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Celebrate!

October 21, 2021-I love all of the photo prompts we’ve selected this month, but this particular prompts speak to me for some reason! I love the colour and style. You can almost hear the chatter going on around the table; whether it’s family or friends, it’s a gathering of individual personalities connected by common threads- food, wine, and conversation.

For today’s assignment, here are the instructions:

Write a 2500 word short story about a dinner party among friends. Write it in the third person narrative and choose an exotic location.  Let your imagination run wild, whether it’s a winery in the south of  France, a garden terrace in Italy, or a stunning backdrop in the Alps! If you’ve never been to the location you’re writing about, do some research to see what it would be like to visit.

Happy writing! As always, if you’d like to join any of our classes, workshops, or courses, they’re available here: Virtual Courses, Classes, and Workshops – Pandamonium Publishing House

 

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Photo Writing Prompt Featured Author

February 12, 2021– Last week we did a photo writing prompt and received over thirty submissions from authors locally and abroad. There was one that stood out from the crowd. I was blown away by this when I read it, and in parts, it took my breath away! This is titled Breaking Free of the Past by our very own Tonya Cartmell. To check out her book (illustrated by Emily James), The Twelve Days of Rescue, click here: The Twelve Days of Rescue: Cartmell, Tonya, James, Emily: 9781989506219: Books – Amazon.ca

Breaking Free of the Past by Tonya Cartmell

“Stop whining.  Sit Down. Shut up and type.”  The words ran like ice water down her spine, chilling her to her core. Reluctantly, she slid down hoping to melt into the chair.  Running her long fingers over the dusty, old, worn, round typewriter keys, she let her mind drift back to happier times.  There were long periods where she loved to sit in this small attic room she had converted to an office.  Her grandmother had helped her set it up with an old antique desk, chair, lamp and of course this typewriter that she knew today, would bring her death. She glanced into the cold, hard, steel blue eyes and whispered, “Why do I listen to you?”

“What was that?  Why are you fighting so hard against the inevitable?  You always knew how your story would end.  You used to plan for it; sitting alone in the dark feeling sorry for yourself when life got hard.  It is time.  Your novel is done and what better way to instant fame then to leave your fans wanting more when you won’t be here to give it to them.  This letter will become the prelude to your life’s work.  People will remember you.  You should be happy and thanking me, not questioning me now when you are at the finish line.  We had a deal.  Finish it.”

She slowly slid open the desk drawer.  It moved quietly and smoothly from centuries of use.  Reaching in she pulled out a single sheet of paper and slowly fed it into the typewriter roller; turning until the paper reached typing height.  She turned on the single bulb lamp near the right edge of the desk, not for the light it offered but for the comfort the warm glow provided. A single tear slid down her cheek as she looked at her fingers resting on the keys.  Nails that were once long and covered with bubble gum pink polish, now sat bitten and bleeding from the stress of the last few months. She shook her head gently from side to side, her long dark hair brushing across her back as she tried to clear her head.  She had tried her best to fight but now realized nothing she did would lead to her coming out the winner in this situation.  Resigned to the fact there was nothing else she could do; she began to type.

Breaking Free of the Past, has been a labour of love and exploration of the depths of my sadness.  Like many of you who read this book, my life has never been easy.  It has been filled with struggles, adversary and pain intermixed with some joy, laughter, and moments filled with love. The decisions I have made may not have won the popular vote and I’m sure many people would not always understand them, but they were my decisions and I stand by them.  My moto has always been that is ok to make mistakes if you learn from them and move on.

There is one decision that almost broke me.  One that took all my strength and energy to crawl my way back from.  Perhaps, I never fully made it out of the black void it left behind in my life.  The decision I made to stay behind on that snowy day while they went out.  Safe and warm at home waving goodbye from the window as they climbed into the car.  My husband was annoyed I wouldn’t join them.  Did his anger lead to the death of my family on that slippery road?  Was he distracted?  This is the one event that I truly need to break free from. Yet as I sit at my old desk, in the office of my youth, writing this preface on the typewriting I used before I was married; I realize that I will never be free of the past. I have prayed for forgiveness.  I have begged for it.  I thought I had found peace, but the nightmares have returned and are dragging me down again.  There is a constant reminder that I failed; that the empty hole my family used to fill is my fault.  That the silence will never again be filled with laughter.  That love will never warm my heart again. My despair runs deep, and I have never felt so alone.  I hope reader, that you never experience this pain, loss, sadness and numbness.  Please seek help before you reach this point.  I hope you find the light in the dark that I lost.  Learn from me.

