So much for good intentions!

I can't believe that I'm on day 14 of NaNoWriMo and haven't posted since day 3! Things have been so busy around here that I just haven't made it to the blog. I have a long list of sock monkey orders to be finished in time to mail them to their new owners to give as Christmas gifts and we've been dealing with colds and a sick dog in the family. Not mine, my daughter's. I've also been taking time to play with the grandkids...nothing comes before that!

The roses are drying. I love how they look. All droopy and brown around the edges. Somehow I find roses at this stage far more intriguing than when they are in full bloom. They seem to have a story to tell, which is exactly what inspired my novel, Vintage Roses.

I'm at 21,168 for my word count, which puts me 2120 words behind my target goal for today, but I'm planning a marathon writing session this evening, so I fully expect to be caught up by tomorrow morning.

I've also completed 2 sock monkeys this past week - Scurvy Sam Sneed and Lucy Ladybug. I'm finding that alternating creative activities between writing and sock monkey making brings out the best of both arts. I'm also finding that writing really relaxes me...wahoo!

Here's another short excerpt from the book"

Outside the sun was shining bright. A soft breeze met her as she walked down the path to the lake. She found a life vest in the boathouse. She didn’t intend to wear it, but thought it wise to take it just in case.

As she rowed away from the house, she found that her aunt was right. Rosehaven was even more beautiful from this vantage point. Jill could imagine 100 years of family living there. Parties on the lawn, weddings, birthday celebrations. It didn’t seem as if anything bad could ever happen at Rosehaven.

Of course, she knew that wasn’t true. She was sure Rosehaven had seen it’s share of life and death and everything that happens in between, but somehow Jill imagined that life’s tragedies would be easier to handle if one lived at Rosehaven.

She shook off her thoughts and pulled herself back to her surroundings. The lake was gorgeous. She rowed along the east bank, keeping her eyes peeled for birds and wildlife. She wasn’t disappointed. Around one bend she saw a deer drinking from the cove. It paused to look at her for just a moment for bolting back into the woods. It was only then that Jill noticed a spotted fawn following close on its mother’s heels.

Later she saw a couple of beavers busily carrying reeds to their underwater home. One slapped his tail loudly against the surface of the water as if to warn Jill away from his domain.

Wildflowers grew in profusion along the banks while humming birds and honey bees busily gathered nectar from their colorful blossoms.

Jill secured her oars inside the boat and allowed herself to drift. She opened The Secret Garden, thinking how much it felt like she had just stepped into an enchanted place of her own.

The sun grew warmer as Jill floated. She poured herself a cup of iced lemonade from the thermos and munched on the sandwich Callie had packed for her.

Finally, the sun became too much for her. Jill slipped off her shorts and t-shirt and dove into the water. She gasped when she surfaced. She hadn’t expected the water to be that cold. She swam a few brisk laps around the boat and climbed back in again, but as she did, she had the distinct feeling that she was being watched.

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(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)
Went to Borders today, ordered a large sugar-free hazelnut decaf latte and headed to the back table. Set my MP3 player to the soundtrack from Somewhere in Time and fired up my Alphasmart and banged out another 1658 words on my novel. It was a great day for writing! Worked out a couple of bugs in the plot and introduced Morgan, the funny little man who owns the art gallery where Jill works. He's a sweetie.

Here's the roses on Day 3. Thought I'd take a shot from above this time...aren't they gorgeous?



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(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

NaNoWriMo - Day 2

Current word count: 3450

Day 2 of NaNoWriMo and the going is slow. I'm right on pace with my word count, but learning that writing a novel is way different than writing a short story. In short stories, you keep your words to a minimum, put in only the things that count and move the storyline along quickly. In a novel, you give details, dialogue, backstory, setting, etc. - Way different!

Here's how the roses are doing:

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(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

NaNoWriMo - Day 1

Well, it's started! Today is the first official day of NaNoWriMo and my book has been started. To celebrate, I bought myself a dozen roses yesterday. My plan is to take pictures of them everyday as they age. Why? Because there is a vase of roses in my book that have stood in the same place for over 50 years as a token of true love. Here's a picture of the roses yesterday when I first brought them home and then today:

As you can see, they're beginning to open nicely...and they smell wonderful!
Want to read the first paragraph of the book? (Remember, this is a first draft, so it might be a little rough and may change later.)

Jill saw the headlights cross the centerline at the exact moment Richard slammed on the brakes. Her own screams mingled with the screeching of the tires and then she felt Richard’s hand on hers. Time stood still for a split second. It seemed eerily quiet inside the car. Richard and Jill's eyes locked and said in that moment, everything there wasn’t time to say aloud. Then the semi truck slammed into them.

Haha - it's hard to tell from that first paragraph, but this really is a love story - just had to grab your attention from the very start.

Until tomorrow...
Current Word Count 1560
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(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Countdown to NaNoWriMo - Midnight tonight!

Just 14 hours and a few minutes until NaNoWriMo starts! I'll be writing a 50,000+ word novel in just 30 days!
The book is called Vintage Roses. It's a story of enduring love, shaky faith and the faithfulness of God, set in a charming victorian house just outside of Marietta, Ohio


"The bouquet of roses were placed on the marble-topped table over 50 years ago. They have aged with grace and beauty. The dried edges are browned and curled and the colors are faded, but not the love with which they were given. They stand as a token of John's love for Aunt Elizabeth and as a glimmer of hope for Jillian, whose fiancee has just been killed in a horrible car accident."

Follow along as this story unfolds. I'll be posting each day as I write with excerpts, pictures and tales of the writing experience. This should be soooo much fun!
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(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

A Story by my 10 year old Grandson, Ethan

The Most Embarrassing Halloween Ever

It was a dark an stormy night. Well, that’s what the hobo across the street says.

Then as I was passing Bolk Street, and looked across the street and saw a door, just a door, sitting in the middle of the yard. I ran across the street and saw a triangle carved as a doorknob. I opened the door and closed it, next thing I know I'm in a mansion!

A fireplace on the left and a bohemoth-sized statue on the wall. A word was carved into the wall "Gamoth, a once mighty wizard”. The statue glowed and cracked. Ok this is just like the thing in a horror movie!”

A guy with a gas mask came out and said, ”I hate my job.”

He saw me and said, "Umm, SAY YOUR PRAYERS!” He let out “laughing gas” and I fell to the floor. And the last thing I heard was, “What should we do with him? He he I have an idea.”

"Zzz…Zzz,(Yawn) w-where am I?” All of the sudden a speaker came out “Now for our last presentation, THE FLYING BOY, IN HIS UNDERWEAR! The fake scenery fell to the ground and some one pushed me off a ledge” IM A, GONNA DIE!”

Luckily I was tied to a rope and, and, IN MY UNDER WEAR! After that night I would never do Halloween again.
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(Copyright © 2009 Ethan Spangler. All rights reserved.)

A Strange Journey

Jana pressed the end of the stethoscope to her chest and listened to the wild beat of her heart. Weeks of erratic and racing heartbeats had driven her to near paranoia.

The cardiologist had run a battery of tests, all of which came back normal. He put her on a heart monitor for 30 days, but her heart never messed up one time while she was on the monitor. Of course, the day she mailed it back it started up again. She woke at 3:00 AM with her heart pounding out of her chest.

Another week of palpitations and fibrillation and the doctor finally agreed to put her back on the monitor for another 30 days. It worked, or so she thought. On Saturday evening she had been able to record several really bad episodes on the monitor and called them into the monitoring service. The technician from the service had called her back after her last transmission and said there had been some static on transmission and that she needed Jana to send another one to see if the monitor was malfunctioning.

After the new transmission was sent, the technician called back and said she had spoken with the doctor and he wanted Jana to call the office first thing Monday morning.

Finally, she thought, they will be able to see what’s been happening and do something to help her heart function normally or were they just going to tell her that they needed to give her a new monitor?

With a little peace of mind, Jana was finally able to lie down and fall asleep, despite the feeling that her heart was doing little flip-flops in her chest.

She had only been asleep for a few minutes when the racing of her heart made her sit straight up in bed and grab for the stethoscope on the bedside table. She turned on the light as she listened and checked the monitor. Her heart was racing at over 170 beats per minute. She could feel it pounding in her ears; she counted every beat and willed it to slow down. She prayed, she tried to breath slowly and steadily, she tried to remain calm, but nothing helped.

Suddenly, the beating stopped. The room was absolutely silent. She shook her husband to wake him, but as usual, he didn’t respond. That man could sleep through a tornado!

She repositioned the stethoscope, but heard nothing. She looked at the monitor again, but this time the display was blank.

She thought about the technician checking for a malfunction in the monitor.

“Just my stinkin’ luck,” Jana thought. “I get a broken monitor.”

