no child felt left out. She thinks of and puts others before herself, unless it’s a Friday night pre-COVID cause then she’s out shopping at the mall and watching a murder mystery episode.

As much as she is gentle and nurturing, Mama D can be fiercely stubborn. She once unplugged the TV and turned it around because she’d figured out that was why I asked to stay home from school. While she’ll help her grandkids with their fairy gardens, she’ll also hide their semi-smart phones so that they find something else to occupy their time. She will confront her adult children in the face of mental illness concerns and help them face a future path that’s not always easy but worth the journey forward.

I love my mother for all the reasons stated above, but mainly for her unflinching strength in the midst of grief. She’s mourned the passing of her beloved parents (her father when she was but 16) and placed her daughter’s ashes in the same cemetery plot where her mother rests. Others may have crumbled from life’s struggles, but not Mommy Marcia/Marsha. She kept moving forward with her arms open and her heart fierce.


Unshelve the Writer: a 7-Week Writing Challenge

Calling fellow writers! I don’t know about you, but writing during this past year has been quite challenging; my level of motivation near non-existent. I needed a boost of inspiration and thought back to when I created writing/artistic spirit challenges to keep myself motivated (111-Day Artistic Spirit Pledge). “I should do that again,” I decided! When I chatted with my library colleagues, some of whom also have a passion to write, they loved the idea of a writing challenge. And so, UNSHELVE THE WRITER: A 7-Week Writing Challenge took form! ✍️✍️📚

Each Monday, starting April 12th 2021, we will post the coming week’s theme (i.e. poetry, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Creative Non-Fiction, Romance/Comedy) in the form of a downloadable document for your convenience.

Visit my HOME page to see the full details and to access the prompts each week.

Join fellow writers as we challenge one another to keep developing our skills and inspire others to nurture the writer within. Share the link and keep the inspiration flowing with #UnshelveTheWriter on social media.


Aunt Betty Deeny: Our Very Own Valentine

My paternal Great-Aunt Betty would have turned 104 years old today, and she would have been none too pleased to have reached such a milestone!

Elizabeth “Betty” Deeny was a woman strong in mind, spirit, and heart – fitting given her birth occurred on Valentine’s Day. Aunt Betty never married or had children, but she adored her siblings’ offspring – and they reciprocated her affection. My memories of her are plentiful in number and meaningful in their lasting effect on my life. We’d travel from the Philly suburbs to Cape May Courthouse, NJ at least once a year to visit with my dad’s beloved aunt. This was a house where Aunt Betty lived with and cared for her mother until my great-grandmother’s passing in 1987. She remained in that quaint, but treasured home, for more than a decade until she relocated to be closer to her nieces and nephews in Pennsylvania.

I don’t have many role models in my life, because I firmly believe that we should strive to be a reflection of our best self and not of another. However, there are people I’ve known along my life’s journey whose choices, personality, and experience inspire me; Aunt Betty was one of those individuals. She was well-read, intelligent, deeply spiritual, and unafraid to voice her political opinion.  Aunt Betty proudly talked about being one of the few women surrounded by men in the workforce when she worked for the Department of Agriculture in the 1950s. Later in her career, she worked for the Small Business Administration.  

Aunt Betty in her element

I didn’t know Aunt Betty well, and that was my doing. For though I loved and respected my elders, I also felt uncomfortable and inferior. They were like the antique furniture in the home, revered from afar but too precious for me to venture close enough to. I sat back and let my parents ask the questions and discuss current events whenever we visited Aunt Betty. I look back now and recognize the moment I opened my eyes to all the magnificence of my grandfather’s sister. She sat next to my father at own dining room table, this keeper of the family stories, and paged through the ancestral photos my dad had scanned for her – reliving the past and gracing us with the gift of our history.

As Aunt Betty’s mind tired, after decades of extensive and thorough use, she no longer recognized the majority of her family – save for her darling niece Mary whose unwavering love and diligent care remained constant throughout Betty’s failing health. When we were notified that Betty’s time on earth was soon to end, we rushed to her side. I shan’t forget that day for though her body displayed a woman exhausted and frail, I knew that her spirit was just as fiery as it always was. I sat next to her (her eyes never opening) and read from a collection of Irish poems. I closed my eyes, reached my hand to my mother who sat by my side and prayed. In that moment I smiled, because I felt that we were not alone; Aunt Betty’s brothers and sisters who’d passed on before her now stood at the foot of her bed, silhouettes of mist there to accompany Betty to the next adventure.

