Writing Exercise – June 2013 Jim Hilton



author       rebellious       draconian

Roma Victa

I am Tiberius Tuditanus, recently assigned to the frontier, and author of the dispatch describing the recent actions of the rebellious factions in Germania.  The Emperor has tasked me with rooting out all those who might have sympathies with the rebels, and draconian measures have been implemented.
My legions are even now ranging through the villages, taking prisoners, executing those who resist. We will have order; we will have the Pax Romana, whatever the cost. As the leaders are identified, they will be put in chains and sent to Rome to feed the insatiable maw of the games at the Colosseum.  Most of the others will be crucified in the center of their villages as examples. Because of the vast expanse of the forests here, more legions are en route to assist in this critical effort.
We have heard rumors of a great gathering of the clans, several leagues to the north.  Upon the arrival of reinforcements we will go see whether this be fact or fiction.  If indeed this gathering has occurred, we can at last meet the barbarians in a face-to-face battle, rather than chasing small groups of them through the woods.  In the event they choose to retreat inside fortifications we shall construct siege engines to take down their walls, then we can drag them out and deal with them.  I am alive with excitement at the prospect.  Who do they think they are, these barbarians?
I have ordered the strengthening of our own stockade, the better to resist any surprise attacks by these strange warriors.  Untrained and wild they may be, still they are fearless fighters and caution is always best. I do not wish to be called to Rome to explain why I suffered defeat at the hands of these woods dwellers.
I dream of the day when the insurrections have been put down and I can return to Rome in triumph, glorying in my triumphal march into the heart of the city.  I can almost smell the flower petals that will be strewn in the path of my chariot; I can feel the wine running down my face as I bask in my fame at the feast. Young maidens, food and wine without end, all this to be my due!
It is great to be a citizen of Rome, and to be honored as one of the defenders of her glory!

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Writing Assignment for June 2013 Kat French

 words to include: author draconian  rebellious
It all started with the housekeeping. 
I had been requesting, and not getting, help with the piles of laundry, dirty dishes and pet hair for months. Everyone had an excuse. Everyone thought they were too busy. So it kept falling on good old Mom. I had just scored a small freelance client in addition to my full time job. With a full time job and now a part-time freelance client, the housework seemed like it was that nagging time-suck keeping me from devoting any time at all to my dream of becoming an author
I couldn’t drop the full time job. My family depended on that income. But the freelance job would easily cover having a housekeeper come in a few times a week. The budget for my primary income was pretty draconian, but the freelance money was entirely extra. I knew if anyone knew about that money, there would be a knockdown brawl for who needed it worst. The person least likely to see any of it was me.   
Because our schedules were so crazy, there were plenty of times during the week when nobody was home for a few hours. So I scheduled the maid service for  those times, and left explicit instructions that if they ever happened to come by while someone was home, skip that day and come back on an alternate day. 
It worked like magic. I felt positively rebellious. The housework got done. I got a few hours a week to work on my novel. And no one was any the wiser. 
Over the years, I’ve often looked back and wondered what would have happened if my family had been willing to help out with the housework. If they had, I wouldn’t have felt like I had to hide it from them when my novel got an agent, and then a publishing contract. I might have let them know when my nom de plume started earning considerably more than my real name. 
It’s true, they all managed to get out of doing dishes and laundry over these past few years. But they also missed out on being invited to Barbados with me this week. 

They think I’m having gall bladder surgery. My virtual assistant says the flowers they ordered are lovely.


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For May 2013 Jim Hilton


Words to include:

caramel binder Stonehenge


I don’t remember the exact details, but somehow we wound up with London Bridge over here in Arizona.  Maybe the damp climate was deteriorating the stone so they looked for someplace just a bit drier, and hit upon Arizona. I suppose they could have put it over in the Sahara Desert, you know, whatever it takes to save a bridge.

The upshot of this is that we are now siphoning off some of the tourist dollars in Lake Havasu City that would otherwise be spent in getting all those folks over to England, with that particular bridge being such a big attraction and all.  I don’t know exactly where that bridge ranked on the list; was it above Big Ben, you think, or was it way on down there below that Windsor Castle place?

