Writing Prompt: Unsolved Mystery

Include the following in your story: murder, green, agreement, traditional, carpenter, snake, sugar, kidney, congress, jam.

It was supposed to be a traditional murder case. Open and shut. Textbook worthy. Yet, the carpenter’s home was a total mess when I walked in. Flies buzzed everywhere, constantly zipping past your head, and even running right into you. The horrid stench of rotting flesh tainted the air. I had to cover my hand over my mouth just to keep from gagging. The body was found in the kitchen and it was the worst room in the whole house. A carved wooden table was snapped in two, a blender had been running wild when the police first arrived, but now was shut off. Sugar and jam spilled all over the floor like clotted blood. Even a blind man could tell there had been a struggle.

The witnesses outside all came to an agreement on who did the crime and the evidence we have so far pointed at that very person. No one could say enough how much they loved the carpenter, the now deceased. The only person who didn’t have anything good to say was the carpenter’s next door neighbor: Congressman Bogard–a wicked man, in my opinion. The neighborhood claimed the two of them never saw eye to eye and the carpenter was even against the congressman’s campaign. I’d like to believe it was a corrupt member of congress, but until we went over all the evidence, we couldn’t make any claims.

I looked up from my notebook when I entered the kitchen and I stopped in my tracks when I saw the scene for the first time. It was just as the police described it; however, there was one thing missing. Where was the body?

The coroner hadn’t arrived yet and the police outside said that the body was splayed out on the floor and missing a kidney. I headed for the front lawn to shout questions at the officers; however, I didn’t make it that far. I reached the living room at the same moment one of my CSI’s opened a closet. She screamed in brief jolt a fright and I was left dumbfounded. A green, gutted snake was hanging in the closet like a coat on a hanger.

This was far from an open and shut case. The victim’s body was missing, a congressman might be involved, and now there was a flayed snake in the closet? What in God’s name happened in this house?!

Dragon in the Fog

It was the morning of Thanksgiving and fog covered the streets. I suspected the sun had yet to rise since the world was so dark and glum. Having to work, I headed into the chilly morning to find a layer of frost on my truck’s windows. My truck takes as long as I do to wake up in the morning. Meaning, the heater doesn’t kick in until I reach 60 mph. Until I hit the highway, the fog kept freezing on my windshield like a child trying to cover my eyes to keep me from seeing. Thankfully, traffic was light on this holiday. The radio was playing my favorite Christian songs. My truck heated up to fight back the fog and all became well.

Not long later, the world just brightens up. I had driven out of the fog, something I had never done before. Usually, I make it to my destination and the fog passes by while I’m inside a building, but that morning, I actually found the end of the fog myself. I thought it was so cool. Before, you couldn’t see the sunrise, but then yellow light was hovering over the clouds on the horizon. It made me smile and truly appreciate the “coming out of the fog” analogy I use in my writings. That’s when I realized the clouds on the horizon were a lot closer than they appeared. It was another blanket of fog and I drove right into it. Again, I was amazed at how quickly the bright of the morning turned into a dark, hazy gloom. I could barely see the lights of the car I followed a hundred feet ahead. Eventually, I got off the highway the fog is still so thick that the morning sun can’t shine through. The time could easily be mistaken as the middle of the night.

Something about that foggy morning lit a fire in me. I was excited and rearing to go like someone shot me up with expresso. Looking through the fog, I could just envision the different scenes of my writings that occur in such a setting. I almost expected my characters to be walking down the sidewalk or flying out of the fog just to fade away back into as they rushed to complete their tasks. It was invigorating!

Then, I get to a tall hill on my route that has a stoplight at its peak. All I could see of the stoplight were its two lights and they were red as I started the climb up the hill. I knew they were stoplights. I knew what they meant, but my imagination envisioned so much more! I saw the red eyes of a dragon peering down at me and the fog that filled the world was the smoke that steamed from its nostrils. The closer I got to it, the more I felt like a knight riding a noble steed toward the danger ahead and I needed to pull the sword at my side in preparation to slay the beast. Well, I didn’t actually have a sword and I certainly wasn’t a knight. Just a girl in canine care driving an old truck towards a stoplight. The light turned green and the poles of the stoplight came into view, killing my fantasy, but it was fun while it lasted.