In the decade since her passing, I’ve frequently paged through Betty’s photo albums – the spark that lit my genealogical flame. I’ve made connections with the distant Deeny relations still in Ireland, thanks to the correspondence she had with them decades prior. Aunt Betty may have been a Valentine’s Day gift, but the love she bestowed upon us is the beating heart of our family. If I never marry or have children, I can only hope that my role as Aunt Kelly is as treasured and beloved as it was for Aunt Betty. One day, I will write her story. I just wish I’d ask the questions long ago. Wherever she is and whatever she’s doing, maybe she’ll spare some time to assist this writer.

We love you, our beautiful Valentine!



Leaving footprints only

The soul’s eye can see

We live in and out

Of your concept of time

Living many lives

In the course of one

We glisten like light dancing

Across the river’s surface

Beauty in color, light and darkness

Sound, music, rhythm

Art painting the spirit

Soaring, floating, existing in between your consciousness

We traverse many planes and cultures

Languages blending into a universal one

Kissed by love eternal

We are magnificent in all our flaws,

Scars revealed to the wind

And healing the soul in time’s pace

We are not perfect, but perfection indeed.


Authorship – A Love Story

Not everyone will love my debut novel – such a statement is not a self-defeating one; it’s one based in realism. THE SPIRIT PROJECTOR is a love story in its subplot, yes, but more so a romance of the author and the words I chose.

I did not set out to win a race or compete against others. I wrote the story inside me calling to the artist within. I crafted visuals I could stand to envision, settings I could imagine living in, and characters whose presence would be welcome. The journey towards publication was a personal one – full of stumbles, doubts, and rewrites. Through all of the “will anyone love it as I do?” wonderings, I came up with all the possible critiques future reviewers might draft. The people pleaser part of my personality caused me to worry so intensely of being judged as a failure that I held on tight to a project I loved.

Rejection in love keeps me from opening my heart – my writing is a reflection of who I am and what I love. TSP is me opening my heart to the world, hopeful that others will embrace it, and thus me, as it is; flaws intact. Letting go and trusting others with the very essence of me remains one of the scariest moments of my life. I could’ve continued to assume all of the negative responses possible or trust that someone, somewhere, would understand what I was trying to achieve – and thus, understand the core of who I am.

Self-love and pride carried me through the initial excitement of debut publication. I felt beautiful, worthy, and loved. And then, slowly but surely, the rose-colored glasses faded to clear and reality set in; not everyone will love THE SPIRIT PROJECTOR. They will find faults, lose interest, and move on to another. My debut creation contains errors, reveals a tangential mind, and a fantastical ideal of love. I’m okay with that. In accepting TSP with all its flaws and beauty, I discovered my own. Not everyone will understand nor love me – especially if I keep my heart closed; to expect any different is irrational. However, the ones who do – they are the keepers; the friends, family, and romantic mates meant to walk alongside as we navigate this life.

I am proud of what I created, typos and simplicity included. I embrace once again the artistic spirit within and the beautiful woman inside and out.  I look forward to meeting the man who loves both the book and the author.


Aunt Reba and Me: Kindred Spirits 53 Years Apart

Due to a variety of circumstances, I knew very little about my paternal grandmother’s family growing up. All I knew was that it was rooted deep in our family lore that we were of Native American lineage. It’s only within the last 15 years, since I started genealogy research, that I discovered that the family lore was just a tale (thanks a lot, AncestryDNA 😉) and that so many factual stories were there for the telling. When I discovered that my paternal great-grandmother had a half-sister born on the same month and day as me, well, I’ve been fascinated with Aunt Reba ever since.

Reba – pre teen

In May of 1924, my aunt Rebecca “Reba” DeYoung entered the world and made a positive impact on those around her. You only need read the comments from her sister’s son (who lived with Aunt Reba and his grandparents) to confirm.

“At the age of 25, Reba bought us our first car and took driving lessons and learned how to drive…Reba had also bought a house and we would now have a home of our own for the first time and I would have my own bedroom.”

