Teachers Write 8.1.17 Tuesday Quick-Write with Leah Henderson

Good morning! Our guest for today’s Tuesday Quick-Write is brilliant debut author Leah Henderson. Leah has always loved getting lost in stories. When she is not scribbling down her characters’ adventures, she is off on her own, exploring new spaces and places around the world. She received her MFA at Spalding University and currently calls Washington D.C. home, but you can always find her on Twitter @LeahsMark or at her website: leahhendersonbooks.com.

Tuesday Quick-Write

Setting the Scene: Do more than just see it

First: Choose either a listed prompt and complete it, one of the images provided or a moment from your own work.

A gleaming _______________

An antique _______________

A secret __________________

A pale ____________________

A magical ________________

A suspicious _____________

An abandoned ___________

A broken _________________

A wondrous ______________

A forgotten _______________

A new _____________________

A hidden __________________

Then, once you have a snapshot in your mind, describe it using at least two or three of your senses other than sight. Hear it, taste it, touch it, or smell the scene to bring it to life.

Happy writing!

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69 Comments

  1. Posted August 1, 2017 at 2:56 am | Permalink

    Leah, It is so great to see you here at Teachers Write!
    I love your ideas on how to make our scenes more active which will bring our readers closer to our characters. You have clearly done this with Mor in your book, One Shadow on the Wall. It is my new favorite!

    Thank you so much,
    Carol Zink

    • Posted August 1, 2017 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      Thank you so much, Carol. That is really sweet of you to say. I hope today’s quick-write gives you some ideas for your on writing as well.

  2. Posted August 1, 2017 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    Leah! It’s been so fun to see One Shadow on the Wall succeed. I’m so happy for you…and even happier for the story! Thanks for dropping in today. I hope you will let us know what’s coming up for you in the future? Fingers crossed that there are more works in the pub pipeline.
    Since I’m working on a historical piece…I will take “an antique. Off to write. Hugs to you!

    • Posted August 1, 2017 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      Thank you, Linda! I will definitely keep you posted.

      And please come back and share what you come up with. There are so many wonderful sentences that can come out of “an antique”. 🙂

  3. Posted August 1, 2017 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    I bought One Shadow on the Wall after reading Kirby Larson’s glowing recommendation. Looking forward to reading it.
    Here’s my morning quick write: Thanks!

    The tree in her front yard
    canopied to hide
    a secret space
    just big enough
    for the two of us.
    We sit crossed legs
    with knees touching.
    The musty scent
    reminds me of grandmother’s basement,
    earthy and damp.
    If I could taste this tree,
    it would taste of turnip greens
    boiled long and slow in a broth
    of ham hocks and onions.
    We feel safe here,
    away from the traffic on the street,
    the annoying screams of brothers.
    Two best friends,
    knee to knee,
    heart to heart.

    • Posted August 1, 2017 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

      Thank you so much, Margaret. I truly hope it lives up to Kirby’s (much appreciated) recommendation.

      Not sure how I missed your post the first time around, but I did comment on it down below. Thanks for sharing.

    • Posted August 2, 2017 at 12:05 am | Permalink

      Margaret, your economical use of words fills our senses with this sweet moment between friends. Lovely!

  4. Diana Murrell
    Posted August 1, 2017 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much for your ideas today Leah! I used your idea to work on a paragraph from one of my stories:

    Nellie hadn’t slept in her bed since she had gone to the school a few years back. She got under the covers, her legs sliding between the worn grey sheets, the blankets hugging her close as she settled in. She closed her eyes to sleep, listening to the sound of her Ah-book-kw (Mama) ’s quiet voice as she sang and finished repairing the Eulachon net. She heard the sounds of the forest too, the branches of the cedars gently caressing each other. The air was fresh here, slightly shaded with woodsmoke and dust. She slept well that night. Her body remembered this, her home.

    • Posted August 1, 2017 at 8:31 am | Permalink

      Diana, I love the way you used smell and sound here, and the last line is so poetic.

    • Posted August 1, 2017 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      I love this, Diana. I truly feel apart of this scene. The sounds and smells stay with me. I hope you continue pulling on those senses as you keep building your scenes. Awesome! And thanks for sharing.

    • Posted August 1, 2017 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      Diana-
      I really loved this part: The air was fresh here, slightly shaded with woodsmoke and dust. She slept well that night. Her body remembered this, her home.

