But once again, I'm up against picking a winning story from such great, amazing pieces... What was I thinking when I decided to do contests, lol? This judging business is hard. You are ALL winners in my book!! So PLEASE definitely go read all the stories (You can find them in this PDF...) Oh, and I was just going to skip this month's challenge because I was super busy, but then suddenly a story happened and so there you go. A bit of flash fiction. Kind of reminds me of Sergeant York for some reason... but that's ok by me. ;) It's a little funky but you can get the whole thing in the PDF of this month's stories. ;) Here>> March Challenge Stories.
And the winning story..... *drumroll*
The Bright Idea
By: Ryana Lynn
*Note: This story is about the same characters from “Love Conquers All”, but takes place before it chronologically. You may also notice that Mitch is not mentioned. That’s a story for another time.*
They say you learn from your mistakes. Not always.
Salem Springfield well knew that Becca, his sister, was a jumpy person. Very jumpy. And when startled, Becca often over reacts. Like the time when they were younger and he threw a rubber snake at her while they were working in the garden. She had screamed and thrown her hoe…barely missing Salem’s head. There were many other such incidents…far too many to list now.
Well today, they had been conveniently forgotten. He had returned earlier than expected from deployment and was finally going to get to do a surprise homecoming to his parents and siblings. After doing a little reconnaissance, he found out from a neighbor that everyone was home, except Becca and their younger brother Jason. They had run to the store for some ice cream and should be just about home.
It was getting late when Salem ducked behind their family’s small outbuilding. He saw headlights and watched at Becca pulled her dark green Volkswagen Bug into the driveway. He grinned. It was time.
He snuck around behind her car as Jason stepped out, holding the cartons of ice cream. “I hope we got the right kind of Butter Pecan,” Jason said. “You know how particular Tim is about his ice cream.”
Becca, who was still sitting in the driver’s seat, putting her keys away and impromptu cleaning out her purse in the process, laughed and continued rifling through the pockets. “I think I got the right kind…Jason, where’s my cell phone?”
“In the cup holder where you put it earlier,” Jason called, closing his door and heading for the house.
“Thanks,” Becca laughed, unplugging the device and putting it in its proper place. Salem noticed she was carrying the purse he had gotten her for her twentieth birthday. It was a patchwork style purse, featuring four different kinds of military camo, since they had family in each of those branches.
Finally, Becca stood and closed the car door, dug through her purse to get her keys back out, locked the door and replaced the keys. She was so predictable. She placed her purse on her right shoulder and headed for the house.
Salem made his move. He silently came up behind her and touched her arm, saying, “Hey, Becca!”
It all happened so fast, Salem was completely caught off guard. Becca screamed at the top of her lungs, whirled around and sprayed Salem in the face with her infamous can of Pepper spray…the one thing Salem had forgotten about her routine. She always carried it with her.
“Oh, my eyes!” Salem gasped, tripping backwards to the ground as Becca continued to scream. Jason came barreling out of the house with Tim, Randy and Dad on his heels. Every house light in the base housing neighborhood came on, or so it seemed.
“You just stay right there!” Randy, the oldest of the Springfield boys, ordered.
“Randy, it’s me!” Salem choked, fighting the urge to rub his eyes. That would only make the situation worse.
“Salem?” Tim shouted. “What are you trying to do? Get yourself killed?” he added, holstering his pistol.
Becca turned as reality sunk in. “Oh, Salem! I’m so sorry!”
Mom joined her family and when she saw, aided by Jason’s flashlight, Randy helping Salem up, she immediately took control of the situation. “Get him to the kitchen sink!”
“Is everything alright?”
Dad turned and saw their neighbor MSGT. Williams shouting from his porch. With a smirk, Dad called back, “It’s all good. Just a surprise homecoming.”
Williams laughed. “Sounded more like a cat fight!”
“When pepper spray’s involved, that’s about right,” Dad replied.
“Oh no! You’ve got to tell me about this tomorrow, Doc!”
Meanwhile inside, Salem was holding his head over the sink while his mother sprayed cold water in his eyes from the sink hose.
Rachel and Mary hurried down the stairs. “What happened?” Mary asked in alarm, observing what looked like a drowning in process.
“Salem’s home,” was all Jason could manage. Mary stared at her older brothers gathered around the sink. She looked at Rachel, then Becca, who explained what had happened.
“That was real bright,” Rachel snickered, patting her younger brother on the shoulder.
Salem wrinkled his nose at her. “Who’s bright idea was it to give Becca Pepper spray?” Salem defended, drying his eyes.
Randy grinned. “Yours, remember, Jarhead? You better be glad she wasn’t carrying her Navy SEAL knife Dad bought last week!”