From writings of George E. Chapman, 2008

My Aunt Reba never married, resided with her parents, and was close with her family – a path I see myself walking five decades later.

I had no image to match with her name, because I’d never met (to my knowledge) my grandmother’s mother or aunts and uncles. Plus, there are limited family photos of that side of my family tree. Aunt Reba was a mystery to me, until this past year when a distant cousin reached out to me via a genealogical site. He found a whole collection of family photos of my direct branch of the tree and generously sent them to me. I finally, finally, met my great-grandmother, her siblings, and the woman who stills intrigues me – Aunt Reba.

Aunt Reba

According to her nephew, George Chapman, Reba was an important part of his life – as he recorded a decade ago in writings for his children and grandchildren; a copy of which his daughter-in-law shared with me a few years back. George’s grandma Nina and Aunt Reba were close according to his writings – and the family photos I recently received include many pictures of them together. George recollected with his Aunt Reba before her death about their time growing up as they were but nine years apart in age.

I see her smiling face in the treasured photos and feel a kindred spirit looking back. Perhaps next year, once we’ve slowly found our new normal, I’ll travel to Michigan and visit the places important to Aunt Reba. To pay my respects and honor a woman much like myself. Learning about the women who came before me reaffirms my confidence in the woman I have become. I am honored to share their roots and will continue to tell their stories. Happy birth day, Aunt Reba, and may your spirit be full of love wherever it now calls home.

[Sidenote: I named one of the characters in my debut novel, THE SPIRIT PROJECTOR, Rebekah before I knew about Aunt Reba. The fact that the real person was also a beloved family member, maternal figure to the next generation, and full of joy fits in perfectly with the character who became my favorite (shh, authors do have favorite characters).]


United We Stand Back Up

We are all navigating through the current global health crisis the best way we know how – for ourselves, our loved ones, and the greater community. Our concerns vary according to the immediate needs before us. Some are scared and don’t know when they’ll next be paid (how will they put food on the table or provide for their family), others feel their rights are being infringed upon and want to take their life in their hands – certain their choices won’t impact others.

We’re dealing with the issues facing us in individual ways and yet what may benefit us in the short term may cause serious ramifications in the not-too-distant future. We are the United States of America, trying to form a more perfect union.

Photo credit: Kelly Deeny / Flag from Flags of Valor

In the most challenging of times, when we’re at our most vulnerable, our country becomes stronger when we unite as one; when we acknowledge our differences and unite under a common goal. We won’t all agree about how much government should be involved in our choices or who should receive tax breaks, but we can come together to save the lives of our countrymen and women.

Glimpses of our best selves are all around us: Teachers sitting on a student’s driveway to read to them, groups of community members making/donating masks and other PPE for medical professionals, business oweners coming up with innovative ways to safely provide their services, and everyday Americans following the advice of leaders in the medical/scientific/infectious disease fields.

From South Dakota to Pennsylvania, California’s coast to the Great Lakes, we will overcome what ails us if we agree to disagree and find common ground. If we cannot, I worry the foundation built over 240 years ago will crumble beheath us.

Stay strong. Stay alert. Stay home. Stay the United States of America!


Debut Novel Coming Jan 2020!

I did it, friends! My debut novel is in the self-publishing process – with a tentative release date of January 2020.

TSP blog announcement image

Those of you who’ve followed along on this journey likely recall my many claims of “finishing” my book; draft after draft after draft. I held it tight, afraid no one could love it as much as I did. What if no one likes it? What if no one reads it? Will critics tear it to pieces? Do any of those questions warrant answers?

To quote one of my characters, “I chose to control that which I could.” I love the story, the tone, the mystical feel of what I created. The characters came to life and will live with me until my spirit and body part – probably even longer.

This novel is a tribute to that which inspires me: genealogy, fairy tales, magic, and love. It’s a story focused on internal conflict, on obligations and expectations, and finding strength through love of self.

I am currently awaiting the proofs for the text, e-book, and book cover. If all goes smoothly, the novel will be published within a month’s time.

I’ll update soon once I have a concrete timeline for publication and pre-sale!!!

Queen Jennifer and Me: A Personal Reaction to SIX THE MUSICAL

Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anna of Cleves, Katherine Howard, and Catherine Parr – all Queens whose lives have been retold and reshaped to suit history’s story. Were my sister Jen (a history buff and lifelong feminist) alive today, she’d be none too pleased with how little I knew of these Queens before SIX THE MUSICAL.