      Woodsmoke and dust and fresh air, sounds like a perfect night’s sleep. I also connect so strongly with her body remembering the feeling. Well done!

    • Posted August 1, 2017 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      Diana, your writing makes us happy for Nellie to be safe at home, hugged by the worn sheets and all the sights, sounds and smells that makes it home. You told a lot in one paragraph. Thanks for the great example.

  5. Posted August 1, 2017 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    I chose the last picture to write about. I enjoyed this as a way to start my morning.

    Breanna slowed her pace for her sister Ami. It was nice having her come along on her morning jog. The coolness of the shade under the bleachers was in stark contrast to the warmth of the sun. The gritty dust, stirred up as they ran, stuck to their sweaty skin. She smiled at her younger sister’s small staccato steps, in between the rhythmic slaps of her own shoes. Some days it was tough having a sister follow you around, getting in your way. This morning was different. Breanna loved sharing the flow of nature with her sister as they ran side by side breathing in the fragrant air.

    • Posted August 1, 2017 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      There is so much to like about this quick-write, Sandra. You are already introducing so many layers. I love the line, “She smiled at her younger sister’s small staccato steps, in between the rhythmic slaps of her own shoes.”

      Thank you for sharing this!

    • Posted August 1, 2017 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      Sandra, my favorite line is “young sister’s small staccato steps” followed up by having a sister follow you around. It really drew me in to your image.

    • Posted August 1, 2017 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      Hi Sandra, I really liked the idea of how a new day can bring a new perspective on something. I wonder if it’s a new beginning for this character’s relationship with her sister.

    • Posted August 1, 2017 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      I like the way you worked this in as a paragraph of your story, Sandra. I’m still trying to figure out how to do that! I’m learning so much from reading others’ work in Teachers Write. Thank you for sharing. I like that Breanna is a patient big sister. Lovely scene you created here. The dust sticking to their sweaty skin is an image I can feel and it makes me shiver!

  6. Posted August 1, 2017 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Leah, this is such a nice prompt today. I feel like I was taken right back to so many snapshots in my life as I read your prompts. It’s just what I needed to remind myself what it means to describe a setting. Thank you so much.

    “A wondrous…” was the one I chose. It took me back to when we lived in Phoenix. This time of year we waited for the monsoon rains. They are late this year, so I was thinking of my daughters 20 years ago and my friends in AZ today.

    A wondrous puddle is hidden in the Bermuda grass most of the year. Who would have thought there was magic in that small section of yard? The bald patch has the diameter of a small kiddy pool, but the comparison ends there. There is nothing tame about this piece of earth.

    Unfortunately, Mom never let them flood it with the hose. Otherwise they could have enjoyed mud baths all summer long, mud baths that were simultaneously exhilarating and restful. Mud baths that put grit in their teeth, long-lasting cakes under their fingernails, and the smell of magic in their nostrils. Instead, these girls were forced to pray for rain.

    On this day, monsoon winds come. Dust is in the air. Finally, raindrops the size of 50-cent pieces land on the deck around the pool and on the back porch. And, yes! They are noticeable even in the sticky caliche soil near the orange tree. The girls watch from the French door windows, willing the drops to keep falling. Please not another false rain alert is their unarticulated prayer. So often the muddy drops end up just a vain attempt to wash the dirt out of the sky, teasing with the petrichor that they could feel and smell even in the house. Most of the time in Phoenix, the summer rains stop not only before they clean up the air, but well before they make the sidewalks wet or muddy the hopeful spot in the yard.

    This time, though, it’s different. The magic is working. Not just pitter patter. These drops are thunk thunking on the roof, ping ping pinging on the tin cover of the A/C unit like machine gun fire. These drops are quietly invading the dry soil around the orange tree. It is a real monsoon rain. Finally. The season came late this year, but today rain will win the battle for the wondrous mud puddle.

    • Posted August 1, 2017 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      Denise this is so vivid! I love the description of the rain when it actually comes. I was cheering it on myself! I learned a new word too – petrichor. I also like the idea of a wondrous puddle…and also maybe a hidden puddle? 🙂

      Well done!

    • Posted August 1, 2017 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      A wondrous puddle indeed! This is a really interesting piece. You really captured the feeling of a place that is very different from where I live.