I guess the point I’m trying to get across is how a little change of scenery can really fire the imagination and brighten your day. For me, it was a foggy ride to work that gave me the momentary thrill of charging a dragon head on. Even if you’re stuck in the daily routine of seeing the same old, same old, try to change it up a bit and let your imagination loose. Let yourself see the dragon in the distance or maybe you see a spaceship dropping off aliens instead? If you pass an old tree on the way to work, give that tree your own story. Maybe witches once hanged from its limbs or the trunk holds the doorway to a magical world. It’s a good way to free yourself from the mundane of the day to day and you get that self-earned pride of slaying a dragon, stopping an invasion, or hanging evil witches from trees. Maybe you’ll even come up with a novel idea?

It can’t hurt to try.

Writing Prompt: Snakes

Interesting or creepy? Why?

I love snakes! I think they’re pretty fascinating. Their scales are smooth and cool to the touch. They have a variety of different colors and patterns. Their movement is elegant and when provoked, they can be quite vicious. I especially love snakes with fangs because of how intimidating and fierce they can be.

I know, not everyone shares my view of snakes. I mean, you could just have that phobia, but when you really think about it, they get A LOT of bad rap. In books and movies and other stories, snakes are typically the bad guys. Just look at Nag and Nagaina from Rikki Tikki Tavi, the basilisk from Harry Potter, or even Medusa with her hair full of snakes. I think most of us can testify that growing up, we saw a lot of snakes or other reptiles being marked as the villains. For some of us, it could be because a serpent tempted Eve in the garden of Eden or maybe we grew up with Kaa from The Jungle Book, the Mara from Doctor Who, or video games where your fight a lot of reptiles: dragons, lizards, and snakes.

Long ago, when I was in middle school, I remember playing Baulder’s Gate, a video game, with my brother and we encountered this snake/lizard man who was requesting our help. Well, we help him and it ends up resulting in this snake-guy betraying us because he was in the service of the main villain the entire time. I was upset, because I thought I finally found a story were the reptile wasn’t a villain, but I was wrong. I was starting to think no one wanted snakes or reptiles of any kind to be the good guys.

Fast forward a couple years and I start writing my novel. If you’ve read my past posts, you know I’ve got elves, and centaurs, and fairies, and dwarves within it. Well, to not be a total Narnia knockoff, I included a few more species that have my own little twist to them, and, you betcha! I put reptilians, snake/lizard people, in my novel.

Now, you’re probably thinking: “oh, so you’re rewriting the twist on reptiles? You’re gonna make one of your snake people the good guy?” Let me put it this way: who’s good and who’s bad in my novel is entirely a matter of opinion. Yes. There is a protagonist and an antagonist like any good story. However, when it comes to every other character–snake people, centaurs, elves, and other–you have to decide for yourself where everyone falls on the spectrum of Light and Darkness. I mean, you could even decide that someone is right smack in the middle of the gray area. I could tell you how I view my characters, but I don’t want to sway your opinion.

I can’t tell you how often I wish for feedback on my novel and its mostly feedback I want on my characters. I love them to death and I hope everyone else loves them too. God willing, someday you’ll be able to go to the bookstore or go to the library and pull a book off the shelf with the author of Nikki Diekemper. I hope you read it, I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you let me know what you think. Oh, and one last thing:

I hope you’re not afraid of snakes.

Swamped

Swamped. A marsh thick with swirling fog overhead, weighing down rest and trailing weary.
Wet. The water, the muck, and the bog that tears and pulls at your feet.
Tall rooted trees extend above, green and luscious casting shadows upon you.
Where is the light that needs to shine through?

Duty. A job to be done, muscles to be beaten, broken.
Continue day in and out.
Work hard, smile, sturdy, get up early, take no rest.
A disciplined warrior, always vigilant, always watching.
Never break. Never late. Who gains from being lazy?

Silent. A shadow in the day, unnoticeable, unwanted.
Blending with the black mist, hidden from all the world.
A dream only protrayed within the head.
No matter the rock, the leaves, the twigs.
Silence. Quiet as a predator pouncing on prey.
Who can become a shade among light?

Dreamer. Swirling in the mind like leaves in the wind.
To be what isn’t. To gain what can’t be achieved.
Danger, adventure, glory, and honor. Fantasy leading the charge.
What can be? What could’ve been? What wished could happen?
Alive in the mind. Fly free. Swim the seas. Race through the empty space.
See beyond the reality.
Where is the dream that can be attained?