Her mouth and throat felt so dry, so she slipped out of bed and went to kitchen to get a drink of water. she stopped to use the bathroom before going back to bed. She flipped on the bathroom light and glanced in the mirror and that’s when Jana began to scream. She couldn’t see herself in the mirror…no reflection.

In the midst of her terror, bazaar thoughts flew threw her mind…

“no reflection, just like Dracula…”
“why isn’t my husband flying in here to see what’s wrong with me?”
“am I dead?”

She stopped screaming when she heard the voice say, “You’re not dead, Jana.”

Chills ran up her spine.

“Can’t be dead, dead women don’t get chills,” she thought.

Jana looked in the mirror again. She still couldn’t see herself, but she could see someone standing there, someone she had never seen before, yet he looked oddly familiar. She whirled around, but no one was there. She turned back to the mirror. He was still there, now with a big grin on his face.

“I’m losing my mind,” Jana thought. “All the stress of this heart condition is making me crazy.”

“You’re not crazy, Jana,” said the man. “You’re going to be fine. I just want to show you something. Come with me.”

Jana felt herself moving. She couldn’t tell how, or in what direction, she just felt the sensation of motion all around her.

She suddenly found herself sitting in a booth at McDonalds. The man was seated across from her.

“Ok, this is insane. If I’m dead, this isn’t my idea of Heaven. What’s going on here?” she asked.

“Don’t you remember, Jana?” said the man.

“Remember? Remember McDonalds? Of course, I’ve been to lots of different McDonalds. What am I supposed to remember?” Jana asked.

“Remember, 30 years ago, this McDonalds, and the old man who was washing his face and hair at the water spigot outside the building next door. You’d seen him many times before that day walking the streets. Rumor had it that he was homeless and lived in the woods behind the freeway. Remember? You felt sorry for him and gave him your breakfast. You told him Jesus loved him. He didn’t say anything, but he never forgot your kindness that morning,” said the man.

“How do you know that?” Jana asked.

“Because, I am that man, Jana.” He said.

Jan was confused.

“What? That’s impossible. That was 30 years ago and he was old then. You’re not old now, you can’t be him.”

“I’m him, Jana. My name is Jonas and I’m an angel,” he said.

“An angel?” Jana believed in angels. She had read about them in the Bible. Not little babies with wings and a bow and arrow, but strong and mighty angels, messengers of God.

“So, you were that man and you died and became an angel?” she asked haltingly.

“No,” he chuckled, “People don’t become angels. I was an angel then, and I am an angel now.”

Jana was reminded of a Bible verse; “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”

It took her a few minutes to process the thought that she had given her Egg McMuffin to an angel that day.

“Did you eat the McMuffin?” she asked.

Jonas laughed again, “Yes, it was delicious, thank you.”

“I didn’t know angels could eat,” Jana said. She felt foolish and confused. Was she really sitting in a McDonalds talking to an angel?

“Remember that table over there?” he said with a nod of his head. “It was filled with men that morning. Remember how they laughed at me? Called me a worthless bum?”

“I remember,” Jana said, feeling angry all over again. “I wanted to tell them off. Sitting there all pious in their business suits laughing at a poor old man without a penny to his name. Big jerks!”

Jonas grinned. “Well, maybe not jerks, but they were laughing. Remember how they quieted down when they saw you hand me your breakfast. I want you to know that your simple act of kindness had a profound effect on those men. Each one was a little kinder to others after that day. Their kindnesses through the years eased a lot of suffering for others. Thank you for showing them the way.”

Jana didn’t know what to say.

“Jana, there’s more,” he said. “Remember the little girl that lived in the apartment three doors down from you many years ago? Rayanna was her name. You took her to Sunday School every week until her family moved away.”

“I remember.” Jana said. “I wonder what ever happened to her?”

“She had a rough childhood. Both of her parents were arrested and imprisoned for drug related crimes. You didn’t know it, but those Sunday mornings were the only bright spots in Rayanna’s life at that time. Rayanna was put into foster care and placed in the care of a loving couple who also took her to church,” Jonas said. “She became a nurse. A hospice nurse, to be exact. She was a great comfort to her patients and introduced many of them to the Father before they passed away.”

“That’s wonderful,” Jana said, “I prayed for her several times through the years, whenever she came to mind.”

“Your prayers were heard and answered, Jana,” said Jonas.

Jana smiled.

“You want some French fries?” Jonas asked, and then laughed again at the puzzled look on Jana’s face.

“Come on, we’ll get some to go.” He said.

Seconds later Jana felt herself pulled into motion again. Lights, colors and fragrances swirled around her. She could smell lilacs – her favorite flower.

They came to rest in a meadow. A blanket had been spread under the shade of a flowering lilac bush. Jana breathed deep. The smell of lilacs always took her back to her childhood. There had been a hedgerow of tall lilac bushes along the property line of her childhood home. She remembered taking her father’s handsaw and chopping out a hollow in the middle of the bushes. It was her quiet spot. She had spent weeks one spring, safe inside her leafy cave, reading Trixie Belden Mysteries and breathing in the fragrance of lilacs.

“Jana,” Jonas said, snapping her out of the memory. He handed her a bag of French fries and a Coke, then asked, “Jana, do you remember the lilacs?”

“Sure, I remember,” Jana said, popping a hot fry into her mouth. “That was a great spring.”

“Was it?” Jonas asked, softly. “What were you hiding from there among the lilacs, Jana?”

“Nothing,” Jana said quickly. “I was just reading my books.” The French fry stuck in her throat.

“Jana,” he said again, and the memories flooded back to Jana’s heart. She hung her head.

“I don’t want to remember,” she said.

“I won’t allow you to remember the details,” Jonas said. “I don’t want you to feel the pain all over again. I just want you to know that I was there with you. The Father sent me to comfort you. He even sent extra blossoms to the lilacs that year just for you.”

Jana’s voice cracked, “But, if He knew, then why didn’t he stop it from happening?”

Jonas’s voice was soothing, “Jana, the Father gave mankind free will. Man chooses his own behavior. Some men choose to do evil things. It breaks the Father’s heart, but to interfere with man’s right to choose, even his right to choose the wrong thing would violate the laws of Creation. I know that’s hard for you to understand, but when you were violated, He was also violated. He felt your pain.

Believe me, the persons who hurt you paid for their sins. You may not have seen the punishment outwardly, but things happened in their lives as a result of their choices that were devastating to them.”

“I never forgot what happened,” Jana said, “but I think I did forgive them. At least I tried.”

“Jana, you did forgive them and that’s why the Father was able to use you through the years to help and comfort others that had also been hurt and violated just as you had. Remember them?” Jonas said.

Jana looked up to see herself surrounded by a throng of women. She recognized some of them, but most were strangers to her. They were all smiling.

“I don’t get it, Jonas,” Jana said, “I don’t know most of these women. I didn’t help them all.”

“Oh, but you did,” said Jonas, “You see, when we help someone through an experience that we ourselves have gone through, it has an exponential effect. They in turn comfort and help others and it just flows from one person to another.”

“See Sally, over there?” Jonas asked.

Jana turned to see a pretty blonde give her a little wave.

Jonas spoke again, “Sally started Woman to Woman Ministries in her little church. It has grown to reach thousands of women, helping them through some of life’s most difficult trials. She based that ministry on a passage of scripture found in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4…

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

You see, Jana, your hurt did not go to waste. The Father has used it over and over again through the years to help many women. He didn’t cause your pain, but he turned a very painful situation into something very good.”

Jana looked around again at large crowd of women. A soft collective “thank you” rose from the crowd and then they faded away right before her eyes.

“Jonas, please,” she said, “I don’t understand what’s happening. Am I dreaming? Am I dead? Am I ever going to see my family again?”

She began to panic and wondered if that would make her heart start beating erratically again.

“Peace, be still,” said Jonas and she did feel peace. She felt it flowing into her inner most being.

“The Father has heard your anxious heart. He knows you’ve been wondering if your life is almost at an end. He’s seen you question whether you’ve ever done anything important with your life. Jana, the Father has brought us together tonight so that you might know that throughout your lifetime you have done many wonderful and special things. Things you thought unimportant, just one person helping another, but the Father calls that ministry. He sent his Son to minister to those on earth, to lay down his life so that others might be saved, might be comforted, might be helped, and you, Jana, you have continued the ministry of the Son. You have been His hand extended to many people around you.

I am here tonight to tell you that you are going to be fine. You have many years left to live before you come home to the Father. Enjoy them, Jana. You will touch many lives and they in turn will touch other lives. It’s the cycle of life set up by the Father.

Now, rest, my child. Let not your heart be troubled. His peace I leave with you. Continue to do good and to encourage those around you and know this…I will be with you always, a servant of Jesus Christ, sent to minister to his daughter. Good-night, Jana.” Jonas said and disappeared.

Jana felt herself moving again, moving through time and space until she landed in the softness of her own pillows.

