Thursday, January 16, 2014

Chat Pack Challenge 15 – You Scream, I Scream, We All Scream For Ice Cream!

Today’s question: What do you think is the best flavor of ice cream ever created?
You Scream, I Scream, We All Scream For Ice Cream!

Vanilla. With chocolate and caramel syrup. Or strawberry syrup. Or put some hot fudge on that baby, and I’m yours.

Cookies and cream, chocolate chip – cookie dough, yum! A twist cone, caramel swirl or strawberry.

Can we count orange sherbet as a kind of ice cream? I think I’m going to list it here anyway.
I'm not a big fan of rocky road, but there's this thing the ice cream shop near where I grew up makes called an avalanche.
That's pretty much heaven in an ice cream shape.

But I’m always on the hunt for the perfect chocolate malt. I have a recipe that includes peanut butter. Someday I'll maybe share the recipe here.

Quick, wipe that drool before it gets on your keyboard! Now, go out and get yourself some ice cream!

What’s your favorite kind of ice cream? Leave a comment below!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Chat Pack Challenge 14 – Go The Distance

Today’s question: What is the longest distance you’ve ever walked in a single day?

You know I couldn’t resist getting a good zombie apocalypse story in here sometime during the month. :)

Go The Distance

Mid-afternoon, the sun bearing down and I was about out of water. Nothing but desolation lay ahead of me, as far as the eye could see. I’d already walked far, so far… and I had a long ways yet to go.

“Chase back the demons!” I shook my head to chase back the words, but just as we’d failed in driving away the demons, so the words bore down upon me.

“Don’t let them in!”

The battle of Northberg had been twenty-four hours ago. Had it really been only that long? It felt more like a lifetime. A day ago the monsters encircled our walls, the last fortified city this side of the divide. When they mounted the attack against the concrete and brick that had kept us safe for so long, we thought we were safe.

How wrong we’d been.

Now my captain’s words kept echoing over in my head, “Don’t let them in! Keep back the demons! We’ll be all lost if they do get in! Kill them all!”

But they had broken through.
And all hell broke loose when they did.

Because, how did you kill something that was already dead?

Twenty-four hours ago, that was a question we lost the battle trying to answer.

The monsters had overtaken our city a day ago and I had been walking ever since. I was the lone survivor of the attack. At least, I hadn’t seen another living being – I wasn’t counting the vultures circling overhead – since my escape.

I was making an assumption, of course, however grim an assumption it was.
All that was left now was to walk on. I had to go the distance and find another city of survivors soon.
The lack of water wasn't the thing that would end up killing me out here.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Chat Pack Challenge 13 – The Most Comfortable Shirt in the World

Today’s question: What is the most comfortable article of clothing you’ve ever owned? The most meaningful?

The Most Comfortable Shirt in the World

Okay, so this is going to sound really crazy, but I once had a shirt when I was a kid that I loved so much, when it got too wore out to wear it any more, I actually had my mom turn it into a pillow case.

Please don’t laugh, I’m serious.

I have no idea what kind of material it is and that makes me sad because someday it will be too wore out to be even a pillow case and then I won’t be able to replace it. The fabric is really, really soft and stays cool all the time – which is a major thing for me and pillows. They have to be cool to the touch or it’s a no-go-to-sleep. That’s a rule. For me anyhow.

So, when it was no longer appropriate to wear the shirt any more, my mom took it, squared up the neck and shoulders, cut off the sleeves and sewed them on the inside.

If you were to look at it for the first time, you would never know that it had once been the most comfortable item of clothing in my wardrobe.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Chat Pack Challenge 12 – Sister

Today’s Question: What is the longest-lasting friendship you’ve ever had?


The longest lasting friendship I have is with my sister, Alexis. She’s just sixteen months younger than me so she is literally the best friend I’ve had for the longest time.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Chat Pack Challenge 11 – I Just Wanted Some Ice Cream

Today’s question: What is the worst customer service you’ve ever experienced?

When I started this challenge, I did say it didn’t matter how much I wrote, as long as it was at least something each day. So, here you go.
I Just Wanted Some Ice Cream

I was ignored.

No, like really. They had a special – advertised in the newspaper and everything – that if you stopped out and donated money to their selected cause they’d give you a free ice cream cone.

I was stopping out for supper at the fast food joint and thought an ice cream cone would make a delicious desert.