      • Posted August 1, 2017 at 11:44 am | Permalink

        Thanks, Megan and Andrea. I appreciate your reading and responding.

    • Posted August 1, 2017 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      I really enjoyed this piece, Denise. I could feel the splotches of rain, and so wanted to stomp around in “a wondrous puddle”! And I love the idea of it being “hidden in the Bermuda grass”.

      Thanks so much for sharing.

      • Posted August 2, 2017 at 12:09 am | Permalink

        Thank you, Leah, for your great prompt and sweet comments.

    • Kay Berry
      Posted August 1, 2017 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

      Denise,

      I visited Arizona many times while growing up because my aunt and uncle lived there. Great descriptions. I remember my brother and I thought the Bermuda grass was so weird because we grew up with lush cool grass. The smell of magic in their nostrils! Nice.

      • Posted August 2, 2017 at 12:10 am | Permalink

        Yes, Kay, Bermuda grass is weird. I could spend some time describing that too. Another prompt for another day. Thanks!

    • Andy Starowicz
      Posted August 1, 2017 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      Hi Denise,

      I have to write that I LOVED your comments on everyone else’s writing as much as I loved your writing. All of it made me smile.

      “Please not another false rain alert is their unarticulated prayer.” AND “The season came late this year, but today rain will win the battle for the wondrous mud puddle.” These two lines are beautiful. The vivid description of the setting sets the mood of the piece. Hooray for rain! Glorious rain! You nailed it. Thank you for sharing your snippet.

      Happy writing!

      • Posted August 2, 2017 at 12:11 am | Permalink

        Oh, Andy, thank you for your kind comments. I hope you are having a good week, and good job making getting here today to write and comment!

  7. Posted August 1, 2017 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    I used the prompt “A forgotten…” and filled it in with postcard. I wrote a scene from my WIP. Trying something out for a possible breakthrough in finding Gram. Not sure where this will go but this was helpful to get ideas flowing!

    A forgotten postcard.

    Alice shot up in bed. The humid air stuck to every part of her, wrapping her body in thick air. She had been sweating from the humidity, hair stuck to the back of her neck, but also from her dream. The air was pea soup and so was Alice’s brain. As she started to think clearly she noticed there wasn’t a sound. Not even the crickets tonight. It was as if everything, the crickets, the grass, the air, was holding its breath waiting for Alice to wake up and remember.

    The postcard. On her Gram’s desk. Detroit.

    The silence was suddenly filled with the booming of Alice’s heart. She had to get to Gram’s house right away. Her head felt heavy as she started to put the pieces together. Alice, cat like, leapt down from the top bunk, landing quietly as she had practiced a million times. She placed each foot carefully on the floor so she wouldn’t wake up Miles, fast asleep on the bottom bunk.

    Front door? Window? Window. They always kept the window wide open, no screens, on humid nights like this. Alice decided shoes were too loud so she slipped out the window and landed on the slick, dewy grass. Humid air in the early morning is exactly like pea soup, Alice thought. If she couldn’t feel the tiny pebbles in the driveway pinching at her feet, she would have to be convinced this wasn’t actually a dream.

    Please let it be there, as Alice pushed off on her bicycle.

    • Posted August 1, 2017 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      Oh, this is so exciting! I want to know if Alice finds the postcard. One thing I wondered is if Alice’s head would feel heavy as she thinks about it…I’m not sure because she’s excited. I like the way she jumps down and sneaks around. Lots of tension in this piece!

    • Posted August 1, 2017 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      Megan, I hope this is the breakthrough Alice need to find Gram. I hope she finds the postcard right where she thinks she saw it, but what if it’s not there? So many great images and thoughts in this piece. Thanks for sharing. I hope this piece helps you in your WIP.

    • Posted August 1, 2017 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      Oh, I so want to know more. That postcard will be locked in my head all day! I hope you continue with this thread of story and that it helps strengthen your WIP. I am definitely intrigued. And agree with Denise, what if it isn’t there?

      So much you could do with this. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Andy Starowicz
      Posted August 1, 2017 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      Well done, Megan!

      The tension is awesome. Your description is so vivid and the details really hook the reader. I hope that she finds the postcard.