The beating of her heart had quieted; it was steady and strong, not erratic at all. Her husband still lay sleeping beside her.

Jana shook her head. “That man could sleep through anything,.” She thought.

She thought about all she’d been through.

“Thank you,” she whispered quietly to the Father.

“Your welcome,” her husband mumbled in his sleep.

Jana rolled her eyes, turned over and fell in to a deep and restful sleep.
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(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

The Key

Prompt was "You use a key to go into the apartment of an ex-boyfriend. He comes in and you hide in the closet. Describe what happens."

What I wrote:

Photo courtesy hisks,
rgbstock.com

She stood outside his apartment fingering the key he’d given her. If he’d really meant the break-up to be permanent, wouldn’t he have asked for it back? She slipped the key in the lock like she’d done a hundred times before, but this time she felt guilty.

“I’m just going to gather the rest of my stuff and get out of here,” she muttered. The lie rang in her own ears. She knew full well that she had taken all of her belongings three weeks ago while he had stood watching her. She had packed slowly, hoping he would rethink his decision, but he didn’t say a word. And when she had finished he still didn’t say anything, just opened the door and shut it behind her.

She wandered around the apartment, now fingering his things. His books, his golf clubs, his guitar. She opened his refrigerator. Diet Coke? That was new. Dirty dishes in the sink. That wasn’t new. She made her way to the bedroom and stopped just inside the door. Memories brought tears to her eyes. She distracted herself by moving into the bathroom. She opened the medicine cabinet door, feeling a bit comforted by the mangled toothpaste tube, the familiar blue toothbrush and his bottle of after-shave, but a pink plastic case of birth-control pills on the second shelf made her heart skip a beat. She backed away from them, away from the bathroom and back into the bedroom, her mind reeling.

It had only been three weeks.

She opened the door to his walk-in closet. The one they had shared. The space had once been cluttered with their stuff, piled on the floor, intermingled, like it all belonged tangled together…belonged to just one person, or two people who had become one.

The space was completely organized now. So orderly, with his clothes hung neatly on the right side of the closet and separated by colors. Shoes on their racks, sporting equipment in a bin, ties hung on a special carousel.

And on the left…dresses, blouses, purses, high-heels…all organized neatly. She fought the urge to rip them from their hangers. She fought the urge to scream. She didn’t fight the urge to run, but just as she turned to flee she heard the front door open.

She ducked inside the closet and pulled the door shut. She could hear them talking, laughing, sharing the events of the day. She could hear dishwater running. They were doing the dishes together. Something she’d never known him to do. The doorbell rang and soon she could smell food…Chinese food. He hated Chinese food. Her stomach growled.

By the time dinner was over, her legs were aching from standing in one spot so long. straining to hear what was going on in the other room.

He put on some music. It cut through her like a knife. She could imagine him pulling this woman into his arms, nuzzling her neck, moving her seductively around the room. She could hear their footsteps moving in time with the music. Moving closer as he danced her into the bedroom.

Shadows moved past the crack in the closet door. Past her to the bed. She could hear clothing dropping to the floor. Could hear the sounds of passion building. Could feel the shattering of her heart into a million pieces.

She backed into the furthest corner of the closet, knowing that any noise she made would not be heard in this moment. She slid to the floor, closed her eyes and covered her ears.

She waited, past the soft low murmurs that follow passion, past the routine bathroom preparations for sleep and past the goodnight kisses. Until she could hear the steady deep breathing of satisfied lovers.

Then she slipped silently from the closet, being careful not to look in their direction, through the apartment where she deposited the key on the dining room table before slipping out the front door into the darkest night she’d ever known.


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(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Lock Your Car Doors!

Today’s Prompt: He was stopped at a red light when an old woman opened his passenger door and got in.

It was the mother of all traffic jams. Harold had been glad when five o’clock finally rolled around that Friday afternoon. He needed the weekend. Actually he needed more than a weekend. He needed about 2 months on a deserted beach with nothing but a hut, plenty of food and gallons of sweet tea.

He was enjoying the vision of his restful beach when the passenger door of his car opened and a total stranger got in.

She was an old woman, primly dressed. She sported a tiny pillbox hat with pink flowers and netting that covered her forehead. Her small white-gloved hands clutched a matching patent leather handbag.

“Excuse me, young man,” she said, “I know it’s perfectly rude of me to get into your car, but I am in trouble and I need your help.”

Harold didn’t know what to say.

“My name is Mrs. Tildy Manchester,” she said. “and I’m being followed by two men who mean to do me harm. I would very much appreciate it if you could drive me to 31 W. Charles Street. I will be safe there.”

Harold shook his head as if doing so would help him think more clearly.

Traffic began moving and horns began honking angrily behind him. Harold glanced in his rear view mirror and saw two men running down the sidewalk toward them.

“Stop!” They shouted, pointing at his car.

Instinctively Harold stepped on the gas pedal.

“Maam, if you’re in trouble, we should call the police.”

“Yes, of course, but first we must be sure we have lost those two thugs. Turn right here,” she said.

Harold obediently made a right hand turn.

Now he was beginning to feel quite gallant. He would rescue the fair damsel in distress…well, the fair grandmotherly damsel in distress, then he would ride away like a knight on his white steed off into the sunset…a beautiful beach sunset.

“Look out!” cried Mrs. Manchester.

It was too late; Harold had run into the back of a New York taxicab. The irate cabbie jumped from his car with fury in his eyes.

To Harold’s surprise, the old woman was out of the car and face to face with the cabbie before he could even get past the taxi’s smashed bumper.

When Harold approached them, he saw the old woman slip a handful of bills into the cabbie’s hand. He grinned and returned to the driver’s seat of his cab.

Harold flipped open his cell phone to call the police and report the accident, but before he could dial, he looked up and saw the same two thugs jumping out of a sedan four cars behind them. Mrs. Manchester grabbed him by the arm, pushed him into the open door of the taxi and crawled in behind him.

The taxi driver made a sharp left-hand turn and hit the gas so hard that it threw Harold against the door. His head banged into the window, leaving a nasty bump Blood trickled down his temple. Tildy Manchester attended to his injury, wiping the blood away with a dainty, lace-edged handkerchief while the cabbie continued through the maze of traffic and city streets at breakneck speed.

They finally came to a halt at 31 W. Charles Street. It was a pawnshop with big dice spinning above the door. Mrs. Manchester leaned across Harold’s lap and opened the door.

“Time for us to get out, young man,” she said, giving Harold a little shove.

They exited the taxi, which sped off, leaving them standing on the sidewalk, dazed and confused. Well, Harold was dazed and confused. The old woman seemed just fine.

“You wait right here,” she said and disappeared into the pawnshop.

Harold was still trying to clear his head when a black sedan screeched to a halt in front of him. The two men who had been chasing the Mrs. Manchester jumped from the car and tackled Harold. They slapped handcuffs on him, and then asked where the she was.

Harold nodded his throbbing head toward the pawnshop.

One of the men went into the pawnshop while the other read Harold his Miranda rights.

Harold tried to explain what had happened, but his words fell on deaf ears.

The other man stepped out of the pawnshop, shaking his head. “She’s not in there…must have slipped out the back door. Probably had another driver waiting for her in the alley.” he said.

“Well, at least we got this one,” said the other. He gave Harold a shove toward the sedan and said, “You’re going away for a long time, son.”

“Yeah, you’re getting an all expenses paid vacation in the slammer,” the other man laughed as he opened the back door of the sedan and put Harold inside.

Harold found out at the trial that Mrs. Tildy Manchester was better known as Mean Mama Manchester, jewel thief, bank robber and ringmaster of a notorious gang from the Bronx. She continues to elude the police.

Harold faced trial, but was cleared of all charges.

The day he was found not guilty, he drove straight to the airport (with his car doors locked) and bought a plane ticket to Tahiti. He hasn’t been seen since.


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(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Delectation - Another Example of Flash Fiction

Today's Prompt: "delectation" (written without knowing the definition of the word)

Harley squatted by the fire and turned the spit one more time. The rattler that had tried to bite him not more than 30 minutes ago was sizzlin’ over the flames and fixin’ to be bit his ownself. Harley pulled the meat from the stick and sunk his teeth in deep. He had never tasted a more delicious delectation in all his life.

As it turns out the word means: great pleasure; delight; enjoyment
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(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

The Hunt

Today’s Writing Prompt: The pipes groaned, then vomited rusty water out into the sink.
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Michael C. Fasnaught’s day had started like any other day, except he had decided to call off work to go rabbit hunting.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Jennings, I won’t be able to come to work today. I’m running a terrible fever.” He explained.

He filled a pack with the essentials, grabbed his shotgun and plenty of ammunition. Mike could readily admit he was a lousy shot, but the thrill of the hunt was what kept him coming back for more.