“You beat all, Salem,” Tim said, laughing at his brother’s red eyes, still watering from the ordeal.
“Salem, I am so sorry,” Becca lamented, her voice quite pitiful. “You really startled me! I shouldn’t be on such a hair-trigger.”
Salem shook his head and gave his younger sister a side hug. “You did exactly what you should have done in that situation. You had no reason to think it was me and not some lunatic.”
“Uh, that’s debatable,” Dad said with a chuckle. “Seems like she was dealing with a lunatic!” Everyone laughed.
“The mighty Marine taken down by a civilian girl!” Randy teased.
Mom smiled and hugged Salem tightly. “Welcome home, son! It’s so good to have you back!”
“Thanks! I was wondering if that part of my presence had been forgotten!” Salem said, hugging her back.
Welcomes and hugs were exchanged by the family, their ice cream snack turning into a welcome home celebration. Salem smiled. It was so good to be home with his family. Dear Lord, he prayed silently, thank You for our family. Thank You for letting us get back together, all safe and sound. Please protect us in the days ahead and guide us through whatever You may choose to bring our way…and help me learn from my mistakes!...
Ah I love it! :D It made me laugh and yet I really enjoyed the family relationship. Great job, Ryana!! I'll be contacting you soon about where to send your prize! :)
Book Club... So Book Club Time!! Ok I had no idea how much I'd love this month's book but man, did it really tear me all up inside! The challenge was to read a book set in your home place...be it country, state, or city. Well, I read Bridge to the Sun by Gwen Terasaki, set in Japan, and... WOW. I just... *tears* So much feels involved with that book. I really, really enjoyed it. I mean, it's about a USA girl in Japan, who loves Japanese, and WWII... some of my favorite things! I loved that it was WWII yet the Japanese weren't talked about like they were monsters or something. Because I understand both American and Japanese cultures so well I was able to really feel deeply throughout the book for the characters, and yet I was still able to really find out some things about WWII era Japan I had only vaguely recognized before. (And I'll wrap up a bit more in the next section. ;) )
Monthly Wrap-Up. Ok, March. Let's see how we did. *laughs* *or wait is that sobbing*? :P
Writing: I had a goal of finishing The Needlemaker and/or writing 30k. Well, I lost track of the word count but I believe it was around 30k and NO. Needlemaker is not done yet. What's up, Needlemaker?? And I worried it might be too short... hahaha. That said though the writing has been going GREAT. A little bit longer than I expected, perhaps, and throwing in some extra scenes I didn't anticipate, and reworking things a bit that I really wasn't planning on but... GREAT. I've been posting tons of sneak peeks on my writing FB page >> https://www.facebook.com/BookbugsWrite/ with a cool little challenge thing... (one comment on a specific post = I write 500 words which = 1 sneak peek posted for you.) but the best part is that once we hit 25 sneak peeks I'm going to reveal Needlemaker's cover!!!!!! SO much excite! I can't wait for you all to see it. We just need 5 more comments to reach the revealing so if you're on Facebook, definitely hop on over and check it out, and comment... And you know what? Even if you aren't on FB, the writing page is public, so you can go read the sneak peeks and stuff anyways. ;)
Reading: My goal was 6 books. It did not happen y'all. So I don't know about you but sometimes I'm just in a reading BLITZ and other times, not so much. I just want to make the point here though that no matter how many books you read a month, or how many in a year, or whatever... it does not change your status as a bookbug. Because what is a bookbug really? Someone who LOVES books! And so, yeah, don't ever let anyone tell you you're not a bookbug just because you don't read x amount of books, and don't ever feel like you're not as "good of a bookbug" as someone else because you read slower, or less, or whatever. Be your own kind of bookbug! :D
So that said my books were kinda wonky this month. I read one book over 60% through and then quit, (but still reviewed it) and I'm currently in the middle of 2 books I haven't finished yet, and then I actually finished 2. So what does that mean. 3? 4? 5? I really don't know. Let's just say I read this month and it was a kind of weird reading month haha. But a good one nonetheless. I enjoyed it despite not reaching my goal. It's more important to enjoy what you read then cram stuff in for the sake of numbers or something, you know? So here's March's reading list with links to my reviews for them on Goodreads! :)
Cassia-- by Susan F. Craft 3 stars
The Meeting Place -- by Janette Oke 5 Stars
Bridge to the Sun-- by Gwen Terasaki 5 stars
And I'm in the middle of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen and Lives of the Three Mrs. Judsons by Arabella Stewart. ;) *cough cough* I've been in the middle of the Judsons book for over a year now. Oops. *blush*. Need to finish it up haha!