Eight times a week, at the Brooks Atkinson Theater, we are challenged to re-examine that history and give them a voice in a world that silenced them. SIX THE MUSICAL features powerhouse vocalists and musicians (all women) whose performances elicit joy, laughter, awe, and introspection.

For the first time in nearly 2 years I sat in Broadway theater, awaiting the house lights to dim and six queens to take their rightful place on stage. My emotions swirled – anticipation, joy, comfort, belonging. And then I felt at home. At first, I thought “home” meant Broadway; the way my body tingles and my soul expands during musical theater performances. It wasn’t until the train ride home, as I drafted a professional-style review in my head, that I realized I felt at home because it was though my older sister’s spirit (5 years gone) filled the empty seat next to me.

Jennifer and I were as different as could be, but we were the eldest sisters in our family and thus shared an unlikely bond. While we may not have understood one another, we loved each other. Where Jen was fierce in her passion for animal welfare and women’s rights, I attended Mass regularly and breathed everything animated fairytales.

Jen’s love of history came from a place I never understood. It was but names, dates, and places to me – distant and in the past. How could learning history help me in the present? She loved to push my buttons, and consistently challenged me to re-examine the stories of women in history. To see them as patriarchal perspectives dictated in scriptures and fiction, but also understand they were women who were complex and fierce – brave and powerful.

I didn’t always react well to her attempts at in-depth feminist lessons – most times I viewed her as angry and unable to move forward. So, I built up a wall and crafted my own story of her – never truly brave enough to ask the questions I wasn’t certain I wanted answered.

Jennifer wasn’t the easiest for me to understand or reach and while I was immersed in my own mental health struggles, I couldn’t see past to recognize hers. She lived fierce, but also with struggles not always overcome. My family and I have mourned her passing five years ago in different ways, but there are times I sense her presence in unusual circumstances – like a Broadway theater.

I live with immense guilt and regret for not seeing her truth or pushing past my own trauma to understand hers. There’s so much of Jen’s story that I will never know, and I’ve felt selfish in wanting to know more because it’s “not my story to tell”. However, as a writer and amateur genealogist I yearn to write her story (and thus mine) in the hope that it helps someone else going through a similar situation.

Had she been alive today, I’d have offered her my extra ticket to see SIX. Instead, before the show I lit a candle at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in her memory and told her I loved her. While she could not be at the theater in person, I believe she occupied the empty seat next to me in spirit – cheering for not only the artists on stage but her little sister too.

Now, I yearn to know the stories of women overlooked and misrepresented in history. I’m also currently working on a genealogical writing project to tell the stories of the women who came before me and am writing book two in my YA Fantasy book trilogy.

Jennifer’s with me on this journey forward, acknowledging our unbreakable bond and smiling at the fact I now embrace the feminist label!

Learn more about the brilliance that is SIX THE MUSICAL and go see it live!!!!

Week 7 Showcase: Unshelve the Writer

We did it, my friends! We reached the completion of this inaugural 7-week writing challenge!!!!!!

Though the challenge has come to its end, keep up the momentum. Perhaps you discovered a new genre you’d like to pursue further. Maybe you started a new story that’s taking you to unexpected places. If you need to go back to any of the weekly prompts, they will remain posted for you to download.

Thanks to all who participated, whether you chose to share your work or keep it close. I didn’t succeed with my writing goals each week, but I am reinvigorated in my pursuit of current works in progress – like finishing book two in my YA Fantasy trilogy. 😉

I close by sharing the work submitted for Week 7’s prompt…

NOW – a poem by Laurie Hong

Rockets whiz by fast

Children run under tables

As a rose opens

MEMORIAL DAY 2021 – a poem by A.L. Dowdell

It’s just a minor holiday, you say-

a time for family picnics in the park

or an extended weekend at the beach-

weather permitting-of course.

You say nothing of the men and women

from this country who fought for your freedom-

countless lives lost in service to their country.

You don’t mention the blood they shed or

the sacrifices they made

on the beaches of Normandy or in

the desert of Iraq.

It’s just another day to you-

A day off from work and one day

closer to your summer vacation.