He felt adventurous, so he drove a little farther than he ever had before, dirt roads and deep ruts led him to an unfamiliar part of the forest. He was feeling so fine, he actually shouted when he got out of the Jaguar.

”Hey, bunnies, here I am. Better run for cover!”

He slipped on his vest, loaded his ammo belt with shells, then filled nearly every pocket with extra shells and headed out for the big kill.

He walked for quite a while without spotting any wildlife. The sun penetrated the canopy of leaves and Michael began to sweat. He pulled a bottle of Perrier from his backpack and took a deep swig. He fished in the pack for his lip balm and smeared his lips, then coated his nose well with zinc oxide and hit the trail again.

Twenty paces down the path, he heard something stirring in the underbrush just to his left. Michael froze in his tracks and listened hard to zero in on the sound. Pinpointing the exact spot, he slowly raised his shotgun. Had he remembered to load it? He didn't know. His heart was pounding and his hands were shaking as he zeroed in on the bush just ahead and waited. His breathing was jagged and so loud in his ears that he was sure it would scare off whatever was hiding in that bush.

Just then a rabbit darted out from under the bush, headed straight for him. He kept a bead on the rabbit, squeezed the trigger, saw the rabbit drop and felt stabbing pains in his bare legs. He screamed in horror as he saw blood dripping from dozens of tiny holes in his legs. His shinbones felt like they had been shattered.

Through the searing pain, he thought, “At least it didn’t ruin my new cargo shorts.”

Mike looked at the bloody rabbit - what was left of him, anyway. The front half of the rabbit lay on top of a large scarred flat rock.

“Like a sacrifice to the hunting gods,” he thought.

The back of the rabbit was mostly gone. Despite the pain in his legs, Mike was excited. He had finally bagged a bunny!

He hobbled over to the rabbit and gingerly picked it up by the ears, wondering about things like lice and ear mites. He pulled a monogrammed handkerchief from his pocket and wiped blood from his legs. The pain had been forgotten in the excitement of his success, but it was coming back to him now.

He wondered how he would make it back to the car and then drive himself to the hospital.

“Mike, you are a warrior! A great white hunter! You can do this…you are Superman!” he said out loud, but whimpered like a baby with every step back down the path. Twenty minutes later he realized that he had absolutely no idea where the Jaguar was parked.

He reached for his cell phone and realized he had lost it on the trail somewhere. Still clutching the rabbit (or half-rabbit) by the ears, he tried to get a sense of direction from the position of the sun in the sky.

“Who are you kidding, Mike? You have no idea how to tell direction from the sun."

He walked on, limping badly, tears running down his cheeks. He wondered if he would die out here in the woods. He began to pray;”Now I lay me down to sleep…” No, that’s not right. “God is great, God is good…” No, that’s not it either. “God? Are you there? It’s me, Michael. I’m in a bit of troube - no, I’m in big trouble. I’m lost, I’m shot and I need your help.”

He spent the next hour or so, walking and confessing every bad thing he had ever done, from spitting in his sister’s chocolate milk to cheating on his taxes, the dismembered bunny, swung like a pendulum as he walked.

Finally, he stumbled into a clearing with an old abandoned farmhouse in the middle. The steps creaked loudly and threatened to give way as he hobbled up them. The door was ajar. He was glad he wouldn’t have to use brute force to knock it down.

Once his eyes adjusted to the dimness of the room, he found himself in the kitchen. He went straight for the sink, hoping to clean his wounds and get a drink. (He had finished his Perrier long ago.) There was no faucet or spigots, just an old hand pump.

He tossed his kill into the sink and took hold of the pump handle. It creaked loudly as he pumped. He could hear a faint gurgling deep in the pipes, but it refused to give up any water.

Mike pumped harder.

“I am a warrior. A great hunter. I am superman! And I command you to give me water!’

The pipes groaned, then vomited rusty water out into the sink, covering the rabbit in red sludge.

Mike cursed, then apologized to God.

He removed the slimy half-rabbit from the sink and pumped some more, but try as he might, nothing would come out except dirty, rusty water.

“Well, Mike, old boy,” he said. “You can’t drink that, you can’t wash your wounds with it, and you’re stuck in the woods in an abandoned old house with no cell phone. Now what?”

He searched through the cupboards and drawers of the kitchen, pushing aside old cutlery, shredded paper that had been made into mouse nests, and moth-eaten linens, until finally he found a box of matches.

It had to be done. Mike lit the old curtains that hung at the wall and watched them quickly catch fire. He ran to the living room and set the drapes on fire. Smoke quickly filled the room as he dashed outside.

Suddenly, he remembered his rabbit. He darted back through the door and emerged a minute later, soot covered, but clutching his trophy by the ears. The fur was only a little singed.

He stood at the edge of the clearing and waited. Finally, he heard the whirring of helicopter blades overhead. He ran into the clearing and waved his arms to signal the pilot. The rabbit flopped wildly in his grip.

A short time later fire trucks, police cars and several news vans, complete with satellite dishes on the roofs came roaring down the dirt road on the other side of the house.

Firemen went to work on the house, EMT’s went to work on his legs and a police officer went to work grilling Mike.

“You start this fire?” he asked.

“Yes, officer. It was a matter of life and death. I was hunting," he said, raising the rabbit for the officer to see as the news camera’s zoomed in. "I was wounded. I lost my cell phone and stumbled around the woods for hours. I had to set the fire to attract a rescue team.”

“This your cell phone,” asked the officer.

Mike took it. “Yes, it is, where did you find it?”

“On the hood of a Jaguar at the end of this drive,” he said.

Mike has given up hunting. His legs are healing and he only had to spend a few nights in jail. Now he spends most of his time looking for a new job in order to pay off the huge debt he incurred by setting the fire. It’s rough, but there are a few bright spots.

Each evening he brews himself a soothing cup of chamomile tea, thankful for spigots, faucets and fresh, clear water. He limps to the den and sits before the crackling fire, thinking back on his ordeal. It should be a traumatic memory, and it might be if not for the front half of a scruffy-looking rabbit, mounted and hanging proudly above the mantle.

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*No bunnies were harmed during the writing of this story.
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(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

I'm writing a new book!

After searching the internet for weeks for good writing prompts and coming up with very few good ones, I have started compiling a book of 1001 Writing Prompts.

Today I found this question asked on Ask MetaFilter...

"Does anyone know where to find good writing prompts? The ones I've found in Google are either boring or intended for children. I'm an aspiring writer and it'd be a big help to have prompts to get me motivated."

Fifty people marked this question as a favorite, so I guess I'm not the only one who would love a book filled with good writing prompts.

So, hang on fellow writers...the book we want, the book we need is on the way!

Flash Fiction

Last night I discovered Flash Fiction.

"Flash fiction is fiction of extreme brevity. The standard, generally-accepted length of a flash fiction piece is 1000 words or less. ..." (Wikipedia)

My brother and I decided to give it a whirl today. He picked the theme "Time" and we set about writing our first flash fiction.

I ended up writing two pieces. Here they are:

The Times they are a Changin’

He wound the pocket watch carefully, picked up his lunch box, kissed his wife and headed for the train depot.

Thirty years he had made this trip and it suited him just fine. He walked past the drugstore on the corner and waved at Sal, stopped at Joe’s to get a cup of stout coffee, bought the Post at the newsstand and continued his journey.

Only he stepped in front of a trolley car at 14th Street and Broadway.

At the funeral his mother handed him his fathers pocket watch.
------------------------------------
He wound the pocket watch, grabbed a granola bar, kissed his wife and ran for the subway.

Three years he had made this trip and he hated every minute of it. He walked past the barred drugstore on the corner and nodded at the turbaned owner who was unlocking the gate, stopped at Starbucks and picked up a double-shot to kick-start his brain, grabbed the Times at the newsstand and continued his journey.

Only he stepped in front of a taxi at the 14th Street and Broadway.

His mother carefully wrapped his father’s pocket watch in a clean handkerchief and tucked it into her jewelry box. She would give it to him when he got older.

After his mother’s funeral, his sister handed him the pocket watch.

“Mom wanted you to have this when you got older. I think you’re old enough now,” she said, hopefully.
--------------------------------------
He grabbed the pocket watch from his dresser, rifled through his sister’s purse and took some cash, kicked the dog on the way out the door and headed for the Grand Central Station.

He had made this trip every day in the three months since his mother croaked. He pawned the watch at the shop on the corner, stopped at Juan’s and bought a pint, stole a Hustler magazine from the newsstand and continued his journey.

Only they found him that night under the bridge at 14th Street and Broadway.


And this is the second:

Time

He had heard that time stands still in moments of extreme stress. It isn’t so.

The minute the doctor pronounced his sentence, time had accelerated, speeding by in dizzying patterns, swirling about him with hurricane force winds. He needed to catch his breath and then he heard himself gasp.

It was a momentary lapse in his stoic nature. It wouldn’t happen again.

