Not Quite a Story-a-Day

Apparently May 1st marked the start of the Story-a-Day challenge. Which I found out about a day or two before May. I was tempted to join in the fun, but Chad reminded me that I need to keep focused on the novel I’m working on. Writing thirty-one different short stories is guaranteed to get my imagination going, but it’s also likely to yank my mind firmly out of early 20th Century Russia where it belongs right now.

Still, I wanted to do something.

Long ago in the time that was late last year, someone on Twitter mentioned a challenge she was undertaking to write 90 words a day for 90 days. And I thought, “Hey, I could do that. Ninety words is, what, five minutes? Even if I’m tied up with editing or working on an RPG project, I can find five minutes a day. And it’d be a great way to keep writer’s block at bay.” So I added “Write 90 words a day” to my 2010 New Year’s Resolutions, except that because I like round numbers I actually made it “Write 100 words a day.” Open-ended deadline because I didn’t intend to stop. And I figured I’d post the pieces here, in part so folks could read them and in part to keep a fire lit under me to write them.

One thing led to another and not only did I not get those 100-word snippets posted here, but I also had to stop writing them to focus on regular writing projects. But in the back of my mind, I still planned to polish those scribbles and post them here, some day. So when I read about the Story-a-Day challenge — and quickly realized I couldn’t participate if I wanted to make my current self-imposed book deadline — I thought, “Hey, I could post those 100-word pieces!” Even though it doesn’t technically fit the rules of the challenge, it seemed a good compromise to me. After all, they’re still rough drafts, so I’ll have to revise them before I post them. And sometimes revising a piece is harder than writing it in the first place.

So, without further ado, the first of the 100-word stories:

The strawberry nestled between a pomegranate and a cluster of cranberries, the shades of red blending in their subtleness. The Erlington witch owed her fame to that kind of thing, an attention to detail that made her charms more than functional. “Works of arcane art,” the Lifestyles section of the Erlington Daily Times called them. “You’ll be tempted to keep them for yourself — even the volatile ones.”

The witch smiled as she remembered the review. She had sent the paper’s critic a safety talisman by way of thanks, an Alajuela toad carved from amber and spotted with bronze. The critic wasn’t always so gracious in his reviews, and death threats weren’t uncommon. Even the Erlington witch herself had made one or two. All in the past, of course. They’d reached an accord, she and the reviewer, and the critic promised to be nothing but complimentary of her work from now on.

Still, the witch had crafted the critic’s talisman with a weakness, a flaw only she knew how to exploit. And to keep the reviewer honest, the witch had told him about it.

Which is why the constabulary came knocking on the Erlington witch’s door when someone killed the critic, leaving the amber talisman cracked into three irregular pieces and embedded in the hardwood floor.

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