MWG Third Annual Tracy Hurley Memorial Writing Contest Middle School Winners

At the May Meeting of the Mobile Writer’s Guild, we were please to announce the winners of the Third Annual Tracy Hurley Memorial Writing Contest for middle and high school. Writing can be a lonely endeavor and also it can take courage not only to put your thoughts and imagination into words, but also to share it with others. We salute all those who participated for their courage, hard work, and dedication, and are pleased to share with you today the winning stories for middle school.

FIRST PLACE

EL BOOM BOOM
By J.T. Lastorka
Grand Bay Middle School

I came all the way from a piñata factory in Mexico City, Mexico to a suburban backyard in Chula Vista, California. My name is Alejandro Jose Quesadilla Estefan Antonio Taco Pepe Lopez the fifth, but you can call me…..El Boom Boom! I am in the piñata army. I specialize in recon, stealth, spying, and making an amazing jalapeno and cheese quesadilla. My brother, Felipe Chimichanga Pedro Miguel Juan Lopez, and my other brother Steve went MIA (missing in action) back in 2012 are now thought to be POW (prisoners of war). No one wanted to step up and go on a rescue mission except for…..El Boom Boom!

August 15, 2024

As the summer breeze blew past my ears, I was parachuting down from the plane to the ground of enemy territory and became frightened. What if they were dead? The thought of candy everywhere and Felipe on the ground was horrible. The Piñata Army was at war with the scariest things ever on the face of the earth….5 year olds. They are terrifying with their Nerf guns and their action figures but don’t even get me started on the things that are just unbearable to look at….. Barbie dolls!

August 16, 2024

I am infiltrating their evil lair. My sources have told me that my brothers were being held in what humans call the attic. Once I got up there, I couldn’t see anything and before I know it a band of dust bunnies put a bag on my head and took me somewhere. When I woke up, I saw Steve sitting in a throne and Felipe chained up. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

August 17, 2024

I was put to trial. Steve was strutting around me. He was making me nervous. “Well brother, I’d give you some assistance, but it looks like you’re having some fun just hanging around.” He stated. “Why would you do this?” asked Felipe. “Because ya’ll have the cool names and I’m just boring old Steve. That’s not even scary! Look out here comes Steve! See that doesn’t even strike a little bit of fear in anyone.” He exclaimed. After going on and on about names I was sentenced to execution.

August 18, 2024

I had two choices death by stick or death by bat. I chose the stick. My death was supposed to be at 3:00 pm sharp. As the pitter- patter of little feet hit the patio, I realized my time has come. The little boy struck me right in the leg. Then his sister hit me square in the jaw. Before she did that, I mouthed two words to Felipe “Boom Boom”. Yes it was suicide, however my brother called for an airstrike before the words came out. Then she struck me and when she did I exploded and my guts went everywhere. Good thing they were Jolly Ranchers and candy. Momma always said I was a sweet piñata. My brother Felipe and his squad ended up winning. He said “You will not die in vain my brother!”

El Boom Boom 2.0: The Return?

August 15, 2027

It has been 3 years since my uncle Alejandro Jose Quesadilla Estefan Antonio Taco Pepe Lopez fifth died. My name is Fruiti Tutti Lopez. My dad is Felipe Chimichanga Pedro Miguel Juan Lopez. My mother was taken hostage by Uncle Steve’s son Javier Queso Chili Salsa Lopez. I decided to rescue my candlewick mother. Yes, yes, my mother is a candle and my dad’s a piñata don’t even ask me how that happened. All I know is that I’m a birthday candle.

August 16, 2027

My dad and I went to Party City. That’s where my mother is being held hostage. A bunch of other toys were there too. So we decided to recruit an army. After going through 270 toys we ended up with six. Hulk is the strongest. Brains is the smartest (his real name is Layton but we like brains better). Sonic is our fastest. Tiny mite is the shortest. Big Belch….. Well it’s pretty obvious what he does. Finally Carlton Banks is our distraction.

August 17, 2027

We had to infiltrate the break room. Javier was lowering my mother into a cup of espresso. I gave my commands. “Belch burp the cup away, Sonic run around in the coffee to create a vortex. Hulk grab 100 lbs weight while brains grabs the rope. Carlton…. It’s show time!” Carlton started dancing to distract Javier. Belch blew the cup away, while Flash was creating a vortex. We defeated Javier and hung him to a pole and destroyed him like he did my uncle. Dad told Uncle Alejandro he wouldn’t die in vain. It looks like he was right.

SECOND PLACE

KNEE DEEP
Danielle Roberts
Colmer Middle School (lives in Grand Bay, AL)

I heard a vicious howling sound. Was it the wind? Or was it bloodthirsty wolves waiting for me to freeze to death? The Evergreen monsters’ limbs blocked my view of the sunlight. Is my stepsister even alive? Did she die? The only sound I heard was my coal-colored boots crunching in the snow, as the trees grow thicker. I should have brought more supplies to help me find my stepsister. I should have been watching her, and none of this would’ve happened otherwise. I heard a loud giggling sound. Was it my stepsister Lahela or was it something else?

The heavy snow fogged my vision, and the only other color I saw was green. I thought I might go insane if everything was white. I glanced over to my right. There was a crimson color, so I rushed over. It looked like blood. Once I got there, it was gone. It seemed that now I saw evil in the snow where there was once peace. Blood now stained my serene memories of snow, but whose blood? The silence taunted my mind and the darkness threatened to delude my sapphire eyes. I heard the giggling again, and it echoed throughout my mind. I held my head and started to shake it.

Get out of my head, leave me alone! I thought.

I started to stride forward, but I sank in the snow all the way to my icy knees. So I was literally knee deep. I started to feel drowsy and I remembered something from class. I could possibly have hypothermia. I could have been hallucinating earlier when I saw the blood. I should start making a fire. If I kept going, what was the point if I was dead with the crows picking at my eyes? I glanced around. The sun was still out. Maybe I could do something I saw in a movie. I dug into my pocket until I could feel some lint and I whipped it out. I put the lint on the ground and took off my glasses. I pointed my glasses at an angle from the sun at the lint and wait.

After a few minutes, I saw a spark and eventually the fire sparked to life. I watched as the fire began to reach for the stars, and the ashes floated up into the dark night. The stars accompanied me at the huge bonfire. I gathered sticks so it could stay like this. I felt my cheeks warm and my knees were toasty. I could just lie down by the fire and drift into sleep. But I can’t. I still need to find my stepsister. Hopefully she’d see the fire and come running. I heard the giggling sound again. It was much closer and much more boisterous.

“Want to play?” what sounded like a little girl said.

“That is a weird question. Shouldn’t you be with your parents?”

She giggled. The trees swayed and the wind whistled. She was sprinting along the tree line around my camp.

“Who are you?”

She stepped out of nowhere into the light of my fire. Her long red hair was a fire itself on top of her little head. Her green eyes pierced through my skin and it was like she can see into my soul. She couldn’t be more than six, maybe seven.

“What is your name?” I asked.

“What is your name?” She asked.

“My name is Ulric Baines, but you can call me Rick.”

“My name is Erin.”

She walked toward me and messed up my shaggy brown hair with her tiny hand, but when I looked up she was gone.

“Want to play Hide and Seek?” she asked from somewhere in the woods.

I could hear some twigs breaking behind me then I hear footsteps. “I really shouldn’t. You see, I ‘m looking for my stepsister…”

“Lahela?”

“Yeah but how did you know?” Something about her frightens me.

“Well, she is playing Hide and Seek. You need to play if you ever want to find her.”

A sliver of hope ricochets through me. “Really?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she said. Erin was in front of me now and I could see a glint in her eye. Alarms went off in my head but this was my chance to find Lahela.

I ignored the alarms and follow Erin. She held out her hand so I took it. She pulled me forward with an unusual amount of strength for a six year old.

“Ok you’re it, so lean on this tree and count to ten.”

“Is this really necessary?”

“Yes it is.”

I leaned against the tree and counted to ten. When I got up I heard a cry.

“Brother, help me!” It was Lehela’s voice and I scrambled to where I heard the voice.

“Lahela!” I turn and see Lahela covered in blood and she giggled, then vanished. I wiped my eyes and checked to see where she was; there was nothing there. Maybe I really am going nuts. I turned and saw the little girl.

“Am I really seeing you?”

“Yes you are.”

She turned to look up at me I saw cracked skin like she was a broken porcelain doll with glowing red eyes. I panicked, as she smiled what was once a friendly smile. Now a sinister smile full of teeth sharpened to look like someone jammed a row of spikes into her mouth flashed in the firelight.

She growled an inhuman growl and I started running. I blindlessly ran through the snow. I’d been running for a while and my muscles started to ache.  The cold wind took my breath. I saw a house, but it’s blurry, almost blending into the snow. I ran up what seemed to be steps. I pounded on the door. What if she is behind me? Someone opened the door and the warm air hits me full blast. My glasses steamed up from the warm air, so I removed them.