Radiation, chemotherapy, daily trips to the hospital, doctor visits, medication and hovering…always someone hovering.

His world began to shrink. His dreams of adventure in the vast outdoors were reduced to wishing he could go outside and mow the lawn.

His days began to shorten…5 hours awake out of every 24.

His independence all but vanished.

And finally, time stood still.


-------------------------------------
(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Writing Prompt:
"I live in the white cottage at the north end of the lake."
------------------------------------------------------------------
How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Carly lifted the binoculars again, pushing away the guilty feelings
that had made her lower them.

He certainly was handsome in a rugged, bohemian sort of way. She couldn’t get a good look at his face, but his swagger said it all.

“Whatcha lookin’ at?” said a voice so close it made her jump. It was Bobby, her kid brother.

Carly ruffled his hair, “Nothin’ squirt, I thought you were taking a nap.”

“I woked up,” Bobby said, “and I’m hungry.”

“Well, you sit right here on the porch and I’ll make you some lunch,” said Carly. She parked him on the big wooden porch swing and went into the house, letting the screen door slam behind her.

Carly had looked forward to summer at the lake, but babysitting her little brother every day had not been part of her plan. Unfortunately, her parents had counted on her so that they could finish remodeling the library in town. She understood, but she still wasn’t happy about the situation. Her “How I spend my Summer Vacation” essay in the fall was going to be awfully boring.

She slapped together a peanut butter and banana sandwich, being careful to cut off every speck of crust. It would never get eaten otherwise. She poured a glass of cold milk, sliced an apple and put them all on a tray.

As she carried Bobby’s lunch toward the door, she heard him talking.

“Those are Carly’s ‘noculers. She’s my sister. She likes to look at the white house with them.”

“Really,” said an unfamiliar voice, “and why does she like to watch the white house?”

“Don’t know,” said Bobby, then yelled, “Carly, I’m hungry!”.

Carly paused behind the darkness of the screen door before going out. It was Mr. Handsome, up close and just as good looking as he had been at a distance, only more so.

Her mind raced for a plausible reason to give him for pointing the binoculars in the direction of his house, but none came to mind.

She drew a deep breath and stepped out onto the porch.

“Here’s your lunch, Bobby,” then looking at the stranger, “Oh, hello, who are you?”

“Chad Ferris,” he said, “I live in the white cottage on the north side of the lake.” The amused undertone in his voice was unmistakable.

Carly flushed with embarrassment, then stammered, “Oh, the one down by the old mill. Have you noticed the herons that roost in the reeds by the mill? I just love watching them fish the lake.” She picked up the binoculars, “Don’t you think it’s fascinating how they swoop down so gracefully to catch a fish?”

She watched his smile grow as she stumbled through her lame excuse until it was a wide grin. She wasn’t fooling anybody and they both knew it.

“Maybe you and Bobby would like to take a walk down to the cottage sometime and see the herons up close.” He said.

“Yay,” said Bobby, bouncing up and down.

“Maybe,” she said, noncommittally, although she felt like bouncing up and down herself.

Chad gave a little wave of his hand, flashed her another one of his heart-melting grins, then turned and walked back down the path.

Carly watched him walk toward the little white cottage.

“Well, things were certainly looking up. Maybe she would be writing a very interesting essay this September after all.”

If she had only been able to see into the future just a couple of weeks, she would never have taken him up on his invitation. Never in a million years!

(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

The Armor of God

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his great power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can fight against the devil’s evil tricks. Our fight is not against people on earth but against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness, against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly world. That is why you need to put on God’s full armor. Then on the day of evil you will be able to stand strong. And when you have finished the whole fight, you will still be standing. So, stand strong, with the belt of truth tied around your waist and the protection of right living on your chest. On your feet wear the Good News of peace to help you stand strong. And also use the shield of faith with which you can stop all the burning arrows of the Evil One. Accept God’s salvation as your helmet and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times with all kinds of prayers, asking for everything you need. To do this you must always be ready and never give up. Always pray for all God’s people. Romans 6: 10-18

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Be strong in the Lord…
(close to him, continually seeking his heart, his will in all things)

And in His great power…
(not in our own power, but in His power, which is great and which dwells richly in us)

Put on the full armor of God so that you can fight against the devil’s evil tricks…
(we are to fight, not let the devil run roughshod over us, but to fight back, using God’s armor, which gives us the ability to expose and overcome the devil’s evil tricks.)

Our fight is not against people on earth…
(although, that’s who the devil most often uses to carry out his evil schemes because it distracts us from who we should be fighting…him.)

So, let’s take a look at this battle.
Who started the war? Satan
Why? He wanted to be God – to be the ruler – to be worshiped.

Because of this, he was cast out of Heaven and down to the Earth. This did not hinder his desire to be God, it heightened it. He still wants to be the ruler and to be worshiped; the ruler over all God’s creation and worshiped by those who were created to worship God…people.

Satan is not really fighting us. He’s in a war with God, but true-to-form, he fights dirty. He doesn’t attack his real enemy (God), he attacks those dearest to Him. People are just the pawns Satan uses to fight God.

Because we were created for relationship with God, our spirit’s constantly search for Him. Satan’s goal is to keep us from finding God and enjoying a close relationship with Him.

Satan fights to keep us from…
· coming to God, either for salvation or to God in prayer
· knowing the truth in any given situation – especially spiritual truth
· influencing others to follow Jesus or grow in Him once we find Him
· allowing Christ to use us to continue His work here on earth

Our fight is against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness – against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly world.
(because we are now aware of this, we must be careful about being dragged into arguments with others and about being used to offend others)

That is why you need to put on God’s full armor. Then on the day of evil (when Satan attacks) you will be able to stand strong. And when you have finished the whole fight, you will still be standing.
(We are not to give in to the attacks of the enemy…we are to stand strong and fight back…how?)

So stand strong, with the belt of truth tied around your waist
(when faced with a difficult situation…ask God, “What is the truth about this situation?”)

And the protection of right living on your chest.
(Living on the edges of sin leaves you defenseless and wide open for attack from the enemy. Right living provides protection from many of the temptations and plans of the enemy for your life.)

On your feet wear the Good News of peace to help you stand strong
(the Good News is that God has already defeated the devil. God sent Jesus, who brought peace between fallen man and God. The door is wide open for us to have a loving and eternal relationship with God. Satan’s goal is to keep us from walking through that door, or in the event he isn’t able to do that, he wants to keep our lives in such an uproar that there is no peace. Fortunately, he does not really have the authority to do that anymore. Unfortunately, most people don’t realize that after coming into a relationship with Jesus, Satan has no authority in our lives. That doesn’t keep him from trying, which is why we must be ready to stand firm in the armor of God and fight him.)

And also use the shield of faith with which you can stop all the burning arrows of the Evil One.
(We can’t stop him from trying, but we can use our faith to keep believing in God and His great power to protect us and to help us to overcome the things that Satan throws at us.)

Accept God’s salvation as your helmet
(a helmet protects our head…our mind. When the enemy attacks, it’s often in our mind. Keep the truth of your salvation always in the forefront of your mind to protect against his attacks. When you are tempted to doubt your salvation or God’s love for you…remind the enemy of your salvation, which makes you a child of God)

And take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God
(God’s word is your most powerful weapon against the enemy and all his lies, however if you are not familiar with it, you will find yourself in the middle of the battle without your most powerful weapon…READ YOUR BIBLE, study it, memorize it so that you will be prepared for battle.)

Pray in the Spirit at all times with all kinds of prayers, asking for everything you need.
(Stay in constant communication with God. Let him into every nook and cranny of your thought life. Tell him what hurdles you are facing, what you need (not necessarily what you want). He dwells inside of you. He is your constant companion. He wants to step in and help you through all of the ups and downs of life - all he needs is an invitation from you.)

To do this (win the fight against the enemy) you must always be ready and never give up.
(Be prepared - ready, because you never know when an attack might come, and when it comes, be determined to never give up fighting him, never give in to his temptations, never believe his lies, never turn away from God, your richest source of strength.)

Always pray for all God’s people.
(We are all under attack. People who don’t know God are under attack to keep them from coming to Him. People who do know God are under attack to keep them from enjoying a great relationship with him, allowing Him to work through them to reaching others. Keep praying for others…they are in the battle with you and need your support.)

Knowing the enemy and recognizing that you are in a battle is half the winning. Knowing what weapons you have, how to use them and knowing who you serve under is the other half.

Be alert…the enemy roams throughout the earth looking for someone to devour…don’t let that someone be you!

(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Revenge

(Today's writing prompt was...Why didn't you call me?)
---------------------------------------------------------------

Revenge
Ellen’s humiliation was complete. The one person in the world she did not want to see at this moment was John, but here he was, getting a first class shot at her rear end sticking out of the car window.