But to the mothers who lost their sons and daughters in conflict,

to the soldiers who are currently deployed

and to their families, today is more than a mark on a calendar.

For all who served and never returned


by Kelly Deeny

On this Memorial Day 2021, my thoughts turn to my Uncle Frank. What if Frank never joined the Army, never got sent to Vietnam, never died in a bombing less than two weeks later. What if he’d lived to see his daughter grow up? Would his parents be able to rectify their fragile marriage instead of the irreparable damage done after his death? Would my father’s life journey veered onto an alternate course – would he have met my mother, still pondered life’s big questions, or sought spiritual answers in the midst of chaos?

I’m fascinated by time-travel stories – by going back and witnessing history in its present. However, I never like it when those stories lead to history being changed when the observers become history’s editors. Are there moments in history that I wonder if I’d change if I could? Yes, yes, I absolutely would! I’d take a bullet for Honest Abe or MLK Jr. I’d wave a magic wand to unchain all the slaves from bondage or be a station agent on the underground railroad. No matter how much I wish I could change the past, I can’t go back in time – only forward, carrying with me the knowledge and truth of the history in which my ancestors lived. I can learn, bear witness, and seek reparations for those harmed by the actions (or inactions) of those who came before.

What’s passed is past. We can look back and move forward acknowledging the pain and struggle endured while resolving to create a future story we’d be proud to share. We mourn the loss of those gone in horrific, sudden, and violent ways – wishing we could undue what was done and take away their pain. My uncle’s life ended at the young age of eighteen, killed in a bombing while serving his country. I can’t erase the grief suffered by his family, but I can learn to appreciate the time I have with those I love. I can learn his story and those of others with whom he served to carry on the memories outside of war.

I often wonder now that I’ve reached “middle age” how my life could’ve been quite different had but one moment in my history changed. Any one moment in my ancestors’ past could have altered my own journey. My spirit may have chosen a different time and body in which to experience this life, an alternate family or experience from which to grow. It’s so easy to get caught up in the “ifs” that you fail to recognize the “what is”.

Week 4 Showcase: Unshelve the Writer

Pat yourselves on the back! Do a celebratory dance! You’ve surpassed the halfway mark in the 7-week writing challenge!!!!! (Have I mentioned yet how much I love exclamation points?)

Week four in the challenge was all about the world of Science Fiction and Fantasy – my favorite genres. Oddly enough, I didn’t get very far in my new story idea though I definitely intend to keep working on it. I should have been focused on the second book in my YA Fantasy trilogy, but decided to write a Mother’s Day post instead.

This week’s showcase solely features the creative work of our new friend, Lauren Hong. I love what she’s written so far and am excited to read more!

**Join me in congratulating Lauren on a challenge well met by commenting below.**

COLOR ME NOT – (work in progress)

I am sick of the color WHITE! I hate wearing a white uniform every single day. The walls of my module are white. My furnishings are white. In fact, my facility is painted all white. I am not allowed to see any other colors.  Even my parents wear white. How did this happen? Let me start at the beginning to explain this horrible predicament.

My name is Blank.  That isn’t actually even my real name. My parents gave me this peculiar name temporarily as they wanted me to choose my own name when I turn 15. I am now 14 years old. I do like the idea of picking my own name. It is so personal to try to come up with the perfect name to match my unique personality. Right now, my friends call me “Bla”.

As a curious teenager, I am lanky for my age and I wear thick white framed glasses. Unfortunately, I was not a good candidate for replacement blink eye surgery. I do however have a right bionic arm because I fell off my fit-tech jungle gym when I was a toddler. I am afraid of zigzag worms but I can beat anyone in online PV Pixel Penguin. Because I am not allowed outside of my unit, I am home schooled by robot tutors.

I was born in the year 2192 on the planet Zertan. My parents chose Zertan because it reminded them of their ancestors’ quaint little community back on Earth. On Zertan, citizens can transport themselves around without wearing spacesuits as our district is covered by a huge polymer plastic bubble. My parents enjoy shuttling to other intergalactic districts but they never let me go with them. I am forced to remain in and around my complex until I turn 17.