Theme Songs

I think everyone out there has a favorite theme song or favorite couple of theme songs. Just hearing those first few notes, you recognize it and automatically think of the show it’s connected too. Many of you might know the Friends theme song by heart or the theme song to your kid’s favorite show. Maybe you just hear a song on the radio that you correlated to something, so you unintentionally gave that something a theme song? Maybe you have a theme song for your life?

The reason I’m bringing up theme songs is because I kept hearing one of mine over the past few weeks. Ok, so technically it’s not mine. I never assigned a theme song to my life, but I have assigned songs to some of my characters from my novel. I know you guys don’t know much about my novel except that it’s a medieval fantasy, so I’m hoping that by sharing some of these songs I have assigned to my characters, you get a little more insight into what’s going on with some of my beloved characters throughout my novel.

Now, I’ve got a lot of songs that I assign to characters and some characters have multiple songs for different points in their life. Last time I counted, I had 18 songs that reminded me of my characters. I’ll admit, I will sit somewhere and listen to those songs over and over again, because they play scenes from my novel like a music video in my mind. Some of them are heartbreaking and others are incredibly inspiring. I’m not going to list every song. I’ll only highlight my top favorites.

I mentioned earlier that one of my characters’ theme songs kept playing throughout the past week. Well, that song is Separate Ways by Journey, and it has easily become my favorite song by Journey just because it reminds me of two characters in my novel. I’m not going to give those characters’ names because I don’t want spoilers, but I encourage you to listen to the song if you don’t know it. It paints a good picture of some character dynamic in my novel.

Another one of my favorite songs for my characters is Fooling Yourself or The Angry Young Man by Styx. Again, because this song reminds me of one of my dear characters, it has jumped into the slot of my top favorite Styx song. For those of you who’ve read my novel, you can probably pick out which character this song goes too. For those of you still waiting to read it, I hope you give this song a listen too and think about what kind of character has a song like Fooling Yourself as the one that defines them.

A third song I designate to one of my characters is Monster by Skillet. I used to not like the style of Skillet, but I connect this song and a couple of their other songs to my characters and, well, I like them now. I feel like Monster is a very relatable song for most people, but it definitely fits well with one of my characters and each lyric paints a vivid scene in my mind. It’s enough to get my blood pumping. However, the main question is whether or not my character is going to let that monster inside control them.

The last song I want to share is Little Miss by Sugarland. This song makes me think of three of my characters and they’re all pretty inspiring female characters (if I do say so myself). The lyrics of this song are very inspiration to girls everywhere and I’m sure anyone could find one lyric they relate too. I correlate this song to three of my girls because each line in a verse just fits perfectly with them. I encourage everyone to give it a listen and see if you find a lyric that you relate too and if not, maybe you can guess which lyrics combine to form one of my three characters whether you know any of my characters or not.

Thanks for taking the time to listen to my theme songs for some of my characters. I hope you give each of them some thought on what kind of characters these songs are attached too and how these different characters could fit into a story. Yes, you caught me, I’m trying to get you more interested in my novel and eager to read it someday. Let me know if its working!

To finish off, why don’t you comment below some of your favorite theme songs? Or any songs that you correlate to something? I’d love to hear all your different stories!

Writer’s Dominion

To command a pen, to glide on a page.
What freedom there is that you can control.
The will of the wind where it would,
The current of a stream, refreshing, refined.
A power to command kingdoms,
Your will is the law.

A written page forever spoken,
Lies rebel fire or flooding rain.
The ash of death or washing away of the voice.
Endless wonders invite the pen.
Tell the serpent’s tongue,
Or light of a song sung true.

Speak in fact. Speak the textbook.
Or speak in clouds of swirling wonder.
The power to revered,
be sure to show respect.
Lest a fear of condemning eyes only stare back.

To stare at the blankness, the power is yours.
Choose a median, forever to stay,
Or choose a choice that could be wiped away.
Sweet song, simple poem, words of a story.
There is much there that shouts out to be heard.
You must be the one to form the words.

Written 9/23/2015

Your Top Genre and Why?

Everyone has a favorite genre. It’s usually the first aisle you go to in a bookstore or the first movies you like to see at the theatre. Some people love the scares of the horror genre or the puzzling events of a mystery or maybe you like to cozy up by the fire with a romance? As for me? Well, if you’ve read my previous posts, you know that my favorite genre is fantasy, specifically medieval fantasy.