When she stormed out of the house a couple of hours ago, her intentions were to teach him a lesson. He couldn’t keep coming home late without at least calling. Dinner was ruined once again, but her anger over that had morphed into fear, then panic and back to anger by the time he walked in with a sheepish grin on his face…as if that would make everything better.

“Why didn’t you call me?” she had screamed at him.

Without giving him a chance to answer she snatched the car keys from his hand, “I’ll teach you a lesson. Maybe you’ll see what it’s like to worry about someone.”

She had driven around for hours, then stopped by Walmart. They were the only store open at 2:00 am. Another hour of wandering up and down the aisles without a single thing in her cart brought her to her senses…well, that and the suspicious stares of the Walmart associates.

Her anger was spent and her weary body just wanted to go home and crash in her own bed.

The parking lot was empty except for a few employee cars and John’s Lexus. Ellen fumbled around in her purse for the keys, but came up empty.

“No”, she thought, “I didn’t.” but peering through the window at the keys dangling from the ignition confirmed her suspicions. Now what?

She noticed the back window was opened just an inch. Pushing with all her might, she managed to force it down about halfway. She stepped back to gauge the size of the opening and decided she could make it.

Throwing her purse onto the back seat, she dove in headfirst. It wasn’t until she found herself hanging half in and half out of the car and unable to budge in any direction that she realized how severely she had underestimated the size of her butt.

Her cell phone lay within her reach, but she could not bring herself to make the call.

“Hey, lady, what do you think you’re doing? You stealing that car?”

Mortification and a lack of breathing space prevented her from answering in more than a grunt.

“You stay right there…don’t move. I’m calling the cops.”

She heard the voice reporting her crime, heard him give them her license plate number, heard the sirens then heard the thinly veiled snickers of the first officers on the scene.

“This is my husband’s car. I’m not stealing it.” Ellen managed.

“Well, we’ll know soon enough,” said the officer, “The owner’s on his way.”

Moments later, she heard John’s voice.

.”Darlin’, why didn’t you call me?”

If I ever get out of this car…I’m gonna kill him!

(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

A Creative Friendship

I had so much fun today with my friend, Joy. We packed up our laptops...well, she packed up her laptop and I packed my new Dana and we headed off to Border's Bookstore.

After ordering a couple of chilled lattes, we headed to a quiet table in the back of the store in the section where they keep books on writing. We browsed through one and found a writing prompt that sparked both of our creative juices, then sat down to write.

The prompt was: Write about a five dollar bill that changes hands 5 times, what it was used for and how it changed the lives of those it went to.

Here's Joy's story:

$5 FRED --- A DAY IN THE LIFE…


Hi! I’m Freddie Fumph, a five dollar bill. Ouch! The cashier crumpled me
carelessly into this drawer.

This morning started out like many others --- I was sleeping calmly in the
wallet of an attorney named Nancy. I knew her name because I was right across from the window of her driver’s license. I was to be her morning Latte on the way to work.

She pulled through the drive-through of Seattle’s Best on Broadway and Fourth and placed her order. She promptly moved me into the hand of a blond-haired college junior and confidently said, “Keep the change dear.”

About three hours later, it was time for Kristy to get off work. She traded in
her pocket of change from the morning’s tips and grabbed me. We were off to class. I don’t know what we studied that morning, but we were there until afternoon.

On the way across campus, Kristy pulled me out and stuffed me in her pocket. I thought that she was going to take me to lunch. So did she!

As soon as we left the campus and crossed the street, Kristy was approached
by an unshaven, ill-kept man in a dirty blue suit. He asked if she had any change
she could give him for a meal. She thought a minute and then pulled me out and
handed me to the man in the blue suit. She smiled and said, “Have a good day, sir,” then hummed a tune as she sort of skipped away. I liked her!

The man seemed so thankful for me. He handled me gingerly almost like he
was giving me a massage to put me to sleep. He went into the grocery store down the street and picked up a can of soup, then got a spoon from the deli and kind of fumbled toward the check-out. I could see the eyes of the gentleman to whom I was given. He looked softly at the man, with a clouded look of compassion not at all like the lady behind the man looked. She had a look of utter disgust. I sure hope she doesn’t need a five dollar bill for her change!!!

I lay very still in the cash drawer. It was dark and I was imagining the rough
hands of the blue-suited gentleman massaging me to sleep.

Shift change must have happened sometime in the darkness. Next thing I
knew, I was being handed to a short Hispanic woman as part of her grocery change.

She was very thankful to have me. She had four little kiddos trailing along behind
her sort of like a parade of geese following their mother across the street. She was carrying me tightly in her hand like I was the best thing ever. I felt so very important and treasured. I belonged to a family now. Where would we go tomorrow?

What a day! I recounted my adventures and fell asleep on the dresser where I’d
been placed. It was dark --- I was happy --- life was good!

© 2009 Joy Books 1


And here's mine:

A Day in the Life of a $5.00 Bill


Larry methodically smoothed out the wrinkles in his $5.00 bill. He had been saving it in the secret pocket of his Lone Ranger wallet for sometime, but when he saw the Magic Kit at Mr. Beasley’s House of Fun, he just had to have it. Finally satisfied that it looked perfect, he slid the bill across the counter.

The cashier rolled her eyes and pushed the plastic bag containing his purchase across the counter.

"Here ya go, kid. Have a nice day."

Larry flashed her a big grin, "And you have a simply fabulous day, ma'am!"

He couldn't wait to get home and practice doing magic tricks. He chuckled as he thought about how he would drive his sister crazy wondering how he made things disappear.

In fact, he was so anxious to learn, that he sat down under a tree, opened the package, pulled out the instruction book and began to read about how to make a ball disappear in the magic box.

He had just about mastered the disappearing ball trick when a shadow passed in front of him.

"Whatcha doin', Larry?"

Larry looked up and squinted into the sun.

"Hey, Keri," he said, stashing the instruction book behind his back. He hadn't expected his little sister to show up.

"Oh, nothin' much, Keri," he said.. "Just practicing my magic skills."

"Magic? You can't do Magic," Keri said.

"Sure I can," said Larry, "See this ball? I can make it disappear!"

"Can not," said Keri.

Larry held up the ball. "Look at the ball closely"

He put the ball into the end of the box and waved his hands dramatically over, under and around the box. Then he said the magic words, "Fabulous is as fabulous does, the object is not where it was. Where it has gone, I can not say, but where it is now, it always must stay."

He opened the box and to his dismay, the ball was still in the box.

"Well, it worked in practice," he said, looking up at his sister.

But Keri was no longer standing on the sidewalk. Keri had disappeared!"
-----------------------------------------------
Mr. Beasley had already sent his cashier home and was just about to close up shop when the Western Union messenger arrived. He opened the cash register and took out a smooth 5.00 bill, handed it to the messenger for a tip and took the envelope with shaking hands. He had never received a telegram before.

Dear Mr. Beasley: Your great-aunt Mildred has passed. STOP You are her sole beneficiary. STOP Please come immediately. STOP James Wentworth, Esquire.

Bart could barely remember his Great Aunt from the one visit she had made to their home when he was a child, but he did remember his parents talking about the huge fortune she had made in dog food. He thought it quite funny that someone could become rich by selling her recipe for dog food to a big company, but it didn't seem so funny now...it seemed quite wonderful.

He purchased a ticket and boarded the train the next morning, headed for Blackmore. The trip took three days and by the time he stepped down from the train, his legs were shaky. He hired a driver and they headed for Aunt Mildred's estate.

He was shocked when they arrived to find that what he had inherited was not a huge fortune as he had anticipated, but 500 dogs that had been Aunt Mildred's prize possessions.
-----------------------------------------
Ralph slipped the 5.00 bill into his pocket and left the Mr. Beasley’s House of Fun. He was grateful for the tip. Raising 3 kids on a messenger’s salary was not easy. At least he would be able to get lunch today.

He pulled out the next telegram. Mrs. Kristi Barnes, 1034 S. Main Street. You might know his next step would be half-way across town. He decided to stop for a quick lunch.

The hot dogs at Circle K looked a little overcooked again today, but he didn't know anywhere else he could get two dogs, nachos and a Super-Gulp for 5.00.

He paid the clerk with the $5.00 bill Mr. Beasley had given him for a tip.

"Thanks Ralph," said the clerk, "See ya tomorrow!"

“Tomorrow, Delta,” Ralph said with a wave of the hand.
---------------------------------------------------
Delta picked up her paperback again and began reading. Getting lost in a romance novel was the perfect way to escape the boredom of a slow day at the convenience store.

"Fabio looked deeply into her smoldering gray eyes, pulled her close and..."

"I'll take 15.00 worth of regular on pump number 3".

Delta looked up from her novel, surprised to see a customer had slipped in unnoticed.