My five-year-old stepsister, Lahela, stared at me from the doorway. “Brother, what are you doing in the cold?”

THIRD PLACE

THE THORNE OF DREVENCORE
By David Stroud
Christ the King School

The wind howled in the dark, cold night of Drevencore. No one in this winter wasteland could have foreseen the tragedy that was about to occur. This is a story of two brothers who go on an unexpected journey to save their kingdom.

“Leonardo, wait up!” shouted Artimus, the fourteen year old prince of Drevencore.

“No! I already told you I am going to refuse the throne, and give it to you,” replied Leonardo, the seventeen year old king of Drevencore. “I cannot bear to look at it after Mom and Dad were killed on their diplomatic trip to Traliquin.”

“But you have to declare war on them. They killed the king and queen, our parents!” replied Artimus.

“You declare war!” screamed Leonardo. “You are the new king of Drevencore!”

With those words, Leonardo of Drevencore twirled his cape and strolled down the corridor past his brother, Artimus, the new king of Drevencore.

The next day, during the ceremony, right before the coronation, Leonardo made an announcement.

“May I have your attention please?  I hereby entirely renounce my royal claims.”

He turned to the knights. “Furthermore, I am here by announcing that Artimus, my brother, the new heir to the throne, will be king,” and with those words Leonardo sealed his fate.

“Excuse me sir,” said the captain of the guard. “We were thinking that, well, Artimus is not old enough to be king, so we are taking over.” The Captain drew his sword and following the Captain’s lead, the rest of the Knights of Drevencore drew their weapons.

“Artimus draw your sword and defend yourself,” shouted Leonardo as he drew his daggers and parried a blow from the captain.

Artimus has already drawn his sword and killed an approaching guard.

“Drop your weapons now, and maybe I will let you live!” taunted the Captain.

“Never!” replied both brothers simultaneously.

“You will certainly perish!” said the Captain.

“YAAAAA!” screamed Leonardo as he lunged forward at the Captain. The Captain tried to dodge the blows, but did not succeed. The daggers went clean through his chest.

The Captain slumped over and fell to the floor, dead. The doors burst open with several archers rushing into the court. After seeing their fallen leader, they opened fire on the brothers.  Leonardo ducked and twisted around to avoid the arrows; however Artimus was not that lucky. He was in combat with a guard and did not realize the archers were attacking. He was shot three times in the back.

“AHHHH,” he screamed in pain as the arrows penetrated his back.

“NOOOOO” Leonardo cried as he ran a guard through with his daggers. He turned and kicked a guard out of the way, scooped up the limp body of Artimus, and ran out the blown-open door into the wintery wasteland of Drevencore.

As Leonardo burst out the door, still carrying the limp body of Artimus, he immediately spun to his right avoiding incoming volleys of arrows. Dang it, it is winter time, thought Leonardo as he was running for a hill about two miles away. How are we going to survive in this God-forsaken icy wasteland, with no supplies what so ever! We are going to die.  Leonardo thought to himself. I must escape the hands of these traitors, and find shelter for my brother.

Right at the time, he saw the doors to the castle bust open with three soldiers on horseback riding out.   The two princes were on the top of a hill about two miles away. They were so covered in snow that the knights could not tell the difference between them and the snow covered trees.  When the horsemen were long gone, Leonardo started looking for the cave he hoped he could find. He started thinking to himself. I should really start to tend to Artimus’ wounds.  That is priority number one; number two is to find shelter. After about five more minutes of walking in the freezing cold, Leonardo said to himself; finding the cave is the first priority, without the cave we will both die.

Once Leonardo found the cave, he started to tend to Artimus’ wounds. It was a bloody mess, literally and physically. He set up Artimus on a rock for a pillow and lay him down. He finished taking care of Artimus.  Leonardo knew the cave, which was meant for the royal family to hide in if they had to, had firewood and water he just had to find them and bring them to his brother.

After a little while, Leonardo started to hear the sound of water dropping from the top of the cave. He looked up and saw a crack in the top of the cave, and since the cave was warm he decided that the snow must be melting. He looked down and saw a pond about ten feet in diameter. Water! He thought.  Leonardo bent down and started to drink some of the water. He was there for about ten minutes just drinking. Soon Leonardo found the cords of wood he and Artimus brought to the cave during the summer months.  They had used the wood for their campouts.  He went back to the spot that Artimus was resting, bringing water and wood, he started a fire by striking his two daggers together.  He checked on his brother. Artimus seemed to be recovering quite well, so with a heavy sigh Leonardo lay down and fell asleep.

Leonardo was awakened by the sound of a horse clopping loudly into the cave. His hand instinctively went to his daggers. The rider dismounted and went over to the “sleeping” Leonardo.

He heard the mysterious rider draw his sword and say “I am going to kill the fugitives and they will not even put up a fight.”

“Think again” retorted Leonardo as he hurled one of his daggers at the rider. The dagger caught him square in the chest. The rider never had time to scream because he was dead before he even hit the ground.  The horse whinnied as it saw its master die. Leonardo ran over to the horse to calm it. After he calmed the horse down he checked out the gear that was stored on the horse. There were three weeks’ worth of food, and a bow with arrows. Wonderful, Leonardo thought, we can live here until Artimus recovers. Then we can take back our kingdom.

During the next three weeks, the brothers formed a theory.  Their uncle Verrater, Grand Duke of Drevencore, who was also the ambassador to Traliquin. He had always had a desire for the throne, might have plotted with some assassins to have their parents killed on the trip.  He had also probably conspired with the knights and bribed them to work for him.

They were discussing a plan to get into the castle when Artimus thought of the secret passage only they knew about. It was about four feet above the moat, which was currently frozen due to the harsh winter; it was a four by four secret door. During the summer the boys would usually go through it during the night to go fishing or swimming. Now they were going to use it to get back their home.

They waited for a moonless night to camouflage themselves from the tower guards. The night they were waiting for came two and a half weeks later. They snuck past the guards to the frozen moat. From there they crawled across the moat on their bellies.

After they had crossed the moat they opened the secret door and Artimus whispered “Leonardo. We are going to get our home back.”

Leonardo just nodded in reply.  It took them about five minutes to go through the passage; when they finally got to the top Leonardo, who was leading the way, lifted the floor board that covered the entry. When they had both gotten out Leonardo replaced the floor boards, and they were in. When they arrived at their uncle’s room they found two guards standing watch. Leonardo signaled Artimus to go forward.

Artimus went into the hallway and said “Would one of you kind gentlemen please go to the kitchen and get me a midnight snack?”

“Hey!” shouted one of guards. The guards started to chase Artimus but as soon as they turned the corridor they knew it was a trap.  They saw Artimus roll out of the way as two arrows closed on them. One arrow hit one guard and the other arrow hit the other guard. They both dropped dead to the ground.

“Nice work,” said Artimus. “Now let us finish what we have started.”

When they opened the door, Leonardo went over to the uncle Verrater and simultaneously put his hand on his uncle’s mouth and put his dagger on his throat. The uncle immediately woke up.

“I will kill you if you scream,” threated Leonardo. Uncle Verrater nodded. Leonardo continued, “I am going to remove my hand from your mouth and ask you a few questions, understand?” Again uncle Verrater nodded. Leonardo lifted his hand and asked “Did you do it?”

“Do what?” replied uncle Verrater.

“Did you have my parents killed, break your oath, and take my throne?”

“Yes, I did, because your parents were in the way of me being king and you would have been easy to deal with.”

“Well, you were wrong, and tomorrow you will publicly announce your crimes”   Said Leonardo.

The next morning uncle Verrater confessed his crimes publicly. He was taken away; his penalty would certainly be death by the sword.  Justice had been served.

Right before the coronation ceremony Leonardo asked Artimus a question.

“Can I have the throne back?”

Artimus replied, “Of course you can, it was always yours.”

The brother went on with their lives, but their adventure together would never be forgotten. Leonardo ruled as a just king. He eventually got sick of being king and took a leave of absence for one year. He currently gave the throne to Artimus. While he was gone, Leonardo had many adventures of his own, but that is a story for another time.

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MWG Third Annual Tracy Hurley Memorial Writing Contest High School Winners

At the May Meeting of the Mobile Writer’s Guild, we were please to announce the winners of the Third Annual Tracy Hurley Memorial Writing Contest for middle and high school. Writing can be a lonely endeavor and also it can take courage not only to put your thoughts and imagination into words, but also to share it with others. We salute all those who participated for their courage, hard work, and dedication, and are pleased to share with you today the winning stories for high school. We will post the winning entries for middle school on Tuesday, May 27.

FIRST PLACE

OPEN SEASON: A SOUTHERN FAIRY TALE
By India LaPalme
McGill-Toolen High School

Most kids I know have normal grandmothers, sweet old ladies who like to bake and ask endless questions about their day at school. Those kinds of grandmothers get invited to school plays and birthday parties, but the last time I invited my grandmother to anything was my preschool graduation and technically, my mother was the one who asked her.