      “Alice decided shoes were too loud so she slipped out the window and landed on the slick, dewy grass. Humid air in the early morning is exactly like pea soup, Alice thought.” Wow! I love this line.

      Thank you for sharing. Happy writing!

      • Posted August 2, 2017 at 9:01 am | Permalink

        Thanks so much everyone! I love reading everyone’s comments and snippets! Great support on this team!

  8. Posted August 1, 2017 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this prompt! What a great writing warm up. Here’s part of a scene I wrote for my novel:

    Dad led me to the garden and showed me the hole beside the little tomato plant. The plant flopped on the ground. A broken branch lay limp on the soil, with shriveled yellow flowers that would never turn into tomatoes.

    I dropped to the ground and pushed at the earth to cover the white threads of roots. “It says in the dog book that some anxious dogs like to dig.”

    Dad muttered something under his breath and shoveled more dirt around it. “We’ll have to teach her to stay out of the garden. That’s something you can work on when you’re training her.”

    “It’s probably hard to train a dog not to dig unless you’re an experienced dog trainer,” I said.

    That was NOT what Dad wanted to hear. He let out a giant huff. The spade crunched into the soil as I hurried back to the house.
    I couldn’t wait to tell Shadowboy that Mission Dig-It-Up was a success.

    • Posted August 1, 2017 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      Andrea, this is great! You’ve put lots of pictures in my head. I can see the broken branch of the tomato plant, the MC burying the roots, and Dad with his spade being annoyed. I especially love the ending, that this was a planned digging. Sweet! Keep up the great writing.

    • Andy Starowicz
      Posted August 1, 2017 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      Great job, Andrea!

      The vivid description helps the reader visualize the story. It also helps to bring the characters to life. “That was NOT what Dad wanted to hear. He let out a giant huff. The spade crunched into the soil as I hurried back to the house.” – I can picture the dad so clearly (totally annoyed:).

      Thank you for sharing.
      Happy writing!

    • Posted August 1, 2017 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

      First off, I am so curious about Shadowboy. What a great name. It has me thinking so many different things. I also love learning that there was a plan–“Mission Dig-It-Up” is perfect. You’ve created a very vivid scene here, Andrea. Thanks for sharing it.

  9. Maureen Morrison
    Posted August 1, 2017 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Thank you for your time Leah. I grabbed a copy of One Shadow on the Wall for myself today, and hope my school buys me more in September. My ESL students enjoy reading books that take place outside of the U.S. My excerpt is from a chapter/MG book I have been playing around with this summer. Today’s prompt helped me get to the conflict.

    Bean blinked back shock and tears at the blurry sight of her two best friends at the beach. What happened to being sick, Bree? She stared at the picture on Instapic in disbelief. There had to be a mistake. How could Bree cancel the beach day, then go anyway, AND post it? The smiles made Bean question everything she was as a friend. She felt betrayed, lonely, and sad. She knew there was an explanation but it didn’t change the heavy feeling in her heart. She would ask for answers later. For now, she needed to feel broken.

    • Posted August 1, 2017 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      Oh, poor Bean. This is a tough situation for her. There had to be a mistake. I’m hoping it really is a mistake. I want to read more.

    • Posted August 1, 2017 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      Aww, I completely feel for Bean. In this short passage, you have said so much. I would certainly keep reading if there were more. And yes, you have definitely gotten to some conflict!

      Also, thank you so much for grabbing a copy of ONE SHADOW ON THE WALL, I truly hope you enjoy reading it, and that your ESL students have the opportunity as well (I’d love to know what they think).

  10. Kay Berry
    Posted August 1, 2017 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for the prompt, and your book sounds interesting. I will have to read it. I picked “A pale….. My MC is based on our own experience with adoption. We adopted two children from Tonga with our daughter being almost four. She is collaborating on this project with me, and it has been so rewarding and healing.

    A pale angel. Grandma unwrapped her ceramic nativity one by one. White robes, white wings. Grandma wiped them all and gave them a good shine.
    “Grandma, all of your nativity is white,” Samena says. She wonders Is God white? Is Christ white? Are all angels white?
    “Angels are whatever you want them to be,” says Grandma.
    “But all angels have blue eyes and blond hair,” Samena says.
    Back at home, Samena gazes at her Christmas tree. On one of the top branches, there is a white angel, and down further is a brown angel. Her aunt had given her the applicable brown/black angel as a gift a few years back. Samena remembers when she was five; she asked her mother when she would turn white. Her mother said “Why do you want to be white, you have beautiful brown skin.” She had tried to scrape off her brown skin with a metal spatula from the kitchen, but nothing happened except for a purple bruise.
    (Sorry if my tenses are not right, I just wrote this today, and I need to definitely edit!!) Thank you again.