So, anyway, I was thinking maybe we could do a little negotiating and get a few more of those British things over here and save the world even more fuel and money.  Wouldn’t that be neat if all those thousands of tourists who go to see Stonehenge every year, in England, could just change their plans a bit and go see it in its new home, in Nebraska?  I’m sure we’d have no problem transporting those big stones, I mean they did it four thousand years ago without the help of Caterpillar, surely we can do it in our modern times with all that equipment we now have.

And, of course, it would be slick to go to downtown Indianapolis to see the Roman baths, you know, the ones that have been, up to now, over in that city actually called Bath.  I think Mayflower Moving and Storage could get all those stones numbered and wrapped up to get them sent over here with no problem a’tall.  I’m sure the tourist industry would be getting a huge lift out of all this, with sales of touristy foods like caramel apples and turkey legs just going right through the roof.

I made up a binder with all the attractions listed, and maybe I’ll go present it at the United Nations, or maybe at the Yum Center in Louisville, wherever it’d do the most good.  I think after the folks at the top, who’d really understand the bottom line on this, would be gung-ho to get the ball rolling and we’d see some action in the pretty near future.

Can’t you see it now?  We’d have Westminster Abbey moved to the square in Corydon, Indiana, and maybe we could also bring over most of the monuments and things from Trafalgar Square, including Lord Nelson’s Column and maybe put all that junk in Dodge City, Kansas.  All that dry air out there should be just perfect for preserving all those stone things that are just naturally rotting in that damp London air.  Why, we’d be doing them a favor.

It’s the perfect solution, don’t you see?  We could pretty much retire all those monstrously big passenger jets that are now flying the Atlantic because they just wouldn’t be needed anymore.  And with all that fuel money being saved maybe we could get some relief on our income taxes.

This all makes perfect sense to me, how ‘bout you?

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For April T. Lee Harris

TLee1000Avi Rosenberg shouldered past the group of soldiers — likely fresh from Vietnam — milling just inside the entrance to Chicago’s Midway airport. Perhaps shouldered was an incorrect term. Though just sixteen, Avi towered a full head and shoulders above everyone else in the crowd.

Checking the gate numbers against his ticket, he took a seat in the rank of molded plastic chairs ubiquitous to airports everywhere. A few more uniforms passed him carrying Styrofoam coffee cups and fast food bags, probably catching up to the group at the door. He didn’t envy them. He also didn’t blame them for hesitating at the exit. Before he passed the servicemen, he’d passed a small, but vocal group of anti-war protesters. A man in uniform passing though those doors was not going to receive a comfortable welcome.

Truthfully, he felt sorry for them. Sure, he was against the war, but most of those guys never asked to be sent and very few actually volunteered for the Army. He frowned. If the war continued a few more years, would he be called up? What would he do if he was? The question might be a moot. After all, his dad told him just that morning that the Senate was discussing legislation to end US involvement.

No use worrying about something that hasn’t happened, he thought, pulling a three-ring binder from his backpack. The archaeological dig he was headed to in Georgia was of more immediate concern. Shell middens were notoriously complex and difficult to excavate properly. He was extremely lucky to have won a place on the student team and the last thing he wanted to do was screw up by going into the dig blind.

He’d barely read the first page when someone slid into the seat next to him. “Fascinating plot, but it’ll never make it to the big screen.”

“Huh?” Avi looked up to find his long-time friend, Victor Pale, grinning at him. The two had grown up together, and until the murder of Vic’s parents and older sister had placed him in his uncle’s custody, they’d been inseparable — or as Avi’s mother observed, “Joined at the hip.”

“You didn’t think I’d let you go off to the wilds of Deepest, Darkest Georgia without saying goodbye, did you?”

“I’m glad you didn’t. Mom and Dad had exams to give today. Esther dropped me off on her way to work. Everyone else has school, so I figured I’d be here by myself.”

“Wondered where everyone was.”

“It’s only a four week dig.” He shrugged. “Not all that different from Summer Camp, I suppose.”

“Yes it is!” His friend. “This is your first real archaeological gig, man! How could it not be important to the guy who built Stonehenge out of Twinkies for a third grade science project?”

“I’d forgotten about that,” Avi laughed. “Nostalgia aside, how are you doing? I heard you joined a band?”

Victor nodded happily. “The Wolfpack. Great bunch of musicians! We got our first club gig coming up Saturday.”