Why? Well, my entire family has always been a little country: heavy Southern accents, lots of freckles, gun racks in their trucks and their standard dress is t-shirt and jeans.

When I was younger, I got teased for being a redneck because my family is really into hunting. And my grandmother is the worst. She practically lives in camouflage and a pair of hiking boots. I’m not (totally) horrified by the guns she has on the rack inside her truck but I am by the deer antlers she insisted on mounting on the front grill of her Ford F-150.

I don’t even mind her enthusiastic monologing about the right way to make deer jerky (ok, maybe I’m horrified a little about that). The absolute worst thing about my grandmother’s obsession with hunting is that she expects me to share it. Grandma thinks that since I was–and still am–a tomboy, that I’d enjoy shooting innocent woodland creatures.

I’m on my way to Grandma’s house now.

There’s a small shortcut between our houses that I use to get to Grandma’s.  I considered pretending to have a stomach-ache but Mom told me Grandma’s truck has a flat tire, which means we can’t get to the hunting camp. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Grandma has a shooting range behind her house. Still aiming at paper targets beats shooting at live ones any day. I’m resigning myself to another incredibly boring afternoon spent firing at cut-outs of noble-looking deer, frightened bunnies and bored-looking turkeys.

When I sense something behind me, my heartbeat speeds up and I feel stupid for taking the shortcut, but I didn’t want to be late. Grandma’s pretty insensitive about most things, but if you’re not on time, she takes it seriously. Still, I can’t shake the feeling that it would have been a better idea to have taken the long way to her house and risked her wrath.

As soon as I lock eyes with the man standing in front of me, I know my hunch was right.

He steps out into the path so quickly I almost collide with him. I’ve never seen him before, and I would have remembered if I had. He has dark skin and even darker eyes and very white teeth which gleam as he grins at me. He pushes his hair to one side with a long, slender  hand, and takes a step forward. I instinctively step back and he raises an eyebrow but stops. I feel a surge of relief. My eyes dart to the side and I think about running but, somehow, I know he’d catch me in a heartbeat.

“You must be Ruby’s daughter.”

When the man speaks, it makes my skin crawl. His voice is low and smooth and tries too hard to sound nice. A phrase Granma uses sometimes uses pops into my head. A wolf in sheep’s clothing. I’m so nervous it takes a moment for the words to sink in.

I gape at him, unable to hide my surprise and he chuckles, the sound making me flinch.     “I thought so,” he says.  “Something about you reminds me of her.”

I find my voice at last.

“How do you know my mother?” I ask.  I’m surprised that my voice is so steady.

The man takes another step forward. “I’d like to see her again. Is she at home?”

I shake my head desperately. She’s at home work now but there’s no way I’m telling him that.

He seems to get the message.

“Well, I’ll be seeing you,” he drawls.

It sounds less like a goodbye and more like a threat. His eyes fall on the basket I’m holding.

“What have you got here?”

I stiffen. It’s a dumb thing to do—they’re just cookies Mom made for Grandma —but I can’t help it. The man’s smile, which disappeared when I didn’t answer his question, reappears.

“Bringing Grandma a little something, huh?”

He starts to walk away and I blurt out, “Wait! Who are you? I mean, who should I say asked about her?”

The man laughs. “Never mind. She’ll know who I am.”

The tone of his voice reminds me the popular girls who make fun of me when Grandma drops me off at school. They think it’s funny to ask me how life on the farm’s going. Except this guy scares me more than they ever have.

And then he’s vanishing into the trees, leaving me staring after him heart pounding like I’ve just run a marathon. And all I can think of is “I’m still alive!”

It feels so ridiculous that I almost start laughing. But then I glance at my watch and realize that I’ve only got five minutes before Grandma thinks I got lost and has a panic attack. (She does have her normal, grandmotherly moments). Sort of . . .

I sprint the rest of the way to Grandma’s house, suddenly desperate to see that she’s all right. When I get there, everything seems normal. Her truck with the slightly deflated tire is still parked in the driveway and I can hear music playing from inside the house, something loud and twangy that makes me want to cover my ears.

I race up the porch steps and push open the screen door. The house’s interior is cool and smells like the coffee she drinks by the gallon. I head into the kitchen but see that it’s empty. I gulp. Does this mean she already went looking for me? Grandma could have gotten a cell phone a long time ago—Mom offered to pick her one out but she refused. As a result, instead of texting us when something goes wrong, she goes into a full-out panic.

I do a quick search of the rest of the house, but no luck. I’m about to head back home because that’s the first place Grandma will check when I see a flash of red in the backyard. I’d know that t-shirt anywhere. It’s Grandma’s favorite, the one that proclaims in bold script A Bad Day Hunting Deer is Still a Good Day! She even wore it to my preschool graduation all those many years ago.

I step closer to the window, nearly pressing my nose against the glass in order to see better. Grandma’s pretty far from the house, but now that I’m looking, I can see her standing beyond the targets near the tree line. And someone is standing with her. My heart leaps into my throat. I can’t be sure, but it looks like my grandmother is talking to a man.

I don’t think, I just act. I whip out my phone and text Mom. And then I sneak out the back door. Once outside the house, I slip into the small strip of forest that separates Grandma from the neighbor’s house and sneak forward carefully. I peek between the branches and see that it’s him. He’s leaning forward getting in Grandma’s face, but she’s standing her ground.

I begin to walk faster. I want to find out who this guy is. A knot forms in the pit of my stomach. By now I’m getting close enough that I can hear their voices. The man sounds angry, almost furious, but Grandma is calm. Her gaze keeps darting back to the house though, and I realize she’s worried that I’ll show up. I wish I had some way to let her know I’m here.

“Is she?” The man snarls. “I won’t ask you again, Red.”

Grandma gives him a long hard look that says she doesn’t care how many times he asks here.

“I’m telling you I don’t know, and even if I did I wouldn’t tell you, Andrew.”

He flinches slightly at the name and for a moment he doesn’t seem quite so terrifying, but the moment quickly passes and now he’s advancing on my grandmother, forcing her to back up a little.

“I think you’re lying.”

To her credit, Grandma doesn’t even blink. My hands clench into fists and I wrestle with the urge to jump out and yell at him to get away from her. The only thing that stops me is fear of making this situation even worse than it already is, but then Andrew goes and does just that.

“I met your granddaughter today. She’s such a sweet, innocent little girl.”

The way he croons my name makes me sick.

Grandma stiffens. “Leave Scarlett out of this,” she says in a low voice that makes me glad I’m not the one she’s mad at. Andrew shrugs nonchalantly.

“I’m afraid it’s a little too late for that.”

Grandma’s eyes widen.

“What have you–?”

Andrew holds up a hand and amazingly, she stops talking. He smirks.

“That’s much better. I’d appreciate it if you’d show a little more respect. For Scarlett’s sake, you understand.”

Grandma clamps her mouth shut, pressing her lips together in a firm line, the skin around her mouth turning white. I let out a little gasp and Andrew frowns, turning his head in my direction. Grandma looks so worried about me. I always assumed that I was just the granddaughter she dragged along on her hunting trips. She looks so upset that it takes all the willpower I have not to call out to her. And then I’m really glad I don’t because he takes something out of his pocket.

It’s a pistol, a tiny thing really, compared to the rifles we use here on the shooting range, but I know it can be very effective at close range and I have a sudden vision of him raising the gun, smirking triumphantly and firing. And once again, I act without thinking. I step into his line of sight and cry, “Wait!” Their heads snap towards me.  His grip on the gun loosens slightly. Grandma’s acts immediately. She lunges forward, yanks her arm back, and punches his nose.

Hard . . .

I’m suddenly grateful for the ungrandmotherly muscles she’s developed from years of hefting a rifle.

As he crumples to the ground, he drops the gun and cradles his nose, blood gushing between his fingers. But it doesn’t take him long to recover. He gets to his feet and moves toward Grandma too fast for her to get out of the way. He plows into her and they both go down. Grandma hits the ground with a smack that makes me wince in sympathy. Then Andrew is on top of her, those slender hands squeezing her neck. Grandma makes a strangled sound and her face turns red. She catches my eye and her look orders me to run, but I don’t. I bend down and snatch the gun off the ground. I check to make sure the safety is off and point it at the back of Andrew’s head, then I say in the deadliest voice I can manage, “Don’t move!”

Andrew laughs but he relaxes his grip on Grandma’s neck. She takes a wheezing breath, and I sag in relief.

“You won’t shoot me,“ Andrews says confidently. “You’re just a little girl. I bet you can’t even bring yourself to shoot a deer.”

I stiffen because he’s right. How many times had I refused to do that very thing?

He laughs. “I bet she drags you on her little hunting expeditions too, doesn’t she?”

Grandma’s eyes widen a little and I can see that she’s in pain. What he said has hurt her and I reply, “You don’t know anything about her!”

He just laughs. “Oh, I know more than you think little Scarlett.”

“Don’t call me that!” I flush, ashamed at letting him get to me so easily. He starts to say something else, but then I hear a voice shout.