    • Posted August 1, 2017 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

      Kay, nice job. It was a good prompt for you today. I like the snippet of life that deals with a huge issue while dealing with Christmas decorations. I especially like your reason for writing this book, and that it is rewarding and healing to work on it with your daughter. I can’t think of any better reason to write a book! Many blessings to you and your daughter and to Samena’s story.

    • Posted August 1, 2017 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for sharing, Kay. I love that you are exploring your writing with your daughter. I’m sure it is something she won’t soon forget. And stories like this are a reminder of why it is so vital that all children see themselves depicted in books. I hope wonderful things will happen for that brown-skinned angel as you and your daughter continue on this story’s journey.

  11. Posted August 1, 2017 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    I’m not seeing my post from earlier this morning. I did save my writing, thank goodness, so here it is again. I hope it doesn’t turn up twice.

    The tree in her front yard
    canopied
    a secret space
    just big enough
    for the two of us.
    We sit crossed legs
    with knees touching.
    The musty scent
    reminds me of grandmother’s basement,
    earthy and damp.
    If I could taste this tree,
    it would taste of turnip greens
    boiled long and slow in the broth
    of ham hacks and onions.
    We feel safe here,
    away from the traffic on the street,
    the annoying screams of brothers,
    two best friends,
    knee to knee,
    heart to heart.

    • Jennifer Hernandez
      Posted August 1, 2017 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

      This is lovely, Margaret! You’ve really captured a lot of sensory detail. I especially like “grandmother’s basement”, “turnip greens/ boiled long and slow in the broth/ of ham hocks and onions” and “annoying screams of brothers”.

    • Posted August 1, 2017 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

      I really enjoyed the bond you are creating here through your word choices. I especially like: “it would taste of turnip greens/ boiled long and slow in the broth/ of ham hacks and onions.” And “knee to knee” really speaks to their friendship. Nicely done.

  12. Posted August 1, 2017 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    This is a flashback in a YA novel. Alisha is a child who was born after her birth mother attempted to have an abortion but the abortion failed. This is based on the picture of the girl with the bear:

    Alisha clutched the bear in her hand, the only item she had time to grab before the social worker had ushered her out of foster home number seven. The crushed fur warmed her sweating palm despite the cold January day. Seven homes in seven years. Funny how that worked out.

    She stood at the edge of the steps and waited, as instructed, numb inside to all that had transpired since she had stolen the tape recorder from the listening center of her classroom and finally had the proof of what was being said at “home.”

    “You are the devil’s child, conceived in sin and evil. The abortion doctor was unable to scrape you from your mother’s womb, but left you scarred to mark you for all the world to know what you truly are,” screamed the voice on the tape. “Evil, evil, evil.” Words repeated over, and over. The fosters weren’t stupid. They knew better than to hit and bruise and maim the child whose monthly checks paid for their food and foul-smelling incense and whatever else they spent it on.

    But they never expected her to fight back. They never expected the silent child who lay there suffering as they spewed their hatred at the scar that caused her birth mother to reject her a twice, once by an attempted abortion and a second time when she was born with facial deformities caused by the doctor’s knife.

    “You are stupid, an idiot. The devil breeds only stupidity with his evil.” They had shouted last week as they poured cold water on her and forced her to breathe in the scented, choking smoke. “Purge yourself of the evil! Wash it off!”

    Alisha knew she wasn’t stupid, though. And she had developed a plan when the social worker at school had accused her of lying about the “wonderful couple” who had agreed to take her into their home. Mrs. Blake couldn’t deny the recording’s disgusting words.

    The child held the bear in both arms and squeezed it’s familiar softness. imagining it hugged her back. Things could only get better now. Right?

    • Posted August 1, 2017 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

      This last line leaves me wondering so much. I would definitely be turning the page. My heart aches for Alisha and your layering of insults is a great way to show how relentless this hurt and abuse is. Well done. And thanks for sharing.