Chat Pack Challenge 10 –Answered Prayers

Today’s question: What is the clearest answer to prayer that you’ve ever received? 
Answered Prayers

Before storming out of the room to throw myself on my bed for a good cry, I tossed my hands in the air in defeat and shouted at my mom, “Just sign me up for veterinary school!”

My frustration was in no way directed at my mother nor was it her fault. It was simply the result of an ongoing conversation about what I would do with the rest of my life when I had not a clue. I was a senior and high school and still hadn’t decided if or for what I would go to college. I knew I was overwhelmingly ignorant about the outside world – having been raised on a farm and homeschooled, hardly ever going in to town or having relatively few friends – and the statement I’d just shouted was proof of that. As far as I knew, college – a degree in something, anything – was my only ticket on to bigger things.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Chat Pack Challenge 9 – Game Night Monopoly

Today’s question: What is your all-time favorite board game?

Game Night Monopoly

The Miller family was all gathering around the kitchen table. Dad was bringing the box of games from out of the front closet.

“What game do we want to play tonight?”  he asked.

Little Billy burst out, “Monopoly!”

Sally, his older sister by exactly three years and two months, rolled her eye and crossed her arms. “Nu-uh! Let’s play Clue!”

Little Billy shouted back through clenched teeth, “No! We’re playing Monopoly because that’s my favorite game of all time.”

“You can’t even count yet. You always have to have someone help you,” Sally retorted.

“I was thinking of Yahtzee,” their mom began to say.

“No!” the siblings shouted in unison.

Dad sighed. “Here we go again.”

“Well, tell him we should play Clue!”

“Tell her we are gonna play Monopoly!”

“There’s always Battleship,” Mom suggested.

“No!” the siblings shouted together then went back to arguing with each other.
Dad propped his elbow on the table and rested his chin in his hand. "We should have just had a movie night instead," he mumbled to Mom. She nodded her agreement.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Chat Pack Challenge 8 – $1,000,000

Today’s question: Besides a new house or a new vehicle, what is the single most expensive purchase you would make if you won a million dollars tomorrow?

Okay, I couldn’t resist doing this with this story. Enjoy!
(Play the video as you read the story)

“If I had a million dollars, if I had a million dollars! If I had a million dollars… I’d be rich.”

The song faded and left Christian to his thoughts for a moment. He sat in a dusty arm chair in his cramped living room.

The 98-year-old man didn’t think winning a million dollars in the lottery had changed him. In some ways he was still the same guy who’d scratched down some random numbers on a lottery ticket once. He still lived in his two bedroom home at the end of the block and still had that new car, a 1994 Oldsmobile Royal. Two decades old now and he couldn’t really drive any more on account of his fading eye sight. That and the kids having taken his keys away from him…

Someone cleared their throat and Christian jerked. He’d begun to fade off to sleep, but the sound brought him back. He looked up. The guys in the band stood looking at him. It was a bit of a tight space, here in his house, but the band had managed to get all their equipment in here.

Christian just smiled at the Barenaked Ladies and said in a raspy, aged voice, “Again.”

As the music picked up and the lead singer stepped up to the mic, Christian laughed at the very thought. He had the band on a million dollar contract to play whenever he wanted them to until his dying breath.

The joke was on them though.

His doctor told him he was healthy as a horse.  

“If I had a million dollars, if I had a million dollars, well I’d buy you a house…”

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Chat Pack Challenge 7 – Something Interesting

Today’s question: What is the coolest item you’ve ever discovered at a yard sale (or similar type of venue)?

If you're just tuning in, then welcome to the seventh challenge of my month long Chat Pack Challenge. This is a personal challenge to get me writing every day of the new year. Feel free to join in by leaving your answer to today's question in the comment section or write a reply on your own blog, but if that's how you do it, let me know by leaving the link so I can check out your answer!

I like the way this short story came out today.
The plot had a couple of surprise twists for me while writing it, but everything came together in the end. I had intended to write this tale from the point of view of the older sister, but for some reason the little sister sort of took over the story.
And I’m okay with that now.
Enjoy the story below!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Chat Pack Challenge 6 – The Greatest of These

Today’s question: What do you think is the most valuable attribute for any person to have?

Ooh, this is a good one today. This question drives at a very personal subject for me t. I hope this isn’t confusing the way it's written.
The Greatest of These

…The greatest of these is love…

He closed the book and closed his eyes. The passage had etched a picture on the inside of his eyelids. It was a picture of a lonely hill, an angry mob standing at the top while angry dark clouds hovered overhead. From the distance he was in his mind-picture, he could just make out the shape of three crosses.