The idea for my so-called confinement started before I was born. My parents wanted to give back to the community and support the Zertan Government. My parents thought they could assist the Zertan Administrators in testing theories for our planet. Since Zertan is a newly inhabited planet, the Administrators have many experiments that children can participate in. Don’t get me wrong. It is not like kids are forced to replace their body parts or drink green goo. Some of the studies go under the heading of “Smart Tech Eyebrows” and “Laser Snack Packaging.”

Since my parents both enjoyed studying ancient art history, they wanted to put me in an experiment called “Cool Colors.” They planned exactly when I would be born so I could be chosen for the “Cool Colors” study. I was one of 12 infants picked from over three hundred applicants.

Week 2 Showcase: Unshelve the Writer

And that’s a wrap on our second of seven weeks in the Unshelve the Writer challenge!

Did your determination to keep writing wane this week like mine? Was writing dialogue a little less intimidating than you previously thought? Have you discovered a long-buried passion for fan fiction?

Three of our writing challengers (myself included) sent in pieces for the Week 2 Showcase, and since dialogue can be quite long, you’ll find excerpts of each below. Please join in the conversation by adding a comment below about your love/hate relationship with dialogue or to celebrate the work shared!

SETTING: Immigration voyage from Liverpool to Philadelphia

TIME: Late 1884

CHARACTERS: Elizabeth “Lizzie” (22) and her sister Bridget “Biddy” (19)

Lizzie grabbed her younger sister’s hand and squeezed. “We’ll be okay as long as we’re together. I promised Ma that I wouldn’t let you out of my sight, and her wrath would reach all the way across the ocean if I broke my word.”

Biddy grinned and exhaled some of the anxiety away on the wind. “I don’t know that I can be as strong as you. I’m so scared that I can’t think of anything but what we left behind.” She felt Lizzie’s grip ease and squeezed back tight. “You gave up a chance at love for our family. I could never be as selfless as you. I promise to always stay at your side. Where you go, I go.” Biddy rested her head on Lizzie’s weighted shoulder and linked their arms.

“Come now, Brig, Mother Nature looks angry. Best to return inside.”

“Just another moment, please. I do so love the smell of the ocean before a storm.”

Lizzie laid her cheek on Biddy’s auburn locks and sighed. “Just another moment then.” Another moment was all Lizzie had wanted with Tommy, but saying goodbye was an impossible task; one she couldn’t bring herself to do.

Excerpt from an untitled work in progress by Kelly Deeny

I don’t think you’re brave,
Little toaster.
You sit on a shelf,
collecting dust-
waiting to burn
my toast into
the ashes of
yesterday’s dreams.

I don’t like mornings.
I’d rather chase my dreams
in blissful slumber
than watch a sunrise-
even a glorious one-
highlight the sky.

I hope you made friends
with the blender or
the mixer.
They actually do something
and they don’t burn
my toast in petty revenge.


“It seems like we have reached the point where I can ask you if you want to go out for dinner.”

“Before I give an answer, let’s discuss hypothetically where we would go. What type of food do you like?”

“There is this hamburger joint downtown that recently opened up.  I’ve always wanted to try it.”

“Can we pass on the burgers, Steve.  You know hamburgers are a “high risk” food because of the high grams of fat.” 

“That’s fine.  Do you like Texas barbecue?  I know of a popular restaurant nearby.”

“Sorry I don’t like foods where I have to use my hands to pick up the food. How about sushi?”

“Sorry Pauline.  I can’t eat raw fish.  How about breakfast?  We could try eating at the local Denny’s.”

“Sorry I’m not a breakfast person.”

 “Ok. No breakfast or dinner.  How about just drinks?   We could find a happy hour spot.  What kind of drinks are you into?”

 “Not sure if I should say it.  Don’t get any ideas but it’s called ‘Sex on the Beach’.  It’s a popular Florida cocktail with vodka.” 

“I didn’t see that one coming.  Just give me a Bud Light any day.”

“Now that we decided on drinks, where are we going?”

“How about that new bar on Fillmore near Grove?”

“Way too noisy Steve.  How about the restaurant on 2nd Ave and Jones?”

“Too dark.   How about the dive on 3rd and Market?

“Too many weirdos near there.  How about we meet at Second and Main St and go from there?  5pm on Tuesday, ok?”

“I can’t do Tuesdays.   I have my knitting and snack club.”