  13. Andy Starowicz
    Posted August 1, 2017 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Hi Leah,

    I love your post. I had so much fun writing a little short story using your prompt. I love your website, and I ordered your book. Thank you. Thank you. And thank you.:)

    Here’s my snippet:
    An antique lamp is all that is left from what looks like a successful day of selling at 110 Lakefront Drive. Four long picnic tables that straddle the driveway are empty. Hangers are left dangling on the two racks that run across the front of the garage. In the corner, next to the old brick sidewalk stands a card table with the lone brass, tan colored lamp. All by itself. Alone. Pathetic, but beautiful.

    “Mom, can we buy it? It only costs two dollars.” I ask as I turn the crumpled price tag over in my hand.

    “I’ll sell it to you for fifty cents,” says the elderly woman approaching slowly from the front steps, “it has been a wonderful day. We’ve sold everything. I just want to get rid of it.”

    My mother insists on paying two dollars but the woman only took a dollar. She just wants to sell everything before what she called, “The Big Move.” I notice that she has tears in her eyes when I hand over the folded dollar.

    “I’m sure that you will provide a good home for this old lamp. It’s spent the last sixty-two years in this house. Enjoy it!” And she turns, hobbles back towards the front porch and into the house.

    As soon as I get home, I find the perfect place for it in my bedroom. I place it on the shelf that runs along the wall behind my bed and slide it next to my alarm clock. I reach under the shelf to plug it in and pull to hard on the cord, which pulls the bottom corner away from the base of the lamp.

    A note falls out onto the floor. The paper is yellow and worn with a scent of Aunt Katie’s perfume.

    I pick it up, unfold it carefully, read it, and cannot move from the spot that I am standing. Shock runs through my entire body like a bolt of electric dread. This changes everything. I have to tell Mom.

    • Jennifer Hernandez
      Posted August 1, 2017 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

      Talk about a cliff hanger!!! What does the note say??

      In addition, I love the tender description of the elderly woman at the garage sale. With few words and effective dialogue, I really felt the shift from the enthusiastic child narrator to this other character. I could “hear” them speaking. Nicely done.

    • Posted August 1, 2017 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

      Oh my goodness, I am ready to sit back and read this all night. I love when people find secret letters in secret places. You have so many wonderful details in this piece. I love the image of “hangers left dangling on the two racks” and “a crumpled price tag.” I can see everything as you describe it. I hope you continue with this story! I’m so curious about what happens next.

      And thank you so much for visiting my website and for ordering One Shadow. I hope you enjoy it. 🙂

    • Posted August 2, 2017 at 12:18 am | Permalink

      Yikes! Tell us more. I saw short story in your description, but I guess we have to wait for the ending! Will it be part of the next Quick Write? Maybe, we’ll have to wait and see.

      I also want to read more about the old woman with a tear in her eye, moving from this house. I’m sure she has quite a story to tell, as well. Beautifully done, Andy.

  14. Barb Jaindl
    Posted August 1, 2017 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    Still a gleam in my writer’s eyes, but a start:
    The sun was barely peeking over the board on the east side of the velodrome as Kara slowed her bike and cozied her body up to the outer side of the board opposite the track. Her bike needed to be parallel to the wall of the board so that she could balance without releasing the toe straps. As she lowered her head to release the chin strap, a gleam of light caught her eyes. The sun’s first rays had struck some metallic object that had to be pretty big hidden under the far bleachers that only filled up during Friday night races. Most days, only an occasional coach would recline to take a snooze or, more often, pace the landing steps as he barked words of encouragement for a rider to keep pace.

    • Jennifer Hernandez
      Posted August 1, 2017 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

      A gleam of sunlight on a mystery metallic object…. I like it!! What could be hidden there under the bleachers???

    • Posted August 1, 2017 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

      Barb, this is a really strong start. I am so interested to know more about this metallic object that has attracted the sun’s first rays.

      Thank you for sharing this.

  15. Lacy Greco
    Posted August 1, 2017 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    I use an app called Write About This where a picture is given as the prompt. This is a great exercise to use with students.