She took the 20.00 from the curly-haired blonde in the crazy rhinestone studded glasses and gave her 5.00 in change, then returned to the arms of Fabio.
----------------------------------------------------
Joy took the 5.00 bill and stuffed it into her wallet, more than a little miffed that the clerk had been so impersonal. She hadn't expected fan-fare when she bought gas, but she had expected to at least be acknowledged.

Her cell phone rang just as she pulled out into traffic.

"Hello?"

Keri's voice seemed far away and Joy had to strain to here it.

"Mom? I can't stay on the phone, but you must do something for me right away. I can't explain, but it's absolutely necessary for you to stop at the next ATM and deposit exactly 5.00 into your account."

"What? Keri, where are you? Why do I need to do that?" Joy asked.

Keri's voice was fading even more, "Mom, please, just do it" and then she was gone.

Joy shook her head. That girl, sometimes she just didn't make a lot of sense, but then that was what made Keri so fun and lovable.

She spotted a Wells Fargo on the next corner, pulled in and deposited the 5.00 dollars, all the time wondering why.

Retrieving her card and receipt from the machine, she turned and ran smack dab into Keri.

"What in the world are you doing here, Keri? How did you get here? Where have you been?

"Mom, you wouldn't believe me if I told you." Keri said. "Can we just go home? And mom, if Larry wants to show you any magic tricks...don't fall for it!"

(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)


I like Joy's better. Love the point of view being the $5 dollar bill and love the emotions she gives it.

Mine is a bit to long and disjointed, but we had so much fun writing together, I'm going to twist her arm to go again.

My New Toy!

I've been wanting an AlphaSmart Dana for several years. It's basically a wordprocessor. You can't do much of anything but write with it. Nothing to distract me...no internet, no Skype, no Facebook.

I finally scored one on Ebay this week and it came today. I sat watching TV with Lee this evening and typing away on the Dana at the same time. I was amazed that I could follow the TV program and still be thinking clearly enough to write the beginnings of a short story.

This handy little gadget weighs just 2 pounds and can run for 25 hours on a single battery charge and if you get in a pinch, you can pop in 3 AA batteries and keep right on going!

In November I'm going to participate in the Nanowrimo challenge. That's where you start writing a novel on November 1st and you must have 175 pages (50,000) words by November 30th to be a winner. Everyone who completes the required number of words is a winner!

I'll be using my Dana for that, but until then, I intend to do the whole "writer thing" and take my new toy to my favorite Border's Bookstore during the day, order a sugar-free hazelnut latte and look all cool while practicing to write the next great American novel....or my next blog entry!

(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Never Give Up!

The Holy Spirit dwells within every believer.

Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 1 Corinthians 6:19

In these two verses, the word "temple" is naos which means "holy of holies."

Just like the Spirit of God dwelled in the holy of holies in the temple of old, He dwells in us today.

We are now the holy of holies, the dwelling place of God upon the earth. When He moves to release power upon the earth, it doesn't have to shoot out of the sky somewhere - it comes from His people where His Spirit dwells upon the earth and it is released through prayer, through speaking the Word, through laying on of hands and through declarations and affirmations.

In John 7:38 Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.’”

The more times we pray for a particular person or need, the more we release those living waters, the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish His work.

Perseverance
Endurance
Persistence
Tenacity
Never Quit
Never Give Up!


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Adapted from Intercessory Prayer by Dutch Sheets. If you haven't read this book...you MUST! It will revolutionize your prayer life.

(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Poolside Miracle

I'm working on some small group bible studies inspired by the messages I hear at church on Sunday mornings. Here's one I wrote based on yesterdays message - Poolside Miracle:

Read John 5:1-17 (NIV)

The Healing at the Pool

"Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, "Do you want to get well?"

"Sir," the invalid replied, "I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me."

Then Jesus said to him, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk." At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, "It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat."

But he replied, "The man who made me well said to me, 'Pick up your mat and walk.' "

So they asked him, "Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?"

The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.

Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, "See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you." The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.

So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working."

This miracle took place at a pool called Bethesda. That name, “Bethesda” means – “house of mercy” or “flowing water”, a place for receiving and caring for the sick, the name of a pool near the sheep-gate at Jerusalem, the waters of which had curative powers.

The Pool of Bethesda was located near the Sheep-gate, so named because by that way the sacrificial lambs were brought to the Temple.

Surrounding the pool, were five immense covered colonnades, in which the sick, the blind, the crippled and the paralyzed had gathered.

1. What do you suppose the atmosphere of this place might have been?

Occasionally, an angel would stir the waters in the pool and the first one to enter would be healed.

2. How do you think the people acted when they saw the waters begin to stir?

3. How do you think they felt after seeing just one person healed?

It’s hard to imagine why God would stir the waters occasionally and then only heal one person. Perhaps His purpose wasn’t to bring healing to just one individual, but to use this as an illustration – a picture of what happens when people sense God stirring their hearts to come to Him and they take that step of faith into a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ, who is the Living Water.

4. How eager do you think these people were to be healed? To have their lives changed?

Those gathered around the pool recognized their physical infirmities. They were blind, crippled and paralyzed. And knew they needed a touch from God to be healed.

Often we fail to recognize our infirmities, but we are blinded, crippled and paralyzed by them just the same. How are we...

Blinded?

Crippled?

Paralyzed?

The man who received his miracle that day had suffered with his infirmity for 38 years.

5. What happens when a person has suffered for a long period of time?

Jesus asks this man, “Do you want to be well?”

This seems like a ridiculous question. Our first response is, “Of course, he wants to be well!” but Jesus is really probing a little deeper here.

Healing means change and change can be difficult for some people. Sometimes we have become so familiar with the situation, so tolerant of the pain and so depleted of hope that we need to ask ourselves if we really want to be healed.

6. Is there a situation in your life that is hard, but you have lived with it so long that you have just accepted it? Name that situation.

7. Do you want to be well?

The man answered with an implied yes, but then proceeded to tell Jesus why that would be impossible.

8. Are you feeling like this man felt? You want to be well, you want God to touch your life, but many reasons why that isn’t likely to happen pop into your head? What are some of the excuses that come to mind?

Jesus then told the man to stand up, pick up his mat and walk. What an incredible thing to do! To some it would appear insensitive; to ask a cripple to get up and do the impossible, but sometimes God asks us to take what seems to be an impossible step.

It was at the point of obedience that this man experienced his miracle. He heard the voice of Jesus command him to take a step of faith, he responded in faith and as he did, the mighty healing power of God flooded into his body and brought about the healing he had waited on for 38 years.

9. When you think about your need, is there an impossible first step you feel God asking you to take? If so, what is it?

It’s interesting to note that this healing took place on the Sabbath. According to Jewish tradition, this was not the right time, nor the right way to be healed. They were angry with Jesus for violating their religious rules.

So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." John 5:17

Those at the Pool of Bethesda had to wait for the occasional stirring of the water, but Jesus tells us that God is always at work…to this very day.

10. Do you want to be healed?

God is ready. In John 14:6, Jesus says,

…"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

God has provided your healing through faith (belief) in Jesus Christ. Today, He is stirring the waters. He wants to work in your life, but He will not barge in. He is waiting for you to make a move toward Him. He’s waiting for you to step into the waters, to invite Jesus in, to surrender you hurts, habits and hang-ups to Him so that He can begin to bring healing to your life.

11. Are you willing to place your faith in Christ and step into the water? Are you ready to take what might seem to be an impossible first step?

Most of the blind, crippled and paralyzed that surrounded the Pool of Bethesda had friends and family with them to help them into the waters when they were stirred. You have friends surrounding you right now in your small group, willing to help you take that first step toward Jesus.

If you’re ready to be healed, if you want Jesus to step into your life and change things, your friends want to help. Let them know right now that you are taking that step and ask them to pray with you.

12. Did you take that step? Have you invited Jesus to come into your life and circumstances?

The Bible says that later, Jesus found the man at the Temple and gave him further instructions.

Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, "See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you." John 5:14

This should be our intention – to live a life that pleases God, to stop sinning. In reality, we are imperfect and will never be completely free from sin, but God is concerned with the intentions of our hearts. We are to do our best to live a life that brings honor to God and demonstrates an attitude of gratitude for what He has done for us. When we fall short of that, we are to go to Him in repentance, seeking His forgiveness, then continue on with living a life that honors Him.

Refusing to do so will find us in a much worse place then we were before we experienced His work in our lives.

13. Is it your intention to live a life that honors God?

Your small group family is ready to help you do that. They are on the same journey – a journey of spiritual growth in Jesus Christ. We are here to encourage and assist one another as we do life together.

Small groups: Develop an atmosphere of mutual support and togetherness in your meetings. Make them a Bethesda a “house of mercy”, a safe place to share the struggles we all go through in life. We are the body of Christ, let’s display his love as we minister to one another in love.

(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

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I would love your feedback on this study. Did it benefit you personally? Do you think it would work well in a small group setting? Any suggestions for improvement? Please leave a comment with your thoughts on this study. Thanks!