“Scarlett!”

It’s Mom and she races across the grass, still in her business suit and heels, moving faster than I’ve ever seen her move. She comes to a stop in front of us.

She turns to me and says briskly, “Scarlett, give me the gun.”

I gladly pass is to her and she turns to Andrew.

“I’ve already called the police.”

He laughs, but it’s a desperate laugh.

“Ruby, let me go and you’ll never see me again.”

“I wish I could,” my mother answers sadly.

When the police arrive, they handcuff Andrew and shove him into a police car and then they take our statements. After they’ve gone, Mom leads me into the kitchen and heats up some coffee.  and Grandma and I stand facing each other. The bruises on her neck cause fresh anger to surge through me.

Mom is sitting at the table, her face worried.

“I’m going to tell her,” she says quietly. Then she tells me who Andrew is—her first love, the boyfriend that broke her heart when she was about my age.

There’s silence for a few minutes and Mom busies herself passing out cookies and cups of coffee.

Finally, Grandma says, “Scarlett, I’m sorry I’ve made you go hunting with me.”

I flush a little, ashamed that she knows.

“Your mother and her sisters never enjoyed it, but I thought you would.” Her voice sounds sad, even defeated.

I feel guilty for all the times I rebelled against going hunting with Grandma. For a minute I’m worried that Andrew has stolen something from her, that thing that makes her my Grandma, the grandmother I groan and complain about but couldn’t imagine life without.

“Scarlett, you don’t have to go hunting with me anymore if you don’t want to.

Her face is completely sincere, and I feel a rush or relief, but then, I remember pointing the gun at Andrew and how strong I felt, despite my terror (both of him and of accidentally shooting him.)

“Hunting’s not really my thing, Grandma,” I say, “but I wouldn’t mind practicing on the shooting range with you once in a while.”

My grandmother’s obsession with hunting no longer seems to be that bad.  So she expects me to share it—okay, I can live with that.

Grandma beams at me and I realize that I love her and I know that she loves me, so I open my mouth and say what I’ve been wanting to get the courage to ask for a long time.

“Do you think you can come to our school play? I got the part of the part of Kate in The Taming of the Shrew.”

Maybe I can convince her to leave the camouflage at home, but if not, it’s no big deal. She is, after all, Grandma.

SECOND PLACE

THE FELINE WITHIN
by Tanner Pringle
McGill-Toolen Catholic High School

In a small city by the ocean lived a girl and her mother. They lived in a two room apartment, but they had plenty of money. The mother was a surgeon, meaning she always worked late at night, never getting to see her daughter. The daughter was a sophomore at the local high school with very high grades but few friends. The girl was special, for she was hiding a secret from her mother and the world.

“What is your problem Alexandria? Why are you so ugly?” screamed a guy while he pushed her into a locker. She slipped and fell to the floor. He went in for another hit. Alexandria was more agile than he had expected and was able to more before he could get to her.

“Just leave me alone! I never did anything to you,” she murmured more to herself than to him.

“I know you’re hiding something from the world. One day I’ll find out what you’re hiding and I’ll expose the truth about you,” he snarled at her and walked off.

Alexandria sank to her knees and started crying. The secret she has been hiding was now close to being exposed. She got up and decided it was time to leave. She grabbed her bag and walked out when no one was looking. She walked straight home and went to bed because she knew her mom wouldn’t be home for a while.

Hours had passed and the apartment door shut. Alexandria’s mother had just gotten home.

“All you do is work, do you think that you could ever make some time for me?” the girl screamed.

“I try to, okay? You know I am just trying to provide a living for us. It’s not my fault I am always on call. They won’t allow me to change my schedule for a while, I’m sorry…” The mother wasn’t sure what to say. She knew she couldn’t do a thing.

“I’m going to stay at a friends for a few days. I’ll be back,” mumbled Alexandria, but she knew she’d never be back. With these final parting words, she packed her belongings. By midnight, she was ready to leave.

“I’m not allowing you to go,” chided the mother. ”You are staying here. Don’t even think about walking out that door.”

Alexandria put her hand on the doorknob and slowly started turning the latch. The mother gave her a warning but she never stopped. Soon enough, she flung the door wide open.

“Don’t you dare leave, Alexandria!” screamed the mother, but it was too late, she had already fled.

Alexandria ran. She ran as fast as she possibly could. She didn’t know where she was going, but something in her heart told her to run toward the sea. She followed her urges, leading her to a tiny beach just past the woods. On the beach was a boat, just big enough for four people. As she neared the boat, the feeling in her heart grew stronger, so with a sigh she threw her bags into the boat and pushed the boat out to sea. She decided not to paddle but to allow the water to carry her wherever its gentle waves pleased. And so began the first day of the great adventure taken on by the 15-year-old Alexandria.

She had stayed awake all night, listening and watching for anything. At last, when the first rays of light began to appear, she saw it: a small island that she knew would be her new home. After hours of waiting, she hit the island. She darted out of the boat and onto the sand. She stared into the forest that laid ahead of her. Trees she thought she’d never find on an island in the ocean, such as pine trees and oak trees, filled the forest. The forest floor was covered in a thick green grass that was soft as a bed. Such sights overwhelmed Alexandria, and she collapsed into the grass, slowly drifting off into a deep dream.

Hours had passed, by this time it could’ve been close to three in the afternoon, but Alexandria didn’t know the time since she had decided to leave her phone back in the city. She awoke with a start, completely forgetting where she was. As reality hit her, she felt a sense of peace. Maybe it was from the soft crashing noises of waves hitting the shore or the cool breeze that gently blew through her hair. She wasn’t sure what made her feel this way. With this new sense of peace, she stood up and decided it was time to look for a place to build a home.

She only had to walk a few feet into the woods when she found it a tree house big enough for three people to fully live in. It was perfect. She stood there underneath it in great amazement.

“Who could’ve built such a large place? Maybe there are people here…” she whispered to herself. “I just need to get a closer look. Maybe I can live in it if it really is abandon.”

She began climbing the little ladder on the tree. As she reached the top, she listened but couldn’t hear any unfamiliar sounds. With a final sigh, she busted through the door and into the house.

“There’s nothing here. There’s no one even here…” she said aloud and looked around. It was no ordinary tree house. It had a small living room, a very tiny kitchen, and two beds in the corner, but Alexandria wasn’t complaining.

“I’ll wait here until someone comes back maybe,” she whispered as she went and lay down in the king-sized bed that looked oh-so-inviting.

Alexandria passed out by the time her head hit the pillow. She slept for hours and still no one came to the house. When she woke up she decided that the place really was abandoned, the person came here, built this house and left it, not even remembering it still existed.

“I guess this place is mine now, but I’ll just have to wait and see if anyone ever comes back,” she said as a half smile danced on her lips. She walked outside the door at the end of the room to discover a small porch. However, as she stood on her porch taking in the beauty of the stars, forest, and sea, she began to think.

“I wonder what Mom would say about this. I’m going to be just fine out here. I’m going to be just fine… I hope.” She sighed, but in her mind she questioned if she was really going to be okay.

When the final rays of light faded, she walked back inside and lit the candles in the room to save her from the grip of darkness. She made herself some of the food she had packed while thinking about her adventures for the next day.

“I need to collect food in the morning. Eh, that shouldn’t be too hard to do.”

With her thoughts of the next day swimming in her head, she lay down in the bed. As she lay there and stared up at the ceiling, she realized that the roof above the bed was just a glass pane.

“This window is for looking at the stars, how interesting. Well at least the stars will protect me while I sleep.” Her eyes began to grow heavy.

Alexandria lay there just thinking about life. But while she was thinking and so close to sleep, she heard the noise.

A small noise, barely even loud enough to pick up.

A meow.

Days had passed since she heard it. She wasn’t even sure if she had really heard it or not. She considered the possibility that is was just her imagination playing tricks with her. Real or not, she kept the thought of a “meow” in the back of her mind.

She had been doing fine ever since she left. She had plenty of food and basic necessities. On her seventh day, she went down to the sea and went swimming. She had done it a few times while on the island, but this time was different. She felt as though she were being watched. She ignored the sensation until it was almost unbearable, and with a scream she ran back to the house.

She climbed the tree as fast as she could, for she heard the soft noise of another set of feet hitting the grass somewhere in the woods around her. Tears were streaming down her face, and she was slowly starting to panic.

“This can’t… be happening…” she whispered between shaky breaths once she got into the house and locked the door. She inched her way to the balcony and slowly walked out onto it. She stared out into the forest below her, into the trees that were eye level with her, and through the trees onto the beach. While she scanned the beach area, she saw it.

It was figure, around her size, maybe even smaller than her but not by much. It had white hair with black lowlights. The figure was facing the water, crouched down at the edge of the shore. Alexandria examined the figures hair and started moving her eyes down its body. This is when she saw that it was a white tail with a black tip. It was swaying slowly, as if about to pounce on a fish that was in the water.