She finished typing and hung her head as her tears flowed.  When they had subsided, she wiped her face with her sleeve then reached into her bag and pulled her manuscript.  The envelope was already addressed to her publisher.  She used the return bar to remove the paper from the typewriter.  Each ding pierced the quiet in the darkening room. She added it to the top of the pile of pages and then sealed the envelope.  She set it off to the side of the desk under the lamp.

“Finally, you are done.  One last hurdle to get over and then everything will be completed.  You won’t feel sadness anymore.”

“I don’t want to”, she said quietly refusing to look up.

“It is your obligation.  You should have been in the car with them.  Maybe if you had gone, he wouldn’t have been driving so quickly.  Maybe you could have asked him to slow down or told him to watch out for that curve. If you were there, your daughter might be downstairs laughing instead of sitting on the mantel in a metal urn.  You know what you need to do.”

She looked over at the firearm on the desk.  Almost surprised to see it sitting there.  She didn’t remember bringing it here or putting it on the desk.  The black matte finish of the Glock 9mm handgun made it almost disappear in the fading light.  Only one round sat on the desk beside the empty magazine.  Her husband had taught her how to safely handle and fire the gun.  She loaded the single round into the magazine before slamming it into the receiver.  Then drew back the slide to chamber the round.  With her shaking hand, she placed it back on the desk.

“What are you doing?  This is the last step.  You must do this.  Pick it up.  Join them.”

She took a deep breath and raised her head.  Starring deep into those eyes that haunted her for years.  She was so tired of fighting.  Tired of pushing every day to just get out of bed.  To try and find something to live for.  She looked down at the locket on her chest.  Inside was a picture of her husband and daughter.  She finally realized it was time to let go.  They would not want her to live this tortured life.

She picked up the gun and fired without hesitation.  The sound was deafening, and the smell of gunpowder filled the air.  The mirror above the typewriter shattered.  The voice in her head was finally silenced.  She placed the gun back on the desk.  Tomorrow would be another day.

Thank you, Tonya for this moving and heart wrenching story! You are a very talented writer and we are so proud to know you. X LLB

 

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Stretch Yourself

February 5, 2021– Today we’ll be doing an exercise that is going to stretch your writing muscle! I love posing these types of challenges to my writers because it’s not only fun, but it helps them grow as authors. Sometimes we get stuck in a rut and we find ourselves coming up with stagnant ideas for plots and character development. This is a great tool!

Photo writing challenge: Using the photo above, please write a 1200-word short story. Ensure that you have 1 character, 2 conflicts/challenges, and wrap it all up with a bow. This sounds really difficult to do, but I know that it’s possible! Plus, if you send your submission to pandapublishing8@gmail.com, you will get the chance to have your story featured on our blog in a future post! Also, if you want some guidelines on what publishers are looking for, check out my number 1, best selling book, here: Advice From a Publisher (Insider Secrets for Getting Your Work Published!) An Amazon Best Seller – Pandamonium Publishing House

 

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Girl in the Red Coat

December 15, 2020– A few weeks back we posted a writing prompt of a little girl in the snow with a pair of skates draped over her shoulder. We asked our readers to submit their work for the chance to be featured on our blog. Check out K.G. Watson’s story, Girl in the Red Coat below:

“Hey!  Girl in the red coat.” The call rang across the snow. She’d been spotted.  She walked on pretending not to hear.  Another call. “Please don’t go.  We need another player.” She turned to see who, in the group, had called.  It sounded like another girl but everyone was in hockey gear, skating circles and passing a puck on the newly-frozen pond.   The caller was short, like herself.  “I see your skates and you were watching us.  Can you come and play three-on-three?”  The speaker hopped the snowbank and walked up the bank as she spoke. “These are figure skates,” she said as the other girl got close.   She nudged them with resignation. “I see that.  They’ll do.  You were watching us for a while.  You are coming from a lesson?” “Yep.” “Can you skate backwards?” “Of course.” The girl in red replied indignantly.  Her cold hands holding skate laces under her velvet collar slid into her pockets.  Mittens should have been there.  They were home, clipped to the hot air register. The hockey girl noticed.  “I have a pair of mine inside hockey gloves, and a spare stick and helmet.”  She nodded towards bags at the log where the kids had been lacing their skates. “I’ve always wanted to try hockey besides in the driveway when my brother is out.  Mom says it’s a boy’s game.   And I’m too small.  I have to take figure skating.”  She watched the others.  “Poor skaters,” she decided. “Well …  Can you stay?” “Mom dropped me and I took the bus home.  I live over there.”  She nodded at the mansion on the edge of the park as she checked her phone.  “She took my brother to his hockey game.  He won’t be home for half an hour.” As they walked down the bank, her hockey hostess explained how she could start easily.  “You can play defence. We have no goalie, just two forwards and a defence.”  She pointed to the piles of snow that marked off the goalposts.   “If you can skate backwards, stay just to the centre side of anyone coming at you.  They’ll cut outside along the boards.  Just back up, keep in place and angle them into the snow.  When they fall, shoot the puck to a forward.” The others turned to welcome her; ponytails and stray ends peaked from under helmets; they were all girls.  She appreciated the warmth of the woollen gloves lining the padded hockey ones that were set beside her while she laced up.  She hefted the battered hockey stick.  “Same as my brother’s,” she decided and glided into position.  The other team was bringing the puck up from their end. Her greeter met the attack early but was late with a stab to free the puck.  It shot to the other forward who cut inside theirs for the pass and was under-speed as she crossed centre ice, bearing down on the girl in the red dress coat.    Red stepped to the attacker’s right leaving an opening on her left. The forward took the bait.  But she hadn’t expected the quick response.   With a little more speed, she’d get around the guard.  A couple fast strides.  The girl in red remained, preventing a shot on goal.    She made one more spurt and ran out of ice at top speed; the puck slid free and … The girl in red stopped. “Are you OK?”  The other girl was struggling up in a cloud of snow.  “Never had that happen. Where did you learn that?” “What?” “You really deked me out.  I was sure I could get around you. You let me commit and then moved me over like my dad’s dog herds sheep. The next try was unsuccessful too.  The attacker stopped short but the girl in red poked the puck free and flipped it over the teammate’s stick to her own forward who sent a long lead pass to their player racing around their defence to score. She was complimented on the lift she put on the puck to get it past the opposition.  “You handle a stick well.  This isn’t your first time.” “My brother plays,” was all that Red said.  As the sky slowly darkened, the girl in red learned stick tricks to block passes or poke checks.  The streetlights were on when a van pulled into a parking place. “That’s my Dad.  We have to go.” The girl in red looked at her watch,”. “Oh-oh.  I’m late.”  When she realized she still wore a borrowed helmet it was hard to find her red hat in the snow at the end of the log. “Maybe we can do this again,” the hockey player said.  “What’s your name?” Laura,” said the figure skater.  “What’s yours?” “Haley,” she said.

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Dear Fall

October 1, 2020- A few weeks back, we had posted a photo writing prompt on our blog asking readers to send in a 500-word short story, poem, or journal entry about what Autumn means to them. Here is the entry we’ve chosen, written by Kinga Ulazka McDonald:

Dear Fall,
 
The cooler weather means a lot of things for me. The colour means pumpkins and the excitement I feel while decorating those round vegetables with not just flowers, but with different colours. Those pumpkins mean plaid, flavoured coffees, and hats to cover messy hair from early dark skies. Saturdays in October mean multiply blanket covers, golden colours and scary spooks. 
 
Going out may be chilly, but staying in is scary. Horror classics run through my mind with ideas of death, fright and uncertainty. Fall is cold and during normal times, not optimistic. These are not normal times, but the times happening now is bottled Fall: cold, darkened, unknowing, and involves the intention of dying with a promise of regrowth. Fall is these times and what comes next is scarier and unpredictable. 
 
With Fall also comes the joy of Halloween; the fear, the feel and the darkness of all those that still creep, wander and that are still here. 
 
The colours are warm, yet do not bring smiles during sunset. 
 
Fall, for me, is particularly ideal. The struggle with body image becomes less pressured since layers are added. Covering up makes me feel at ease, and somehow lessens the unwanted stares from exposure in dresses. 
 
It sounds unnecessary, but it runs through many minds. Words on dusted pages help with the darkness that creeps up every night. 
 
The workhorse kicks itself into overtime, while seasonal depression comes unwelcomed into the night with uneasiness and sometimes distress. 
 
Fall, you are both inspiring because of the idea of new light, but you are scary at the same time because of the death you bring. This year seems especially grim and not hopeful. 
 
Fall, please be kind, please do not bring the second wave and please continue with the pumpkins, the floral opportunities and the fear of horror classics. 
 