“Friday ok?”

 “Good.  I’ll be in front of the Nincompoop Café on Second near Main wearing a red jacket.”

Excerpt from MY BLIND DATE PHONE CALL by Laurie Hong

Unshelve the Writer: Week 2 Check-In

Week Two – Character & Dialogue

Fun fact – I love reality TV baking challenges! I can’t bake to save my life, but am so impressed (and slightly jealous) of those who can. Bakers create stunning artwork with their culinary skills, even when thrown a “twist” in the midst of the challenge.

Since this is Entertainment week, I thought it would be fun to throw in a twist in our writing challenge…

Sprinkle “Mother Nature” into your current work in progress through dialogue or as a background character watching unseen.

Week 1 Showcase: Unshelve the Writer

We did it my friends! We completed the initial week of our seven week challenge.

I struggled to be honest. Wrote bits and pieces, volleying between journaling and poetry until I settled back into the comforting embrace of fantasy.

Whether you wrote 500, 1000, or 100 words, be proud of what you accomplished! (If you would like feedback on what you wrote or wish to provide feedback to others, please email UnshelveTheWriter@gmail.com).

Two writers gave permission to post their week one creations. Please join me in congratulating A.L. and Laurie on a fantastic start to the challenge!


by A.L. Dowdell

I believed

you were

the water

to my wheel,

the force

and energy

that fueled

my life-

the source

of all my


So I built

a nest

with you

and layered

it with

shiny stones

and the edges

of endless


I believed

But water

always rises

with a force

and a rage

of its own.

It cannot

be contained

by human hands,

a million sandbags

or empty, shallow


It can break

cities and

fragile hearts

into rubble

like plastic,

toy bricks

hurled into

a blender.

I’m tired of

treading water

and holding

my breath

while I


drown in this

stagnant water

you call a


I’m tired of

loving you

and I’m finally

breaking free

from the

constant pull

and drag

of your


of indifference.

So Dearest,


Here’s my

Happy ending….

I’m taking

half of


you own!


by Laurie Hong

Looking at Paris in this light, I know I am doing the right thing. As I am flying into the Charles de Gaulle Airport, I am excited to start a new chapter of my life. Gazing out the window, I see the apricot red sun rising over the horizon. I planned my trip to arrive on Bastille Day so I could see the fireworks tonight.

I sway from side to side in the taxi as the driver zig zags around the boulevards. I feel like a passenger in a Mario Kart on steroids. When the taxi pulls up to my building, the owners immediately come out to greet me. They speak to me in French with only a few words of English sprinkled in. But I could tell from their smiles and gestures that they are thrilled that I showed up. They help drag my suitcases up to the 4th floor. With no elevator in sight, I can’t imagine that I will have to walk up and down these flights of stairs every day for the next two months. My short-term rental looks like a closet compared to the brochure picture. But I cheer up when I draw back the curtains to reveal the Eiffel Tower in the distance.

As this is my first day in the City of Light, I want to capture that perfect photo with the iconic landmark. I don’t bother unpacking my luggage. Putting on my running shoes, I head back down the stairs. Waving to the owners, I take off down the narrow cobblestone streets. My heart is beating fast as I glimpse the tower in the distance. The aroma from cafés and bakeries linger at every corner.

When I jog to the front of the tower, I turn my head upward. Bang! I crumble to the ground. What did I hit? I rub my forehead and eyes. There is a small cut on my right knee. A man has fallen next to me. He gets up and helps me sit up. Although I feel wobbly, I am entranced by his gentle hazel eyes with the perfect five-o’clock shadow. His hands are warm as he holds my shoulders.

“Ça va?  Vous allez bien?” he says.  His Parisian accent sounds heavenly yet serious at the same time.  He didn’t appear fazed at all from bumping into me.  

“I’m … ok,” I whisper as I try to stand up. But I tumble back down on the grass.

I rub my eyes again. Suddenly I am jolted awake. The nurse shifts my wheelchair on the deck of my Memory Care facility. I must have dozed off again. She readjusts the blanket over my legs. Looking out between the tall buildings, I watch the sun slowly setting over the mountains.

**Laurie Hong is retired after working many years in the accounting field. When Laurie is not busy being a docent for her local museum, she likes to garden, read long novels, and take walks with friends.**