Alexandria backed away from the window, about to pass out. All the questions she could ever imagine were flying through her head. She stumbled to her bed and lay down. She stared at her ceiling. Her secret came into her mind, but she put it away.

“This isn’t possible, it really is not possible,” she whispered to herself. She sat up and stared at her hands. She wasn’t scared, but more surprised. She thought about the appearance of the girl. She knew it was a girl from the long hair, even the structure of the body gave it away: small, thin, and very feminine. She didn’t know what to think of the creature.

“Maybe I can talk to her. Maybe she’ll understand me and be able to talk back. I need to find her first though.”

Alexandria silently climbed down the tree and stalked through the forest. As she neared the beach she made sure each of her steps were very cautious but deliberate. She was as quiet as a deer. When she reached the beach, the feline girl wasn’t there anymore. Instead, a track of paw prints led into the woods. Alexandria followed these tracks until they ended abruptly.

She walked right into the feline girl; who was only a few inches shorter than her.

Alexandria couldn’t believe it. She was standing right there within two feet of this girl. Her long white hair with black lowlights and her white tail with a black tip made her look like a raven covered in snow, and a black band around each of her wrists and ankles and a scar on her side looked like she had been clawed in a fight. But Alexandria wasn’t afraid. She felt at peace with this stranger.

As slowly as she could, Alexandria lifted her hand in front of her and kept it there in midair. The cat girl did the same, and their hands met.

“My name is Alexandria,” she said to the creature, “and I am part cat too.” While she was saying this, with her other hand Alexandria reached around behind her and pulled out her tail. It was black as a sky filled with ashes and a little longer that the other girl’s tail.  The world came shattering down around her as she finally told someone her biggest secret.

By this time, Alexandria was staring at the top of the girls head. This entire time she had never looked at Alexandria but instead stared at the ground. At last she moved her head.

Alexandria was met with eyes the color of the ocean: a navy blue. The girl had different eyes though. In the navy color were flecks of a bright turquoise blue that stood out and made that dark navy have life. Her eyes looked as if they were a galaxy.

“My name is Midnight. Welcome to my home.”

A week had passed since they met. From that point on they had become best friends. They knew everything about each other. Alexandria had found out that the scar on Midnight’s side were from an accident. She told Alexandria how she had been climbing the rocks on the island and slipped, cutting her side open every time she struck a rock. Alexandria also found out that Midnight had built the tree house as her home. Midnight said she never knew where she came from but she woke up one day on the island. Her past was a blur. That’s all she had to say to Alexandria.

After finding things out about Midnight, Alexandria started to say things about herself. She told her about her time at school and how her mom was never home. She told her things about the city and the places she would go for fun. She told Midnight the luxuries of family and friends. She got choked up when she talked about it but realized she was happy with her new friend, Midnight.

Years had now passed since the fateful night when Alexandria ran away. The two girls cared for each others just as normal sisters would. Nothing would ever separate them. For the rest of theirs lives they lived out on this island, far away from the others. Far away from the hate. Far away from the ones who would hurt them because of their secret. Their adventure had just begun.

THIRD PLACE

LISTEN
By Anna Alford
St. Paul’s Episcopal School

Marcy was a young girl heralding from a wealthy family, homeschooled and pampered with exotic luxuries since birth. There was nothing particularly special regarding her family, excluding the fact that the father had died young. Nonetheless, the mother and child thrived among the top tier in society, for they spent their days in leisurely humdrum and went to church every Sunday like every other family in the neighborhood. Their excess of money was funneled into presenting Marcy with a vast array of books to occupy her with reading. Among her favorites were romantic tales of chivalry and forbidden love between knights and princesses.  She loved them so much, in fact, that she was inspired to weave together her own tale of such an occurrence with a character she could relate to.

“Mother,” Marcy asked as her mother helped fix her hair for church. “What kind of person would you forbid me to love?”

Marcy’s mother clearly did not think much of the silly question but gave an honest reply. “Someone impoverished, I suppose.”

Marcy had not anticipated that answer. “But why?”

“They are filthy, slow-witted and lacking in social graces,” her mother answered sharply, displeased with the discussion. “Your father and I hoped to spare you from ever being associated with them, so do not trouble yourself with worrying about such foolish things.”

Marcy, for once, could not understand her mother’s orders. After several failed attempts at writing a story she had no firsthand experience with herself, Marcy was determined to find answers. Therefore, the next day after her mother left the house and the maids occupied themselves with cleaning, Marcy slipped out the side door without attracting anyone’s notice. She fled the streets until she was clear of the towering, extravagant mansions and was greeted instead by stouter buildings, a few of which were held together with aged, chipped paint and shockingly plain decorations.

The first man she spotted in this change of scenery was collapsed against a white, crooked fence, hugging a torn, poorly sown blue blanket checkered with lopsided fish and a large pack filled with what looked like his only belongings to his chest for warmth. His darkened clothes clung to his small frame with years of being unwashed, complimenting his frowzy beard and sullen eyes appropriately. The sight of him filled Marcy with awe and wonder at how someone that looked so different from her could belong to her same species.

This thought fueled her determination. Marcy approached the man with caution until his empty eyes flickered up to her own, widening with what seemed to be disbelief and surprise, though Marcy knew not why.

“You!” The wearied man called, but then seemed to reprimand himself for speaking too loudly, for he immediately lowered his voice. “What is a young girl in such flashy clothes doing in a place like this? No, before you answer, hide yourself with this.”  He tossed her the blanket he had been warming himself with, which Marcy caught and unquestioningly pulled tightly around her in hopes of alleviating his alarm. “Very good. Now at least you won’t attract many stares.”

Marcy was aware that he was doing her a favor, though she wasn’t clear on how. She graciously thanked him nevertheless. Moving closer in a gesture that implied she wished to speak with him for a longer while, Marcy asked him about what made the poor so different from herself.

“Well, if you must know,” he replied, “the main difference between you and me is the level of extravagance we surround ourselves with.”

This sounded acutely contrary to what her mother had told her. Marcy pressed on. “Are all of you like that?”

The old man cracked a smile. “Honestly, some of us are just lazy. Others try to run away from life and their responsibilities. More than you realize, however, are crushed by the competition or trampled underfoot by misfortune that we can’t seem to escape, no matter how hard we struggle. That’s just the kind of world we live in, but I don’t expect a little girl to understand. Run on home, now.”

Marcy tilted her head, refusing to budge. “Were you always poor, mister? Mama says poor people aren’t very smart.”

“You mother also surely warned you not to run away to get robbed somewhere, but you didn’t seem to listen to that.” The old man’s eyes crinkled with memories. “Yes, I was an ordinary man before this. I tried to enter the world as an entrepreneur, but I wasn’t very good at investing. I lost money – slowly at first, but it soon snowballed – and before I realized it was happening, everyone around me had abandoned me. Everyone I had thought supported me, my co-workers, my wife and my child, fled the moment things got rough. I chose not to try again. I let life’s relentless flood take me to where I am now, but I get by without letting stress eat me away until I’m just a mundane corpse in a grave.” He seemed to be trying not to sound regretful, but a tear slipped into the crook of his eye. He met the gaze of the innocent little girl who watched him wonderingly, possibly reflecting the image of his own daughter and the lifestyle he had once wanted to give her. “What is your name?”

“Marcy.”

Marcy thought she saw a shadow of a smile creep onto the old man’s weathered features, but it vanished before she could be sure.  “Well, if I can’t force you to leave of your own accord, then allow a lonely old man to impart some wisdom on you. I may regret the choices I made to become the way I am now, but that was because I was a coward. This lifestyle has opened my eyes to valuable things I could never have seen otherwise. Though it may be too much to ask of someone I have only just met, I don’t want you to be consumed by greed. It’s a great mystery among those who are blinded by it, but there is a simple way to cure the unhappiness of the over-fortunate. If you have so much to the point of it obscuring your vision of the world and consuming your happiness, then you must learn to give it away and experience loss.”

Marcy couldn’t wrap her mind around this foreign concept. “Give it away? But why? Shouldn’t those who work hard get rewarded for their efforts?”

“A true reward isn’t achieved through material objects. It’s the blessings of those around you and the joy you can receive from selflessly contributing to others’ happiness. Soon, happiness will find its way to you.” The old man seemed to catch himself. “But who am I to be lecturing a child on such philosophical things? You probably aren’t listening to me anyway. Go on, now; your mother must be worried.”
Marcy smiled. She was wrong to have assumed things. Everyone was different, but they were also the same. “One other thing confuses me, mister,” she said. “You claim that people are greedy and that not everyone is like you, but how do I know that everyone won’t abuse the stuff I give them?”

The old man thought for a moment. “Well, if you were to give others anything, what they would do with it is entirely up to them. You can’t make other people’s decisions for them. If they choose to abuse it, then that choice will weigh on their own hearts. It is enough for them to know that someone out there cares and is willing to toss them a life line, even if they choose not to climb it.”

Marcy knew she would never forget this conversation with the old man, who had been so eager to share what he knew to those willing to listen. He allowed the battered blanket, the only piece of warmth he owned, to cloak the young girl as she fled home in disguise.