Do you ever wonder why people like the genres they do? I was wondering that this week. I get that some people like the suspense and frightening effects of the horror genre (I certainly don’t), and other people like swooning over heart-warming romances. I love the escape of the fantasy. Magic and swords, archers and pirates, elves and centaurs, etc.! Yet, I got to wondering where that stemmed from. I mean, going beyond the “I like magic and enchanted creatures” and right down to what got me into medieval fantasies in the first place.

Maybe it was Disney movies? I did grow up in a time period where a lot of Disney movies were popular: Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan, etc. However, the main ones I remember watching the most were The Lion King, 101 Dalmatians, and Bambi, but those aren’t medieval. So, there’s gotta be another reason and I figured it out at the start of this week.

You may remember me mentioning this in a previous post, but just recently, the video game Hyrule Warriors; Age of Calamity, was released (and I’m super excited for it). Watching the trailers and seeing the artwork for the game often has me in awe of it. I love the way they design the castle and the landscape. I love how they define the royal characters, the knights, the champions, and the army verses army gameplay. It is a medieval fantasy at its peak and I realize it’s the Legend of Zelda series that’s hooked me into the fantasy genre in the first place.

I have two older brothers and when I was little, I always watched them play The Legend of Zelda; Ocarina of Time. I knew how to beat the game before I even started playing it myself. My favorite parts to watch were when they got to the scenes involving the princess and watching my oldest brother play “peek-a-boo” with the final boss. Often, when they were done playing, I’d take what they did in the game and incorporate it into what I did with my toys. I may have had toys set in modern times, but they always turned into a medieval theme with a princess, armies, and darkness coming to destroy the land. From there, my love for fantasy just grew and grew with other popular books, shows, movies, or games that came out. So, whenever I found myself in a library or bookstore, it’s always the fantasy section I search for.

That’s my tale on my favorite genre and where I believe my love for fantasy came from. Now, I want to know yours! What’s your favorite genre and why? Do you like the thrills of horror? The adventure of deep space? The affection of romances? What about a wild and witty western or war-time movies? Maybe you just stick to plain and simple action with car chases and gun fights? Whatever it is, comment your genre and your reason down below! I really want to know what everyone is into out there!

Featured Photo from Hyrule Warriors; Age of Calamity.

The Best

I wanna be the very best, like no one ever was.
Training, running, fighting, trying, I’ll beat my way to the top.
No one can stop me, no one can harm me.
I’ll be the best there ever was,
I’ll take first place, you’ll see, it’ll be easy.

Battle me all you want,
I’ll win every time.
Sweet, sweet, sweet victory, yeah.
My team always takes it home.
Not once can you break us, or knock us from the saddle.

Not once will we give in, or submit to defeat.
The race is on and here comes pride in the back stretch.
We’ll stand until the very end.
Send your explosions, fire your cannons.
When the smoke’s gone, we’re still here, and we’re hot

Cause we’re based on heart and we’re based on soul.
It’s the final countdown.
Are you ready to go?
Eyes met. The challenge starts.
The winner’s the best, like no one ever was.

This was written in 2013 for an assignment in my Creative Writing class. It was actually pretty fun and I recommend it to other writers. You choose however many song lyrics and use them in your poem, but you can only have one lyric per verse. I’ve got four song lyrics written in this poem. Can you figure out which lines they are? Like or comment if you do!

Writing Prompt: First Love

Include the following in your story: dog walker, observe, frightful, broken, curvy, wooden, violet, rabbit, stamp, maze.

He has eyes of deep hazel and a sure, sturdy face. He walks with confidence and ambition like an alpha leading a rabbit hunt. The maze of the workplace didn’t phase him, didn’t make him frightful or broken like the others. He’s always watching, always listening, and his thoughts hide behind a mask. Every move you make, every intention you might have, he’s ready to observe. Maybe that’s why he’s so intriguing? So mysterious, this one named Moon.

There’s nothing romantic about our meeting. No violet-colored sunset, no twinkling of the stars. A dog walker passed by and there he was, roaming like a curvy, savvy pirate ready to explore the land. He didn’t notice me. He didn’t even turn my way, but I’ve got that memory stamped in my mind to this day.

The next few weeks were hard on me the most. He didn’t like me to start. He made it clear in his stares and even pushed me away at my welcoming. It hurt more than it should have. He’s certainly no one to cry about and there’s plenty other apples among the bunch, but he intrigued me, and I didn’t want to give up on him.