After a pause, Avi asked, “They do know you’re only sixteen, right?”

“Weeelllll, the band knows, but I expect Hattie kind of glossed over that fact to the club manager.”

“Somehow that doesn’t surprise me. Where is she? You guys have been pretty close since you met.”

“She’s busking outside the terminal.” Vic squirmed in his chair, then pointed at a window. “There! I give you Hurricane Hattie Harper!”

On the other side of the glass, a young woman stood slightly out of the pedestrian flow, playing a guitar with the case open on the sidewalk in front of her. She danced as she played, tossing her wild cascade of long, wavy, caramel-colored hair.

After a moment, Avi said, “Okay, I understand where ‘Hurricane’ comes from now.”

Vic laughed. “Nah, that’s just a minor squall. You should see her in front of a club audience.”

The PA announcements, which had previously been background noise, prodded Avi’s attention. He paused and listened more carefully.

“That your flight?” Victor asked.

“Yeah.” He stood to collect his bags.

Vic rose to help him. “You better boogie, then.”

Everything collected, Avi straightened. “I’m glad you came. I was afraid it would be a while before we saw each other again.”

“Not a chance!”

The PA called again.

“MOVE, man!” Vic said with a good-natured push.

Grinning, Avi joined the stream of humanity flowing toward the boarding gate.

“Good luck with the ancient garbage heap,” his friend called after him.

Turning, he called back, “Thanks! Good luck with the sonic assaults, too.” With a final wave, he hurried to catch his flight.

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Writing Assignment for January 2013 – Kaitlyn Morgan

Princess Maeve
Katie Morgan

“Grandfather, will you plead me the story of Princess *Maeve again? It’s my favorite
fairytale ever! It’s not like the regular fairytales, it’s different!” Everlee looked eagerly at
grandfather with hope shining out of her young, eager eyes. How could he possibly say
no to that face?
“Of course Everlee. Go get ready for bed and I will meet you in there once I retrieve
the book. Grandfather was sitting in a chair by the bed when Everlee came back from
brushing her teeth and dressing in her pajamas.
“Alright Everlee, are you ready now?” Asked Grandfather while tucking her in. She
nodded her head enthusiastically while repetitively saying “yes!!”.
“Well then, let’s begin:
Once Upon a Time there was an
awful princess named Maeve. Her mother had died long ago, so her father had since
moved on and remarried. Now, contrary to popular fairytale belief not every step-mother
was evil and not every step-daughter was pure and innocent. Princess Maeve was lazy,
not really caring what she did or said or even who she hurt or angered while doing it. The
people in the kingdom began to truly hate Princess Maeve more than any other princess
in history.
One day while walking down the hall after her afternoon tea Princess Maeve
suddenly fell to the floor in a heap of tangled fabric. Her step-mother, the Queen, ran to
Maeve thinking her dead, but was surprised to find her alive. Maeve was not dead, just in
a very deep, unnatural, sleep. The kind of sleep that only the kiss of Maeve’s one true
love could break.

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Writing Exercise for March 2013 – Jim Hilton

Words to include in this exercise: atmosphere bamboo tank kaleidoscope


Jim2010a   I was walking downtown, on our main street.  You know the one; it’s just a line of endless vanilla stores lining both sides.  You stroll along, looking into the occasional window, halfway hoping to see something interesting, but it rarely happens.

So, I was kinda bored at the apartment, just me and the walls, nothing on tv, nothing compelling in my reading stack, so I figured I’d give it another go.  I tried something new this time; I walked along, eyes straight ahead, counting.  When I had counted one thousand steps or so, I looked into the nearest shop window.  Well, crap!  Appliances, furniture, once in awhile a book store, but they only had regular books, nothing special.  It would be neat to come across a book something like “The Neverending Story”, but that was only in movies, right?  Another thousand steps, auto parts, a thousand more, stationery.

Well, I was burning up time, but that really wasn’t my goal.  I wanted to find something of interest, something new.  Or, to pursue the quest posed by Robert Pirsig, in “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” – “What is good?”  Well, I wasn’t doing very well on either front.