***

The old man watched the young girl leave with hope and regret shining in his wizened grey eyes. He could not comprehend how such a compassionate girl could be the daughter of the shallow women that had left him, but her name, her wide blue eyes and almond-colored hair that framed her petite face were things that he could never erase from his weary memory. She was the mirror image of that pitiful woman, whose remembrance still brought aches to his heart.

He could never tell Marcy the truth. He wanted her to have nothing to do with the shame and sorrow that knowing his identity would bring. Her eager attentiveness was more than he ever could have wished for, and eased his anxiety more than any sympathy could.

The old man leaned his head back against the fence and turned his eyes upward to the vast, starry night sky.  The precious blanket he had given away was not missed. Something greater than his blanket warmed him now, something he had not felt since the distant years before his life had been warped by greed and the consuming nature of money: a simple joy that was only received from someone who truly listened without regard for status or wealth.

***

That night, Marcy was acutely aware of the abundant proportion of food and other excessive privileges bestowed upon her that she realized were not essential for her well-being at all. She was sharply aware that her mother, absorbed in the haunting stress that always clung to a woman of high status, wore an expression of deep unhappiness as she seemed to be trying in vain to distract herself with the lavish luxuries around her. Heeding the old man’s advice, Marcy offered the idea of donating some of their excess money and food to the poor. Her mother reprimanded her harshly before sending her to her room with sharp words of disapproval. The notion was foolish.

Her nonsensical scolding barely affected her enough to hamper her determination. When the sun had long since fallen and the moon shone full through her bedroom window, Marcy sat at her elegant desk illuminated by a quaint light and delivered her thoughts to paper. She wrote a story about a beautiful lady from a wealthy family who leaves home to marry a poor, smart man that goes into business. The man faces many problems along the way, but he never gives up and can soon afford a moderate house for his beloved family. He freely shares his material possessions with the people around him, and though he never uses the money to heighten his fame or establish a name for himself, his generous deeds are forever embedded into the hearts of those around him. HisTheir family is remembered as one of the happiest in the village.

As the black ink dyed her paper with thoughts, Marcy felt that she was no longer writing a story for herself anymore. She was writing for the old man and the myriad of obscure people he represented. She felt obligated to visit the old man again as soon as she could. Instead of just returning what he had so graciously lent her, however, she would bring one of her own warm, clean blankets and her finished story as a present.

Marcy could never decipher the inexplicable joy that appeared to light the old man’s eyes whenever she saw him again, but she treasured him more than anyone she had ever known, and they grew to be the best of friends. He looked younger every time she visited, and she fervently hoped that her presents of smuggled food, everyday objects and her accumulating unpublished stories about him were deeply helping him in some way unseen to the eye. She was introduced to various other men, women, and even children who dwelled in similar circumstances like the old man. Every one of them was no less respectful and no less human than the last.

One evening, after Marcy had completed her third story and left her house two days before Sunday out of her eagerness to share it with her closest friend and critic, the hopeful girl could find no one leaning against the battered wooden fence that had always served as a support for the old man. Reasoning that perhaps it was a spot that he only occupied on Sundays, Marcy returned home and impatiently awaited the arrival of the day of rest, but nothing changed. The weathered fence remained vacant. A week passed, and still the old man did not return. Marcy did not see his wise, expressive eyes ever again, but she never stopped visiting.

Marcy was revered as a writer by the old man and the few oppressed who read and shared her stories. Though her mother forbade her ideas from being published, those who did read her stories never forgot them and continued to pass on their inspiring messages to all who would listen.  On her death bed, Marcy’s mother finally had enough idle time to read the story that was alien to the world she had lived in. Warm tears drenched her pillow.

“Marcy, listen to me,” her mother croaked in a hoarse voice, grasping her daughter’s hand with a surprising sense of urgency. “Your father did not die when you were a little girl. I know that’s what I have always told you, and I thought that it was also what your father would have wanted you to believe, but now – now I am not sure anymore. You must understand – I believed that leaving him was the best choice for the both of us. I believed that if I had stayed with him, all of us would have fallen into poverty together, and that was the worst thing that could have ever happened.  You must forgive me, I was a fool-” her voice hitched on a sob, and she outstretched a shivering hand towards her bedside drawer. Marcy immediately understood and pulled back the handle. Pressed against the wood beneath a layer of dust was a photograph. Peering out from the worn white edges sat a young man lovingly embraced from behind by a beautiful, brown-haired woman leaning over an identical, brown-haired toddler tightly clutching a poorly sown blue blanket checkered with lopsided fish from above her perch on her father’s knees.

Marcy squeezed her mother’s frail hand with such gentle force that the old woman looked into her daughter’s blurry eyes in silence. Her mother could not comprehend the powerful emotions, which consisted of shocked realization and infinite tenderness, which quietly dripped from her daughter’s steady gaze. “I forgive you, mother,” she assured her softly. “Both of you.”

At that moment, the aged mother and forgiving daughter shared honest, almost joyful tears together for the first time in their lives.  The old woman graciously granted her daughter the long-awaited permission that would allow her to become famous for the stories she’d based off her father, contributing to a steady stream of funds donated to the endless amount of poor people that forever occupied a cherished place in her heart. The hour before her death, Marcy’s withered mother finally listened to her daughter and repented.

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MAY NEWSLETTER

NEWS BANNER

The Write Stuff
The Official Newsletter of Mobile Writers Guild
April 29, 2014
Volume 4 Issue 11

From the President:

So we’re now sliding into our final meeting of our calendar year! As a reminder, we don’t meet over the summer and we start our new calendar year in September. Hopefully everyone’s been working hard on their goals! Also this Thursday’s meeting will be busy, with the young writer contest winner announcements, election of new officers, and our presentation! Looking forward to see you all. As a reminder, nominations are still open for officer positions, so please don’t be shy! We will still be open for nominations at the meeting, and each candidate needs a nomination and a second, and then we’ll vote. See you Thursday!

-Angela Trigg w/a Angela Quarles
2013-2014 MWG President

Upcoming Events/Opportunities:

Our next monthly meeting is this THURSDAY, May 1, in the first floor meeting room of the West Regional Library from 6-7:30pm. Our guest speaker will be our own Joyrce Scarbrough. The title of Joyce’s talk is “Let’s Get Mental! How to Write Crazy Characters” and she considers herself a quasi-expert on the topic for two reasons: her fondness for writing them herself and her experiences with some certifiably crazy people in her family. Crazy characters are fun to write because of the freedom they afford the author in what they can do and what can happen in the story, but if not done properly, crazy characters can easily become cartoonish clichés. Joyce will show everyone how to avoid the most common mistakes and how to dig a little deeper into their crazy psyches to make them real people that readers can relate to. Joyce served as president of the Mobile Writers Guild from 2007-2010. She was also the senior editor for Champagne Books from 2004-2008, when she left to focus on her own writing. She has three published novels—TRUE BLUE FOREVER, DIFFERENT ROADS and SYMMETRY, and she also has short stories featured in six different anthologies. Her next book release will be AFTER ME, the first installment in her “Unfinished” paranormal YA series, available this summer from Buzz Books USA. Joyce writes fulltime and also does freelance editing for a very select group of clients. She’s lived all her life in beautiful LA (lower Alabama), she’s the mother of three gifted (nonconformist) children, and she’s been married for 31 years to the love of her life—a superhero who disguises himself during the day as a high school math teacher and coach at Baker High School. Joyce is also the world’s biggest blue enthusiast, hence her blog’s name—Blue Attitude. There you can find writing advice, fangirling over her favorite books, nerdy grammar rants, shameless self-promotion, and justification for her penchant for using words such as “penchant” and “hence.”

Taking officer nominations! If you have anyone in mind to nominate as an officer, please do so by either posting it in our private group on facebook, or in person at Thursday’s meeting. The positions are: President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. Please note that the VP is in charge of programming for the year, so keep that in mind.

Are you a writer? A poet? Sense wants to hear from you! Sense, a local magazine, welcomes short fiction, essays, humor and poetry submissions. Submit your edgy, eclectic work to editor@thesenseofitall.com and it could be published in the next issue of Sense!

The Third Annual Tracy Hurley Memorial Writing Contest. We are excited by the number of entries we received and will be proud to announce the winners at Thursdays meeting and present them with their prizes. Thank you to Carrie Cox and Joyce Scarbrough for running the event and judging the entries!

Greg Iles will be at Centennial Hall at Faulkner State on May 4. An American writer at the height of his creative powers, #1 New York Times bestselling novelist Greg Iles returns with his most eagerly anticipated book yet, and his first in five years — Natchez Burning, the first installment in an epic trilogy that weaves crimes, lies, and secrets past and present into a mesmerizing thriller featuring southern mayor and former prosecutor Penn Cage. Join us at 2 pm at Centennial Hall as Greg signs and discusses his new book. Tickets are $5 and may be used as a coupon toward the book purchase.