- Catching up on blogs and commenting? Eh... that was almost a total fail. I started doing a wee bit better with reading posts right away if they popped up on my Facebook, but email ones... I failed badly, y'all. My apologies to my blogger friends... I love ya and I will try to be less absent, haha!!
- Interacting with other writers & book loving people... cultivating friendships? Actually, I think I did pretty good on this. I am rather pleased, actually. And you know what, it's been FUN and I really have been loving it!
- Do prep for upcoming secrets. Yes. Kinda. Well, let's just say, one of those secret projects will be on hold for a while, but maybe someday I'll get back to it. Another is a potential, and then finally the last one is one I am working towards, and should be a reality fairly soon. No deadline because you know me and deadlines, lol. Basically I'm working towards getting my YouTube channel set up properly and start doing bookish and writerly videos on there. It's been something I've been working towards but on the back burner for about a year now and hopefully soon it will be live for all of you all! :) That said I HAVE started vlogging a little because... it's fun and I can get used to the camera a little better... and so far I have one (from Friday). I'm posting them on my writing FB page, so be sure to check it out! https://www.facebook.com/BookbugsWrite/ Remember, even if you aren't on Facebook you can still check stuff out on my page because it's public. ;)
So this is a little questionnaire I made up for my Goodreads Book Club group (Don't forget to join!) And I thought that it might be fun if I did it in my monthly wrap-up for you all! :D
1. What was the last book that made you cry?
Bridge to the Sun for sure.
2. What was the last book that made you laugh?
Uh... Sense and Sensibility, I guess.
3. What was the last book you read in public?
Bridge to the Sun
4. Where were you when you read your last book in public?
The dentist. I actually read a lot out in public this past month... yeah and it was definitely the wrong books to read for everyone to see me haha.
5. What was the last book that made you fall in love with a character?
Bridge to the Sun, although I really loved some characters in The Meeting Place too.
6. Continuing with Q5, who was that character?
Gwen and Terry in Bridge to the Sun and Eli and Henry in The Meeting Place . Yeah, I just picked the two main characters in one and then a hardly-even-in-it side character (Eli) for the other. :D It's just how it works sometimes! :P
7. What was the last book you put in your TBR? (Goodreads or not)
Grace and the Preacher by Kim Vogel Sawyer.
8. What was the last book you gave a review for?
Bridge to the Sun.
9. What was the last book by an indie author that you've read?
Oh I can't remember. Maybe same as last time, Hartly Manor? (by Amanda Tero)
10. What book are you really excited about reading next?
Sequel to The Meeting Place and some more Indie books! :)
And some more randomness, once again in nice bullet points:
- You know I told you how I wanted to finish The Needlemaker and then work on writing for another project? Well obviously I didn't work on that much but I'll go ahead and tell you... it's a short story collection with the theme of Remembering. What people will remember about ourselves, and how to live in a way to be remembered, and that kind of thing. It's a bit hard to put the theme into words (says the writer...how embarrassing) but I'm looking forward to working on it. I'll tell you more about it later... right now Needlemaker is still main focus! :)
- So Nigel (in the Needlemaker) is just the best. I love him so much! He's hilarious bright spot in the on-the-sad-side book-- even when he takes things super seriously he's just so funny and you can't help but smile. He's seventeen and awkward and cheerful and sincere, and just... I'm so glad you're in the book, Nigel. (He also has these things I call "Nigel Moments". It's just Nigel being Nigel pretty much, haha!)
- You know how last month I talked about the fact that I'm a dry-eyed reader most the time? Well, scratch that. Here's the scoop: I have a bad habit of play-acting as I read so depending on the book if I accidentally get in that mood I can set myself crying just because I'm play-acting. And then, well, apparently books like Bridge to the Sun can make me be like "Aww" one second and then tearing up another second and yes I did sit crying after I finished the book, a little like when I finished Friedrich.
- I am NaNo-ing this month! And it's been great so far!! I'm trying to finish up Needlemaker and then I'll be editing. But I'm counting by hours so that's been cool and rather comforting too, actually. lol.
Well that's that for March! ;)
Question of the Day: How was your March? What was the brightest spot of that month for you? Did you read any books that made you cry?
Oh, and hey! If you enjoyed the writing contest, or reading the stories, or just the blog in general, be awesome and share the link with your friends and family! ;) It's super easy to do, and you know the saying-- the more, the merrier! :D
Have a lovely day!
P.S. if you liked this post, you'll enjoy these! Check 'em out! :)
Top Books I read Ages 9-13
Pep Talk: Pushing Through the Mid-Way Blues
Sneak Peek at My NaNoWriMo Novel (The Needlemaker)