Fall, welcome the great pumpkin, welcome the idea of new, but do not forget about your traditions, and why we do not need any new ones. 
Thank you, Kinga, for this beautiful glimpse of Autumn.
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Photo Writing Prompt…

October 21, 2019– I really love this photo prompt; it’s haunting and beautiful and immediately gets my creative brain pumping with ideas and directions I could take. The mission of the photo writing prompt is to write a short story (500 words or less) or a poem about the photo below. If you would like to submit your work, I’d love to read it, send me an email pandapublishing8@gmail.com and remember that I never open attachments. I’ll post my own short story based on the photo in an upcoming blog post…maybe on Halloween:) so stay tuned for my take on the image.

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We Have a Winner…

June 6, 2019– As mentioned a week or so ago, we had a photo writing-prompt challenge for the chance to have your story featured on our blog; congratulations to Tonya C. for her story! Check out what she’s written below:

Isobel hummed as she surveyed ground zero and scanned the field full of yellow bio-hazard barrels left to rot for countless years.  Twisted, human-made, poisonous flowers oozed their diseased contents into the ground; smoke billowed up in thick, dark clouds from the incinerator chimneys and sent shivers down her spine.  Isobel knew they were burning bodies.  The army claimed everything was contained in the quarantined zone.  Those who were outside of the zone felt safe but were unaware that the borders continued to slowly increase outward.

Hot and uncomfortable in the heavy white hazmat suit, she reached a gloved hand down and gently patted the black Labrador that stood beside her; he pressed against her a moment before he resumed a high alert stance.  She saw his eyes track movement in the distance. She whispered, “Steady Ranger,” and prevented the dog from darting off and drawing the soldiers’ attention.

Months earlier, inside the facility, Isobel worked on finding an antidote to the virus. Her husband and son had been dragged in by the military who were desperate to know why some people were immune to the deadly virus. They rounded up people from inside of the quarantined zone where doctors treated them like lab rats; they performed tests, took endless tubes of blood, and deprived them of food and sleep to force them to cooperate.  Those that refused to cooperate were taken outside and shot and their bodies were thrown into the incinerator. 

Isobel was cut off from the outside world; she had no idea that her husband and son were inside the facility and by the time she found out, it was too late. An alarm sounded when suddenly her husband burst into her office. In his panic to escape, he slammed her against the wall but stopped when he heard her cry out in pain and fear.  He turned to face her and whispered, “It’s the well.  I tried to save him!”  Soldiers burst through the door with their guns drawn.  She screamed as they opened fire on the man she loved.  Shots rang in her ears and in the madness, she realized her husband had told her that the virus originated in the town well and that her son was in the building.  She searched for him until she finally found him in a heap of discarded, decaying children.  His lifeless, milky eyes stared blankly up at her. She knew that she must have revenge. She bottled up her grief and rage that burned brightly in her chest. Today was the day it would be released.

Ranger gave a low whimper as the light flashed in the distance. It signalled a message from the others.  The well water had been deposited into the army base cistern with the codes Isobel had slipped them.  In less than a week all in the base would be dead.

The virus had leeched from the barrels into the town water supply over many years. Like the others who grew up drinking from the local well, Isobel was immune to the virus.  As darkness fell, she slipped out from the unneeded protection. Finally free, she and Ranger jogged into the bush to join the group.

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Photo Writing Prompt…

March 22, 2019- It’s been a while since we’ve done a photo writing prompt. I’m especially in love with the photo that we’ll be creating a story for today; it’s simplistic yet very powerful. Happy writing! X LLB

 

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(It’s Been A While) Photo Writing Prompt…

January 9, 2018- We haven’t done one of these for a long time and we’re way overdue to have some fun; I love photo writing prompts! They certainly help me break out of writing ruts when the ideas just aren’t flowing. The picture prompt below has unlimited opportunities to write about; this photo can break into multiple genres. Your imagination is the only limit! Have fun with this and happy writing. X LLB

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Writing Prompt of the Day

December 11, 2017- I love to start Monday mornings by drinking coffee and writing things that are outside of what I’m currently working on. I think that writing prompts are important for expanding ourselves as writers and that reading and writing things that are outside of our genres is essential for growth. Today we have a picture that I love because it’s so refreshing. The premise of this exercise is to write a couple of pages, a paragraph, or whatever length you want, about said picture, and today’s particular image can have so many themes! My head is spinning with ideas already:)  Happy writing!

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