Cassandra King will be at The Venue in Fairhope on May 5. Written with a blend of humor and practical wisdom, The Same Sweet Girl’s Guide to Life offers inspiration and solid advice to new graduates that can sustain them through life’s inevitable ups and downs. In this small book you will find advice that will only grow in meaning throughout the years. It can — and should — be read again and again, by thoughtful people of all ages. Join us as we host Cassandra King to sign and discuss her new book over lunch beginning at 12 pm at The Venue. Tickets to the event are $15 and include lunch and $5 off the purchase of the book.

Member News:

Continue to send in your writing news and author events to mobilewritersguild@gmail.com so we can share your milestones with the community.

Where to find us:

www.mobilewritersguild.com
www.facebook.com/pages/Mobile-Writers-Guild/132422949536?ref=hnav
On Twitter: @MobileWriters
Email: mobilewritersguild@gmail.com

Remember that comments, suggestions, and questions are welcome—both online and at the meetings. Thanks for your continued support!

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APRIL NEWSLETTER

NEWS BANNER

The Write Stuff
The Official Newsletter of Mobile Writers Guild
April 2, 2014
Volume 4 Issue 10

From the President:

Are we finally into Spring? What a winter, huh? Hopefully everyone’s been working hard on their queries, if applicable, and their goals for this month! Be thinking of what you’d like to accomplish for the next month as well and be ready to mark it down at Thursday’s meeting!

-Angela Trigg w/a Angela Quarles
2013-2014 MWG President

Upcoming Events/Opportunities:

Our next monthly meeting is this THURSDAY, April 3rd, in the first floor meeting room of the West Regional Library from 6-7:30pm. Our guest speaker will be Watt Key. Watt Key is an award-winning southern fiction wrtier. His debut novel, ALABAMA MOON, was released to national acclaim in 2006, won the prestigious E.B. White Read-Aloud Award and has been published in eight languages. A feature film by the same name was produced in 2010 starring John Goodman and Jimmy Bennet for which Watt wrote the screenplay. His follow-up novel, DIRT ROAD HOME, was released in 2010 both domestically and internationally. His next novel, FOURMILE, released in September of 2012. Watt also wrote the original screenplay for the feature film LA DIRT starring Michael Roark and Tracy Lawrence. In addition to his novels and screenplays, Watt writes fiction and nonfiction articles for both local and nationally distributed publications.

Taking officer nominations! We only have two meetings left before the end of our term, so if you have anyone in mind to nominate as an officer, please do so by either posting it in our private group on facebook, or in person at Thursday’s meeting. The positions are: President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. Please note that the VP is in charge of programming for the year, so keep that in mind.

Are you a writer? A poet? Sense wants to hear from you! Sense, a local magazine, welcomes short fiction, essays, humor and poetry submissions. Submit your edgy, eclectic work to editor@thesenseofitall.com and it could be published in the next issue of Sense!

The Third Annual Tracy Hurley Memorial Writing Contest

We didn’t receive any entries last fall, so we’re trying again, and already have several entries, yay! Below are the details–please reach out to any eligible young writer and encourage them to enter!

  • SHORT STORY contest open to all students grades 6-12th in Mobile and Baldwin counties.
  • Entries must be between 500-2500 words, and will be rated based on plot structure, grammar/spelling, and originality.
  • No foul language, adult content, or unnecessary violence permitted.
  • Include your name, grade, school/homeschool covering, and story in the body of an e-mail (paste your story in the e-mail below your information), mark “WRITING CONTEST” in the subject line, and send to wonderwegian@gmail.com. Deadline for entries is midnight, on Sunday, April 13, 2014.
  • Failure to follow all directions will result in disqualification.
  • Finalist will be notified via e-mail, and winners will be awarded their prizes on Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 6pm in the meeting room of the West Regional Library.
  • Two categories for judging: Middle School (6-8th grades) and High School (9-12th grades), with first, second, and third place winners in both categories.
    Prizes include cash ($25 first place, $15 second place, and $10 third place), a professional critique of the short story, and on-line publication for winners in both categories (with parental permission.)

abfThe Alabama Book Festival (ABF) seeks volunteers for this year’s event. The Festival will take place on Saturday, April 19, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at Old Alabama Town in downtown Montgomery. Volunteers are needed throughout the day. ABF 2014 will showcase approximately sixty authors and presenters, including nationally recognized writers, book artists, printers, publishers, book sellers, and performers. As always, the Book Fest will feature books about history, music, and other nonfiction sujects. It will also showcase fiction, poetry, children’s books, and other genres. The theme for 2014 is The Year of Alabama Parks. For more information, contact Robby Cole, Volunteer Coordinator, Alabama Book Festival at 667-777-2793 or alabamabookfestival@gmail.com. Website: http://www.alabamabookfestival.org/welcome.html

Member News:

Congratulations to member Joyce Scarbrough for her re-release of her book Symmetry! See her blog for more details!

Continue to send in your writing news and author events to mobilewritersguild@gmail.com so we can share your milestones with the community.

Where to find us:

www.mobilewritersguild.com
www.facebook.com/pages/Mobile-Writers-Guild/132422949536?ref=hnav
On Twitter: @MobileWriters
Email: mobilewritersguild@gmail.com

Remember that comments, suggestions, and questions are welcome—both online and at the meetings. Thanks for your continued support!

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MARCH NEWSLETTER

NEWS BANNER

The Write Stuff
The Official Newsletter of Mobile Writers Guild
March 4, 2014
Volume 4 Issue 9

From the President:

Okay, yeah, don’t expect much coherence from me–we’re just pulling out of the tailspin that is Mardi Gras. So just know I’m rooting for you on your writing! And if there’s still time to complete your monthly goal for Thursday–go you!

-Angela Trigg w/a Angela Quarles
2013-2014 MWG President

Upcoming Events/Opportunities:

Our next monthly meeting is this THURSDAY, March 6th, in the first floor meeting room of the West Regional Library from 6-7:30pm. We will be holding Perfecting Your Query Letter + Submission Strategies. Angela Quarles will lead the presentation and will go over what makes a good query letter, where to find help, as well as submission strategies. We will also critique three members queries.

Are you a writer? A poet? Sense wants to hear from you! Sense, a local magazine, welcomes short fiction, essays, humor and poetry submissions. Submit your edgy, eclectic work to editor@thesenseofitall.com and it could be published in the next issue of Sense!

On March 15, 2014, the Metro Mobile Reading Council will have their first Teen Writing Fair and Workshop at the West Regional Branch Library. Students will get to meet published authors, and to talk with people who make their living from writing for newspapers, magazines, websites, and as published authors. Students will participate in writing activities and discussions. Refreshments will be served. The first edition of the Mobile Teen Literary Magazine will also be unveiled at this program. All students in Mobile and Baldwin County in grades 7-12 as of the 2013-2014 school year are eligible to submit writing for this inaugural magazine. Submissions for the magazine might include poetry, essays, short stories, digital photography, and drawings. All photography will be printed in black and white and will be used to illustrate other students’ published submissions. The deadline for submissions is Monday, February 17, 2014. For more info, contact asloke@mcpss.com, shclinton@gmail.com, or gillespiee@gmail.com

Springmingle is March 28-30, 2014! This is the annual spring conference of the Southern Breeze region of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (Alabama, Georgia, and the Florida panhandle), with workshops and sessions with agents, authors, and editors. It’s a great opportunity for writers and illustrators to learn the skills they need to get published, as well as network with other writers, illustrators, and industry professions. Highlights of this year’s conference include a one-day writing intensive workshop on plotting, led by editor Cheryl Klein, and Agent One-on-One opportunities with literary agent Ammi-Joam Paquette. Other faculty include Lucy Ruth Cummins, Art Director Simon & Schuster; Cheryl Willis Hudson, Creative Director Just Us Books; Ruth Sanderson, Author/Illustrator; Agent, and Jo Kittinger, Award-Winning Author.
When: March 28-30, 2014
Where: The Atlanta Marriott Century Center in the Atlanta area
Details: southern-breeze.scbwi.org.

abfThe Alabama Book Festival (ABF) seeks volunteers for this year’s event. The Festival will take place on Saturday, April 19, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at Old Alabama Town in downtown Montgomery. Volunteers are needed throughout the day. ABF 2014 will showcase approximately sixty authors and presenters, including nationally recognized writers, book artists, printers, publishers, book sellers, and performers. As always, the Book Fest will feature books about history, music, and other nonfiction sujects. It will also showcase fiction, poetry, children’s books, and other genres. The theme for 2014 is The Year of Alabama Parks. For more information, contact Robby Cole, Volunteer Coordinator, Alabama Book Festival at 667-777-2793 or alabamabookfestival@gmail.com. Website: http://www.alabamabookfestival.org/welcome.html

Member News:

Continue to send in your writing news and author events to mobilewritersguild@gmail.com so we can share your milestones with the community.