The Death of the Spartan Seven

Truth or Dare – it’s a stupid game and why I had agreed to play it is beyond me. I could blame it on peer pressure, but that’s a crock. I’d never cared what others thought.

I’m not even sure how I wound up at a slumber party with the Spartan Seven, a chic clique of nauseating high-school fashionistas.

I’d never been part of that crowd…or any crowd, for that matter, but there I was, surrounded by cutesy girls in cutesy pajamas about to play the dumbest game ever invented.

Maybe it was the prospect of embarrassing the crud out of Jamie Lynn Walters or putting a few S.S. brats in their place that pulled me from the corner where I was sulking to the circle in the center of the floor. I don’t know, but it was about to get ugly.

Things started out pretty silly.

Did you ever…?
Would you ever…?
Have you ever…?

Blah, blah, blah.

A few answers, several dares and way too many giggles later, it was my turn. I looked directly at Jamie. I didn’t like her, never had. She was too perfect. Gorgeous hair, killer body, genius smarts and a great personality - yech.

Everyone liked Jamie Lynn. Everyone, including Jake, my next-door neighbor and best friend. Hanging out with Jake was the only decent part of my rotten life. At least it was until he fell head over heels for Jamie.

I’d heard the recent rumors. I knew they were lies, but I couldn’t resist.

“Jamie, truth or dare?” I asked.

Jamie Lynn giggled, “Truth, I guess.”

“Is it true that you had an abortion last year?” I challenged.

As soon as the words left my mouth I regretted them. Probably because I knew that Jamie Lynn would tell the truth. Any other person would lie through their teeth, but not Jamie.

While every girl in the room glared and wished me dead, Jamie lowered her head. Tears filled her eyes and dropped on her pretty pink pajamas.

Softly she said, “Yes, it’s true. I was raped while walking home from cheerleading practice. When I found out I was pregnant, my parents gave me no choice. They were afraid of what people would say and afraid of how it would mess up my life.”

“It was awful,” she continued, “and I can’t get it out of my mind. I killed a baby and I don’t know if God can ever forgive me.” Jamie sobbed.

The Spartan Seven closed ranks, surrounding Jamie in a soggy group hug that totally shut me out.

I said the only thing I could say – the one thing I swore that I would never say.

“Jamie, I’m sorry. I had an abortion, too and I know exactly how you feel.”

A collective gasp went up from the huddle. All eyes turned toward me and I wanted to throw up.

“Six months ago…only I wasn’t raped. I was just stupid and I thought it was the easy way out.”

Silence.

I continued, “It wasn’t easy, though. I thought I could just go on like it never happened, but I couldn’t. I was so ashamed, I quit going to church. I couldn’t sit there, knowing that God probably hated me for what I’d done.”

Jamie broke free from her cocoon, put her arms around me and for the first time in six months, I cried. We all cried and when our tears were spent, Sarah Matthews spoke up.

“The truth is that we’ve all made mistakes. We’ve all done things we’re ashamed of. We can’t change that, but isn’t that exactly why God sent Jesus? Isn’t that why Jesus died, to forgive sin?”

She paused. “So here’s the next dare, I dare us all to get real with each other and then get real with God.”

What followed was unbelievable. One by one, those girls I thought were so perfect began to share things that proved they were just like me. Young, confused and scared most of the time.

We talked, we cried, we hugged, and then we did something I had never done before with a group of girls. We knelt in a circle, held hands and asked God to forgive us.

The Spartan Seven no longer exists. It died the night we played Truth or Dare and in its place is a group of girls who will be friends for life…and I am a part of it all.

(Copyright © 2008 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)



I've been out of town, so I haven't had time to write the past couple of days. This is a short story I wrote a while ago and entered in a writing contest at FaithWriters.com. It was my first contest entry and took 3rd place in my category. The topic they gave us to write on was "Truth or Dare".

Rules Were Made to be Broken

Jill sat on the park bench, hidden in the shadows. A chill ran through her as she wrapped the sheer lace shawl tighter around her bare shoulders. This was not how she imagined her first prom date.

My dad is so mean! Every girl in my class is going to the freshmen prom. They’re being picked up at their door with their parents snapping pictures and waving goodbye, and I’m sitting here in Madison Park freezing to death waiting for a drive-by pick up - all because of Dad’s stupid “you can’t date until you’re 16” rule. This is so unfair! He’s so old fashioned.

Jill had been surprised when Mike to ask her to the prom. She didn’t know him well, but they had been talking for several weeks and he seemed like a really nice guy. She hoped tonight would be the start of something special.

She saw his pickup round the corner and stop under the street light. Jill dashed across the lawn and jumped in the passenger’s side, hoping no one was around to see her.

“Hey, you look great,” said Mike.

“Thanks. Sorry about the weird arrangements,” she said.

“No sweat, I got a jerk for an old man, too,” Mike said as he pulled away from the curb.

Jill wasn’t sure she liked him referring to her Dad as a jerk. He was a pretty nice guy most of the time, just real strict. Having a pastor for a Dad could really be a drag sometimes.

Mike shoved a plastic container across the seat at her.

“Here, my Mom got you a flower.”

“Uh, thanks,” Jill said as she opened the box and slipped the corsage on her wrist.

Well, that’s romantic, she thought. Something told her this was not going to be the fairy tale prom she had always dreamed of.

They pulled into the parking lot of the school and Mike turned off the truck, but he didn’t move to get out, instead he reached under the seat and pulled out a bottle of liquor.

“Let’s have a little grape punch before we go in,” he said, opening the bottle and passing it to her.

“I don’t drink, Mike. Can we just go in?”

Mike took a long drink on the bottle, capped it and stashed it back under the seat.

“What’s your hurry? Let’s get to know each other a little better first,” he said, sliding over close to her.

“Mike, I want to go in,” Jill said, reaching for the door handle.

Mike grabbed her wrist, crushing the corsage and put his other arm around her tight.

“Look, I didn’t’ put out all this money for nothing. How about you give me a little kiss?”

Jill wiggled free of his grip and before she even had time to think about what she was doing, she doubled up her right fist and let him have it right in the mouth.

“There’s your kiss, you jerk!” she said.

She left him sitting in the truck holding his mouth, blood running through his fingers and marched into the school, but instead of turning left toward the music and lights of the gym, she turned right toward the pay phone in the hall.

“Daddy, can you come and get me at the school? I’ll explain when you get here…and Daddy…I’ll wait until I’m sixteen to date…gladly!”

(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Summers in Arizona are hotter than...

I can hear the skin on the back of my thighs sizzle as they fry on the vinyl seat of my car.

Ah, summer in Phoenix, Arizona, 1982 - The Valley of the Sun, just a stone’s throw from the very pits of…well, nevermind.

Note to self: Do not wear shorts in the summer no matter how hot it gets.

Moving to Arizona seemed like a wonderful idea back in February. Waving goodbye to friends, family and snowstorms, we hit the highway in our little red Pinto Pony. We pulled a homemade trailer behind us loaded down with our stuff. The hand-carved rocking chair my husband had made out of wood pallets rescued from a chicken plant was strapped to the top of the pile just like the Beverly Hillbillies. His old canoe rode upside down on the hood of the Ford Pinto, sticking out beyond both front and back fenders. As a final gesture of red-neck determination, Lee had painted “Arizona or Bust” on the plywood sides of the trailer in drippy red paint.

Four days, 2000 miles and more than a few weird looks later, we found ourselves climbing out of the Verde Valley – or should I say crawling out of the Verde Valley. The road just kept going up and up and the Pinto just kept going slower and slower until it was nearly at a stand-still. My foot cramped and my leg ached from holding the gas pedal to the floor, as if pushing harder would make a difference. I had visions of the car stopping altogether and then careening down the mountain backward. Finally, we top the crest of the mountain, my heart started beating again and it was all downhill from there. We dropped into the Valley amid mountains, cactus and temps in the 70's...in February!

Summer comes early in Arizona. Soon the temps climbed above 100 and we learned many things through our first summer here.


  • An air conditioned car is a necessity, not a luxury – goodbye Pinto
  • Cold water does not flow from the cold water spigot in the summer in Arizona
  • Burritos are something you eat, not something you ride
  • Rivers seldom contain water
  • One does not go barefoot in the summer, the grass is so dry, it will slice your feet to bits and the sidewalk will give you third degree burns
  • That pool you thought would be so refreshing is like warm bathwater
  • Ice cream cones must be licked at break-neck speed or become a puddle in your hands
  • An hour of sun bathing leaves you extra crispy, not tanned
  • A lot of people go nude in the house to stay cool
  • A lot of people don't close their blinds
  • Oven mitts make great driving gloves
  • Any Christian who lives in Arizona in the summer is motivated to serve God out of love, not out of the fear of going to…well, nevermind.


(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)