Ok, time for a different plan: I would tightly close my eyes, then open them to very small slits, just enough to navigate, and walk along somewhat aimlessly, turning the occasional corner, not really taking note of where I was, trying side streets, hoping not to get mugged in the process.  There must be storefronts containing whatever it was I wanted, somewhere.

Something made me stop and open my eyes to see the storefront on my left.  Can something of interest have its own gravity, its own pull of attraction?  I turned, fully facing the shop.  In the display window were a number of strange devices, seemingly constructed of tiny gears, pulleys and wheels.  Some of them were in motion, with levers going up and down, cables hoisting small dump cars up the side to dump out a marble which then rolled down a track to the bottom.  One construction had tiny lights within it, and some kind of smoke generator emitting puffs of smoke out the side as the wheels revolved.

The sign on the glass door said, “Hours 9AM until Tired”.  I tested the door – it opened easily and quietly, allowing me to step inside.  My first impression was that of a magic shop, or a gypsy supply store.  One shelf had a variety of kaleidoscopes, another had bumbershoots with bamboo handles.  The overall atmosphere of the store seemed strange, like I had entered a dusty remnant of another day and time; if air can seem old, then that’s the best descriptor.  There was a haze, or mist, possibly coming from one of the devices on the counter in front of me; it had a small tank with an electric heater on the bottom, and vapors were escaping out the top.

I called out, “Hello, is anyone here?”  No reply.  There was a bell on the counter, an old-fashioned kind with a wooden handle attached.  I rang the bell repeatedly, to no effect.

I went outside and crossed the street to look back and see if there was any sign of life in any of the upper row of windows.  All the windows were dark, no hope there.  I stepped to the corner, looked back down the main street to see if there might be an alternate entrance, but nothing seemed promising.

I turned back, walked the half-block to the curious shop, but could not locate it.  The place where I had just been looking in the window was now a pet store.  Well, maybe I had not walked far enough. I went further, then further, nothing.

I retraced my steps to the pet store, intending to ask the owner for help.  I got to the pet store, but then discovered it to be a beauty shop.  I went into the beauty shop, but found no one there.  There was a long glass counter with an old-fashioned bell and a wooden handle.  I decided not to ring it.

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Writing Exercise for March 2013 – Phyllis Patterson

‘atmosphere’, ‘bamboo’, ‘tank’, and ‘kaleidoscope

For March 2013


As I hurtle out of control through the thin atmosphere in my tank of a ship, I close my eyes to shut out the spinning kaleidoscope that is the scene outside my viewer. “Why am I doing this?” I mutter to myself. When no viable answer is forthcoming I chide myself for my over-eagerness to always be the first to volunteer for these dangerous missions.

Oh, I remember how gung-ho I was when the Commander posted the assignment. I recall how my heart pounded as I read the exciting words:






My heart is pounding now, but it is not due to excited anticipation, but rather only abject terror.

The thought of my nickname “Ever Ready” causes me to chuckle hysterically. My flying mates would have a good laugh if they could see me now. Shaking uncontrollably with eyes squeezed shut and tears of terror streaming down my face.

Suddenly, the spinning halts and I venture a peek. My ship is gliding silently through pitch-black space. A glance at the bank of gauges reveals nothing of my location. “Where the Heck am I?” I ask myself. Once again, I fail to provide a viable answer and am annoyed at myself for continually asking questions that I cannot answer.

The food dispenser unexpectedly whirs to life and spits out a bowl of stir-fry vegetables. Well, what passes for stir-fry vegetables aboard a military flying machine. I look at the unappetizing heap of grayish mush and can only accurately identify the bamboo shoots. Why I am being served a meal at this precarious moment, I cannot fathom. I push the contents down the food disposal unit and watch queasily as it floats past my viewer.

The distraction of the drifting rations momentarily takes my mind off my predicament. When I refocus my attention beyond the hovering vittles I am shocked to see that I am no longer surrounded by blackness. A bright beam of light assaults my eyes and I press my hands over them for protection.

I hear my mother’s voice loud and clear. “Come On, Sleepyhead! You are going to be late for school!”

When I remove my hands and open my eyes I am aware that I am in my own bunk bed and my sister is in the bunk below me. My mother is pulling the bedcovers away from me and I realize that I have a wonderful dream to tell during “sharing” with my fourth-grade class.

Phyllis Patterson/AKA PM Smith

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