Where to find us:

www.mobilewritersguild.com
www.facebook.com/pages/Mobile-Writers-Guild/132422949536?ref=hnav
On Twitter: @MobileWriters
Email: mobilewritersguild@gmail.com

Remember that comments, suggestions, and questions are welcome—both online and at the meetings. Thanks for your continued support!

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FEBRUARY NEWSLETTER

NEWS BANNER

The Write Stuff
The Official Newsletter of Mobile Writers Guild
February 4, 2013
Volume 4 Issue 8

From the President:

It’s that time of the month! How did everyone fare during Storm Leon? Unable to go to work for 2 1/2 days, I got some revising done! Is everyone on track with their monthly goals? I’d been in a kind of a slump lately (okay since October, jeesh) and the longer I put off picking this manuscript up, the more overwhelming it became. Finally, I just decided to take it one hour at a time, and even though I was revising, not writing, I jumped onto twitter and did a #1k1hr sprint with another writer. I can’t tell you how much just sitting down, no excuses, and doing what I could for a given period of time helped me get out of my slump. One hour turned to three, and then I’ve been back in the groove since. So if you find that your enthusiasm has died a slow and painful death in the face of the amount of revising you have to do, just take a step back and take it one time-chunk at a time.

-Angela Trigg w/a Angela Quarles
2013-2014 MWG President

Upcoming Events/Opportunities:

Our next monthly meeting is this THURSDAY, February 6th, in the first floor meeting room of the West Regional Library from 6-7:30pm. We will be doing our popular Speed Critique session. For those wishing to participate, bring one (1) page printed, Times New Roman, 12 pt, double-spaced with 1-inch margins of your WIP and we will set the room up like speed dating. Except in this scenario, you will exchange your page with your partner and you’ll have five minutes to read each other’s page and give constructive feedback! When the timer’s up, you’ll switch partners! It’s a great way to see if the mood and tone is coming across like you hoped, or if it grabs a reader enough.

Are you a writer? A poet? Sense wants to hear from you! Sense, a local magazine, welcomes short fiction, essays, humor and poetry submissions. Submit your edgy, eclectic work to editor@thesenseofitall.com and it could be published in the next issue of Sense!

LilliAnne Long will have a signing for her book Waystations at Barnes and Noble on Feb 8.

The next meeting of the Baldwin Writer’s Guild is Saturday, February 15th, at the Daphne Public Library (10 a.m. till 12 noon). Their speaker will be MWG’s own Joyce Scarbrough. “In keeping with Valentine’s Day, try and wear something red. Red is not only a power color but a passionate color as well. Come and enjoy the fellowship of fellow writers and good food. And maybe a few surprises. I hear the results of Cupid’s arrows will be evident that day in our writing. It’s a given that his aim is sometimes erratic and unpredictable, so you never know where his arrows will land or who they will hit.”

Class opportunity–Creative Writing: Introduction to Fiction. In this class you will learn to weave together character, plot, point of view, voice, scenes, settings, narrative and dialogue. For registration and additional information contact: Instructor: Mahala Church – 251-287-2728. Class date:  February 14 – March 7 (Fridays) Time: 9-11 a.m.
Duration: 4 weeks Location: Fairhope United Methodist Church Price: $36.00

On March 15, 2014, the Metro Mobile Reading Council will have their first Teen Writing Fair and Workshop at the West Regional Branch Library. Students will get to meet published authors, and to talk with people who make their living from writing for newspapers, magazines, websites, and as published authors. Students will participate in writing activities and discussions. Refreshments will be served. The first edition of the Mobile Teen Literary Magazine will also be unveiled at this program. All students in Mobile and Baldwin County in grades 7-12 as of the 2013-2014 school year are eligible to submit writing for this inaugural magazine. Submissions for the magazine might include poetry, essays, short stories, digital photography, and drawings. All photography will be printed in black and white and will be used to illustrate other students’ published submissions. The deadline for submissions is Monday, February 17, 2014. For more info, contact asloke@mcpss.com, shclinton@gmail.com, or gillespiee@gmail.com

Springmingle is March 28-30, 2014! This is the annual spring conference of the Southern Breeze region of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (Alabama, Georgia, and the Florida panhandle), with workshops and sessions with agents, authors, and editors. It’s a great opportunity for writers and illustrators to learn the skills they need to get published, as well as network with other writers, illustrators, and industry professions. Highlights of this year’s conference include a one-day writing intensive workshop on plotting, led by editor Cheryl Klein, and Agent One-on-One opportunities with literary agent Ammi-Joam Paquette. Other faculty include Lucy Ruth Cummins, Art Director Simon & Schuster; Cheryl Willis Hudson, Creative Director Just Us Books; Ruth Sanderson, Author/Illustrator; Agent, and Jo Kittinger, Award-Winning Author.
When: March 28-30, 2014
Where: The Atlanta Marriott Century Center in the Atlanta area
Details: southern-breeze.scbwi.org.

Member News:

Marilyn (cj) and Mahala Church are organizing their 2014 calendar for their blog, Lyrical Pens, and would be pleased if you would write a piece for them in the new year. Guest posts give you the opportunity to showcase your talent and pitch your latest project while driving traffic to your publications as well as your own website and blog. We will be happy to include your picture, bio, and a picture(s) of your book. Reach out to Mahala for more information: mahalachurch@gmail.com

Continue to send in your writing news and author events to mobilewritersguild@gmail.com so we can share your milestones with the community.

Where to find us:

www.mobilewritersguild.com
www.facebook.com/pages/Mobile-Writers-Guild/132422949536?ref=hnav
On Twitter: @MobileWriters
Email: mobilewritersguild@gmail.com

Remember that comments, suggestions, and questions are welcome—both online and at the meetings. Thanks for your continued support!

Posted in Monthly Newsletter | Leave a comment

JANUARY NEWSLETTER

NEWS BANNER

The Write Stuff
The Official Newsletter of Mobile Writers Guild
December 31, 2013
Volume 4 Issue 7

From the President:

Happy New Year (almost)! I hope everyone has survived the holiday with their sanity intact, if not their waistline! As we start the new year, think about all you’ve accomplished in this past year in your writing and give yourself recognition for it. This is what you enjoy, what you want to do, and you worked hard to incorporate it into your busy life. Also, look forward and make some tangible goals for this new year that you have control over and can accomplish. In addition to goals, see if there’s an aspect of your writing life in general that you’d like to improve upon and take the steps to see it through, whether it’s waking up a half hour earlier to get in some writing, or putting in more effort in branding your author profile in social media. Let’s blow this new year out of the water, everyone!

-Angela Trigg w/a Angela Quarles
2013-2014 MWG President

Upcoming Events/Opportunities:

Our next monthly meeting is this THURSDAY, January 2nd, in the first floor meeting room of the West Regional Library from 6-7:30pm. Our Guest Speaker will be Patrick Haggerty. He will be presenting “Introduction to Scrivener.” Learn about this effective writing tool and ditch your Word processing software for good! Scrivener can be difficult for beginners to dive into, so Mr. Haggerty will show us how to get started and share tips. Scrivener has a free trial download if you’d like to take a preview before the class so you can come armed with questions: http://www.literatureandlatte.com/index.php. Patrick Haggerty is the President of the Gulf Coast Chapter of Romance Writers of America.

Are you a writer? A poet? Sense wants to hear from you! Sense, a local magazine, welcomes short fiction, essays, humor and poetry submissions. Submit your edgy, eclectic work to editor@thesenseofitall.com and it could be published in the next issue of Sense!

For an upcoming project, State of the Re:Union is partnering with the multimedia platform Cowbird and the interactive documentary Hollow to explore rural America. More Americans are leaving rural areas for cities, but behind that movement, there’s a whole collection of individual experiences. “We want to gather those stories: of people who left their hometowns, but also of people who have stayed or returned. To do this, we’re inviting people across the country to share their stories through writing, images, or sound–or all three. We’ll collect these stories on Cowbird’s website. Cowbird is designed for anyone to join and participate: it’s easy to upload images, text, and sound. For those who don’t have access to online platforms, we have other options for submitting stories. This isn’t a huge commitment. Written stories are short: just 50-250 words. We’re asking you to choose one of these prompts: What’s THE ONE THING about your town… that made you stay? That made you leave? That made you… return? Through the diverse stories of people in America’s hollers, backwoods, and ranches, we hope to paint a larger picture. Participants could find their town featured in SOTRU’s 2014 season. This project is officially launching in January. But before then, we’re reaching out to a few people to get it rolling. We think you might be able to help us.” For more information, go to NPR’s State of the Re:Union website: http://stateofthereunion.com

Member News:

Continue to send in your writing news and author events to mobilewritersguild@gmail.com so we can share your milestones with the community.

 

Where to find us:

www.mobilewritersguild.com
www.facebook.com/pages/Mobile-Writers-Guild/132422949536?ref=hnav
On Twitter: @MobileWriters
Email: mobilewritersguild@gmail.com

Remember that comments, suggestions, and questions are welcome—both online and at the meetings. Thanks for your continued support!

Posted in Monthly Newsletter | Leave a comment