He knew that each bore a man ‘til their death. One man bore an extra weight besides his own body. It was the weight of the world.

…If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not love, I gain nothing…

That man’s name was Love.

…Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves…

For it was love that drove him to bear the cross upon that hill that day. It was love that kept him nailed there. It was love that kept him locked within his frail human flesh.

…Love never fails...

It was a love for the world – past and future. For you. For me. For those who spat at him, teasing, jeering at his feet, watching him die, naked and humiliated, on that cross.

… But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known…

But Love did it because he knew. He knew the price and he paid it willingly. In the act of the greatest sacrifice, Love gave all.

…And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Chat Pack Challenge 5 – Thoughts of a Slow Eating Individual

Today’s question: Who is the slowest eater you've ever known?

Thoughts of a Slow Eating Individual

Everyone around the table bursts into laughter. The joke is funny, but not that funny.

My joke would have been better.

Too bad I can't take the time to say it aloud.

The food on my companions' plates are already three-quarters of the way gone. Mine just looks like I’ve been stirring it around this whole time.

I don't join in the conversation much. A word here or there, that's it. I feel like I've had time to do nothing but shovel food into my mouth since the waiter set the meal in front of us. They are all good at carrying on a conversation without me anyway.

But I hate that I can't figure out their secret to eating quickly.

Bit bite, lots of chewing; small bites, swallowing whole. Doesn't seem to matter, I am always the last one done. No matter what tacit I try, I know I'm going to be sitting here still eating when they finish and then they'll be just looking at me, waiting.
And I know what they'll all be thinking.
Why is she such a slow eater?
I'd like to tell them their guess is as good as mine, but I'll still be eating. So I won't be able to take the time for the remark.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Chat Pack Challenge 4 – Moving Day

Today’s question: What is the worst “moving-day” experience you’ve ever had?

Okay, for starters, I had to laugh when this question came up. It was about a year ago that I wrote a column for work about card board boxes and my inability to rid myself of them for the difficulty it took me to acquire the amount I needed to move halfway across my home state.

And now I’m packing boxes again, across town this time.

In reality, I’ve moved very few times and I’ve never really had a bad experience. I’m hoping this time is the same as all the times before.

So instead of a real-life example, I give you this micro flash fiction instead.

*A disclaimer: I’ve never hired a moving truck and so I have no idea if this story is even possible in reality. I hope you enjoy it nonetheless.  

Moving Day

The house was big and the porch built to match. Our new two-story farm house stood before us in all its majesty. It was the picturesque fairy tale country home, complete with a white picket fence.
It was our dream home.

I looked over at Jamie and she smiled back at me. I’d hoped she was thinking the same thing I was; a couple kids running around in the front yard someday. There weren’t any kids yet, but Jamie and I hoped to start our family soon enough. I put my arm around her shoulders and she leaned into me. I felt her sigh of contentment.

“It’s perfect, Scott,” she said as she looked up at me.

I leaned down to kiss her forehead. “It’s going to be an amazing place for us.”

Her smile only grew.

Just then, we heard a vehicle approaching and turned to see our moving truck rumbling down the narrow country lane, dust billowing out behind it.

“Oh, quick,” Jamie squealed. “Give me the keys and I’ll go unlock the house while you guys start carrying boxes in.”

I laughed at her enthusiasm but dug the key out of my jeans pocket anyway. I planted one last kiss on her forehead before releasing my arm from around her neck. She practically skipped up the pathway to that giant porch.

The truck came to a screeching halt in front of our new home and I cringed as the tires slid on the gravel. That couldn’t be good for our stuff inside. The movers climbed out and headed to the back, seeming to ignore me. Suddenly getting a sour taste in my mouth and a knot in my stomach, I followed the guys to the back of the truck. They slid open the door and right away I knew something wasn’t right.

The red-haired doll sticking out of the top of the box marked “Annie’s Toys” was one of the first thing I noticed.

As the movers began to lower the ramps and moved to start unloading the boxes, I cleared my throat and tried to speak, hardly knowing what to say.

“Ah, guys, I don’t think this is the right truck,” I said lamely.

The two guys stopped and just looked at me with blank expressions. I tried again.

“Um, what I mean, is, this is not our stuff…”  I waved my hand toward the boxes.

By now, Jamie had come back from unlocking the house. She bounded up the ramp and said, “All set!” She grabbed a box without noticing the strange names written on it and headed for the house. The two movers sort of looked back and forth at each other and then continued to pick up some stranger’s couch and move it out of the truck.