    I used the first photo:

    Harvey and Maebell have been playing together since they were puppies. Playing in the nearby stream is a favorite past time. The splashing of the water and the rushing of the stream are calming as I watch them frolic in the warm midday. It is turning Fall soon and summer will be coming to an end. I can’t say I nor the grass will miss the blazing heat of the day. I will miss the dog days of summer though. The freedom to what I want when I want. The luxury of sleeping in and staying up late. The smell of the heat in the air during an evening stroll. At least we have today. Just the three of us.

    • Jennifer Hernandez
      Posted August 1, 2017 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the tip on Write About This. I’ll definitely have to check that out. Love writing to photo prompts, and I’ve found that students do, as well.

      • Lacy Greco
        Posted August 1, 2017 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

        You’re very welcome!

    • Posted August 1, 2017 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

      I love the idea of the grass not missing “the blazing heat of the day.” I can feel this summer day.

      Thanks for sharing.

  16. Jennifer Hernandez
    Posted August 1, 2017 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    Hi Leah, Thanks for this great prompt! I’m so excited to learn about your novel and add it to my classroom library. I work with a lot of immigrant students from Africa, and I can’t wait to share this novel with them (and the rest of my students, too!)

    I had a little trouble choosing a prompt from the wealth offered, so I started by copy-and-pasting the entire word list, then filling it out with whatever came into my mind first. From that list, I was able to choose 3 phrases to inspire my writing for today, a new scene for my WIP. Here’s an excerpt:

    In the branches up to the left, Helena was sure she had seen something – a pale flash. Instantly alert, she kept her eyes on the spot in the trees, trying to calculate her next move. Should she stay where she was or try to hide herself in the brush along the path?

    Before she could make a decision, there was a rustling in the wet branches above her, then a cascade of leaves and rain water as a figure lithely lowered from the branches onto the path directly in front of her. Dressed all in black, hair covered, but face revealed. A pale oval, no mask. The figure lifted a gleaming knife and smiled a wide grin that revealed a broken tooth. Blue eyes wide, the figure gestured to the left with the knife and opened their free hand in a gesture of invitation, cocking their head in the same direction as the knife.

    Helena, heart racing, nodded her head. When the figure turned and stepped off the path into the forest, Helena followed.

    • Jennifer Hernandez
      Posted August 1, 2017 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

      To give some context, the genre is dystopian YA. Helena has been alone in the forest for some time, searching for her younger sister. It’s raining and cold. She’s exhausted and hungry, losing hope.

    • Posted August 1, 2017 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

      I’m a great believer in options! I’m so glad you found some prompts that resonated with you and could fit in your WIP. Just the idea of “stepping of the path” has me thinking so many things. I am both worried and hopeful for Helena.

      I also appreciate you wanting to share my book with your students. YAY! I would love to hear their thoughts once they read it!

  17. Annie
    Posted August 1, 2017 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Leah for this great prompt! I’m very late to my Tuesday Quick Write today, but at least it is still Tuesday.

    A new beginning. What a fucking cliche, but it’s true. I need this new start. I parked my car on the ferry below with all the tourist cars leaving for home. Up the metal steps and through the cabin out to the upper deck balcony. The bellow of the ferry horn echoes above my head, up to the clouds. The ferry begins to pull away. I watch the dock as the ferry pulls out of port. I secretly want Alex there waving goodbye, but he’s not. I watch the island become smaller and smaller as the ferry pulls further and further away. Goodbye my home. I turn away and head back down to my car.

    • Posted August 1, 2017 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

      Glad you were able to try it out today, Annie.

      Right from the start I want to know why the protagonist needs a new beginning. And of course I am wondering where Alex is? I love how the MC comes out to the balcony for that final, hopeful, look at it all, only to turn around and go back to their car. Nice start.

      Thanks so much for sharing.

  18. Jen Howe
    Posted August 2, 2017 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much for this prompt. I find my students love working with visuals. I didn’t get a chance to write yesterday, but I will definitely revisit.

    • Posted August 5, 2017 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      I love visuals as well. Gets my mind going in all sorts of ways.

  19. Brandy Loomis
    Posted August 4, 2017 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Third Image

    Murmurs around the corner
    Wrapping a scarf
    Her chilly neck
    Cold cobblestone beneath
    Her boots clopping along
    Lavender lingers in the air

    • Posted August 5, 2017 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      I love this, Brandy. For some that image might have struck a really eerie cord (and who knows yours might still be headed that way) but this snippets of images together paint a really beautiful moment. Thanks so much for sharing this.

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