Over time, he opened up and came around. We’d go on walks, I’d prepare dinner, and I saw how sweet this alpha could be. He welcomed my touch and wanted to hold me close. It warms my heart to know he cares. Eventually, I gave in and welcomed him to my home. We lay together every night and those eyes that once stared so offensively now look on me with love and excitement. We still go on walks, he guards me from others, then at home its up on the wooden-framed couch for down time. He kisses me with his tongue and lays his head on my lap. Sometimes, I stroke his fur until we fall asleep. Just me, and my best dog Moon.

Anything Worth Doing Blog Post

So, a couple weeks ago, I encountered a post on Facebook that hit me pretty hard. Not like an “oh, my heart is breaking!” or a “Hahahahahaha!” But rather, an inspirational “wow, that’s…that’s actually true,” and I feel like I’ve known this for a while (a “back of the mind” type thing), but it didn’t really resonate until I saw this post. Like someone just drove a nail completely through that I only had a fourth of the way in.

Now, I don’t remember the full details of the post (who posted it or that whatnot), but the gist of it went like this:

“Anything worth doing is worth doing halfway.”

That doesn’t make much sense, now, does it? I mean, it’s not really worth it to put half the dishes away, or drive halfway to a party, or play half of a game. No, this saying goes a little bit deeper than that. Maybe you’ve already heard it? If so, comment your story about it. For those of you who haven’t heard it, let me explain it, and let me tell you why it hit me so hard.

So, what’s worth doing halfway? The post I read gave a few examples, but its all based on time and effort. Maybe you’re running late in the morning and don’t have the time to brush your teeth for the full two minutes? Well, thirty seconds is better than nothing; at least something in your mouth will get cleaned. Maybe you’ve had a long day and you don’t want to do the full cardio workout you have scheduled for yourself? Well, ten minutes of yoga is better than nothing, right? Maybe you like to read a book before bed, but you’re too tired to read an entire chapter? A page or two could suffice for the night. Slow progress is still progress.

It’s all about that progress, I suppose. Moving forward and making some sort of effort. Start with baby steps and grow from there. Whether you want to get healthier, read more, starts projects, hobbies, etc. etc. etc. Just make sure you have the effort to do whatever it is halfway.

Now, you remember I told you I had the nail a fourth of the way in? Here’s why. Probably about a month (or more) ago, I watched this very strange movie on Netflix. It was called “The Producers” from 2005. I don’t know what it was about that movie, but I felt strangely encouraged afterwards. You see, before I watched this movie, I hadn’t written anything for a long time. I struggled with depression and discouragement that my writings just weren’t good enough for anyone to give their time too. Yet, after watching “The Producers” I actually opened my laptop again (this was after midnight, by the way) and I started writing one of my stories–or at least, attempted too. I ended up making two notes for myself and stuck them on my desk where I knew I would see them everyday. The first one asked the question of “Why can’t I be a great author?” I love to create stories and connect with my characters! I love writing descriptions that might give you chills. At this point in time, I only had a part time job, so I had plenty of time to get ahead in writing my novels. The second note I wrote for myself goes along with the main theme of this post: “Anything on the page is progress.”

Anything on the page is progress. Anything. A whole chapter, 500 words, a summary of what happens next, a terrible paragraph full of commas and misspelled words, anything! However, my encouragement from watching “The Producers” didn’t last long. (Don’t ask me why it encouraged me. I’m not entirely sure on that yet.) I wrote a little bit each day in the next couple of days and within two weeks I had a (very) rough draft of the first chapter of my sci-fi novel, but then the discouragement snagged me once again and I was doubting myself.

Fast forward to me reading that anything worth doing is worth doing halfway and I immediately felt baffled. Maybe I was feeling guilty for not being able to put 100% into my writing. Maybe I was stuck in the mindset that good writers write everyday and I was a bad writer because I didn’t do that? Whatever it was, it was freeing to see that post and realize that I’m not the only one who has to do some things halfway and sometimes that’s the only thing you can do and you shouldn’t feel guilty for it. Any passion or hobby you have is worth doing and its worth doing halfway. I love to write, so if I only write a terrible paragraph a day, that’s still progress (it’s easier to go back and edit than it is to pull something out of thin air anyway). I intend to take this saying to heart and keep trucking along with my writings, and I hope this saying does something for you too. Keep making progress in whatever your goals are, even if it means going slow, because anything worth doing, is worth doing halfway.