“Ah, Jamie,” I called as I bounded out of the back of the truck. I caught up with her on the porch of our new house. She turned and looked at me, right away scanning my empty hands. She looked at me accusingly. Her mouth began to open to lecture me about not helping, but I cut her off. “There’s a bit of a problem,” I told her.

“What is it?” she asked, her brows suddenly furrowing.

I simply took the box from her she’d been carrying and pointed to the writing: “Annie’s Toys.”

Her jaw dropped open as she looked at the box. Just then, the movers walked past us, carrying the couch between the two of them, walked up the steps and into our new house.

Jamie’s jaw was still gapping open when she turned to me. “Um, gentlemen, I think there's been some sort of mistake,” she called out and the movers stopped, the couch half way over the threshold, and looked at Jamie. Their expressions were borderline bored. The movers looked back towards each other, shrugged and then kept going, taking some stranger's couch into our house.
“That’s not our couch,” she stated then turned to me. "Scott, that's not our couch."

I shrugged, at a loss for what to do.
This was a moving-day nightmare.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Chat Pack Challenge: 3 – Changes

Today’s question: What is the single most significant change you’ve ever made in your life?


“Ch-ch-changes! Turn and face the strain, ch-ch-changes!”

What an appropriate song, Justin thought as he stepped onto the city sidewalk traffic. He looked down at his iPod. Ah, David Bowie.

Behind him, his now ex-boss was shouting profanity at him, but Justin didn’t care as he stuffed the other ear bud in. The peppy beat from the ear pods worked its way down to Justin’s feet and he was practically dancing down the street. He couldn’t help but bop his head to the music. He found that he didn’t even care that those around him were staring as he went by.

Of course, they could just as easily be wondering after him for the shouts coming from the restaurant he’d just left. The place of his former employment.

Justin smiled. Things were going to be different from now on. He was sure of it.

“Time may change me, but I can’t trace time!”

Friday, January 3, 2014

Chat Pack Challenge: 2 – Memories

Today’s question: What is the earliest memory you have from your childhood?

This is one of the earliest memories I have from when I was younger. I really have no idea how old I was, but I was barely more than a toddler.

Later in life when I told my parents about the memory, both scoffed and didn't beleive I could possibly have any memories of my great grandpa. He died not long after this memory.


I remember it like they portray memories in the movies. Everything is blurry, nothing in focus. There’s a white fog at the edge of my vision. I don’t know that I remember any particular feeling, I am just there.

Some of my early childhood memories I get like this third-person omnipresent feel, like I’m watching myself in a film, not in my own head. But in this memory, I am in my own head, looking out of my own eyes, although it’s like I’m set back a little ways, like looking down a tunnel.

I’m standing in the drive way in front of my grandparents’ house. It’s twilight with just enough light that it’s hard to see. I feel warm, summer. The air is cool.

In front of me, on the ground, is a pair of glasses. I reach out and pick them up and turn to see my dad and two uncles helping my great grandfather into the house. The old man looks unstable and is holding is forehead.  I have the feeling like Great Grandpa George fell. That’s why his glasses were on the ground.

But is that blood trickling down his face? I look down at his glasses in my hands.

Then my dad is calling to me and the memory fades out.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Chat Pack Challenge: 1 – The Dream Job

Today’s question: What do you think would be the best job to have in the entire world?

So obviously this thing was a last-minute plan, the writing every day challenge thing. I’m still writing today, but I realized later that yesterday’s post should have been a December 31st post and today’s post should have been yesterday and what I should be writing now would be the real day two.


I’ll have some time tomorrow (Friday) so I’ll catch up then.

As of now, here is the short story I was inspired to write based on today’s question. Feel free to write your own response in the comments or on your own blog (but please put a link to your response in the comments so I can read what you wrote).

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Write Your Novel (With Me) in 2014

I let my subscription to Writer’s Digest laps, but finally decided to re-subscribe. The other day, my first new issue came in. Sprawled across the cover was the title of an article that was meant as a call to action.

Instead, it felt more like a reprimand.

“Write Your Novel in 2014!” the glossy magazine cried out to me. You see, over the course of 2013, my subscription wasn’t the only thing I let laps. My daily habit of writing creatively went dormant also.

But now, I need to wake up, to get busy, take action.

Because it’s a new year.

I have a plan to kick start that creativity again. It’s sort of a challenge for the month of January. It’s kind of a personal thing, but I wanted to extend an invitation to you, my dear reader, anyway.

Won’t you join me?