Spark Prompts 18 – When I’m With You

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As of late, most of my playlist has consisted of Lauv’s songs. His melodic beats, dreamy lyrics, and soft voice give me all the feels. That is why I chose his song “I Like Me Better” as the inspiration for this week’s Spark Prompts.

If you have never heard the song before, you can listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7fzkqLozwA


Rolling over in bed, he reached out for her. A frown folded his lips when his hand met the vacant spot next to him. With a heavy sigh, he sat up in bed. The heat of the afternoon warmed the room, the stench of his soiled clothes stacked in the corner waiting to be washed violating his nostrils. He grasped the pillow next to him and pressed it into his nose. Hints of strawberry and mint refreshed his senses. He shivered as his spine tingled. Her scent lingered, traces of her presence taunting him as placed the pillow back. His eyed the clock, its digital numbers screaming for him to start his day.

Kicking his feet over the side of his bed, he recalled all the events from the night before. Her joyful laughter echoed in his mind, cracking his lips into a wide smile. Whenever he was saddened by life’s obligations, she reminded him to live in the moment.  Like stranded on an island, her kisses were salt water, quenchable but leaving him to crave another.

Scratching his head, his feet shuffled against the wooden planks. The rush of a headache stung his sinuses, aftereffects of a night of drinking settling in. Flicking on the bathroom light, he shielded his eyes and cursed under his breath. His groans echoed in the room as he grasped the edge of the sink. Wiping the sleep from his eyes, he dared to look into the mirror.

It was then he saw her.

She twirled the ends of his mahogany hair between her slender fingers. Leaning into him, she rubbed her forehead against his chin, streaks of red emerged on the surface after being scraped by his stubble. But as he turned to embrace her, she was gone.

Emma.

Her name rang in his ears. Peering at his reflection, he pursed his lips. His arms longed to be tangled up in her. Instead, they hung by his sides as his shoulders slumped forward. Without her by his side, his world was dark. He didn’t know what it was to live before meeting her.

Grabbing his toothbrush, he reminded himself that she’d call him stupid for not going to work. Her spirit was free, but her reasoning kept her grounded. She urged him to hang in there for a little while longer. Her promises of them being together again lifted his spirits. Jamming the toothbrush into his mouth, he hummed as he got ready for the day.

With a fresh pair of jeans and a button-up shirt, he took one last glimpse of himself. A few swipes of his oiled hair readjusted his spiked hair. He grabbed his jacket and slid it over himself before noticing the folded paper on top of his nightstand.

Big, bold letters of his name printed on the off-white paper. He rushed over and swiped the letter. Unfolding its edges, he smoothed the crinkles of delicate text. Sprinkled with miniature hearts was a message for his eyes only.

David,

I like me better when I’m with you.

XO,

Emma

His chest expanded as his heart swelled like a balloon. She wanted him to know that she was thinking of him, going out of her way to instill that message into him at he started his day. Folding the paper back up, he wedged it into the inside pocket of his jacket. Tapping the concealed note against his chest, he hurried to work to busy himself until he saw her again.


Until next post,

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Spark Prompts 17 – Freedom

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Here’s this week’s Spark Prompts to spark that creativity of yours. You can read my response below:


She rested her elbows against the table’s edge. Her spine popped as she sat up straight. A fake smile parted her lips.

“Because I say it will work,” she said.

He slicked back his dark brown hair. “You, my dear, are something else.”

His words rang through her ears like a resounding gong. Of course she was something else, something he didn’t even know. She pulled the edge of her sleeves over her silvery scales.

Something else, indeed.

“Divina, I am willing to help in any way I can, but what I can’t do is promise that I will never see you again.” He scratched the corner of his mouth. “Why is that part of the bargain?”

She wanted to scream at the top of her lungs, confessing to him that she wasn’t human. She could peel the itchy fabric from her body, blind him with her pearlescent scales, but she resisted the urge.

He doesn’t deserve to know.

“Javen, I have held u my end of the bargain. I ensured safe travels for you and your men from one port to the next. I have put up with your crew, their bickering questions and their ravenous appetites. I have endured the blistering heat without so much as a complaint from my lips. You and your men will go about your way as soon as you pay me and then I will go off on my own. No one will have even known of our agreement which is why it’s best to part our ways for good.”

He narrowed his eyes. “It’s not as simple as you say.”

She stared back at him as her fingers trembled under the table. She was so close to being free again that the thought of running was almost too tempting.

Almost.

“I am an honest man.” He reached into the breast pocket on his jacket. He retrieved a blank canvas sack. Tossing it on the table, a clank of metal perked her ears. She snatched up the pouch before he had time to change his mind.

“Thank you,” she said as she stood.

She tugged at her sleeves, knowing full well soon she could rid herself of her façade, shredding her clothes into bits before returning to the sea in her naked form. She eyed the door behind Jalen.

So close.

A tight grip on her wrist stopped her. She looked down at his hair knuckles wrapped around her. Fear sliced her heart in two.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

His grin returned. “Did you honestly think I didn’t know what you are, Divina?”

She gulped down regret of ever speaking with this man. Looking back at the door, tears licked her lower lid. The sea would have to wait – she had yet to claim her freedom.


Have a response of your own? Feel free to share it in the comment section. I’d love to read it!

Until next post,

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Spark Prompts 16 – Past vs Future

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We are still trying to develop the technology to time travel, but it doesn’t stop us from dreaming. Venturing to the past could provide us the opportunity to fix our wrongdoings. Glimpsing at the future might spur us to make different decisions in present time. If given the opportunity, which would you rather choose to travel to? Here’s my character’s response:


Amaya looked back and forth at the doors in front of her. She scraped her cuticles with her thumbnail. She had one chance, one path to decide for herself.

She glanced at the door to her left. The crisp carving of “PAST” centered in the wood brought about reflection within her. If she chose to go back then perhaps she could save her brother from his demons. Maybe she could steer him in another direction, one which would be a better future for them both. She scratched her chestnut hairline. A chill ran down her spine.

If she went back in time, she’d have to fight her own demons.

She shook the thought away and looked to the door on the right. The smooth chrome lettering of “FUTURE” struck her eye. Perhaps looking to the future would be more beneficial to her. Maybe she could see that her brother was in a better place, away from the pain and sorrow he was tormented with. But would her presence alone alter either timeframe? She didn’t care; her mind was made up.

She stepped up to the metallic door. Cocking her head, she looked for the door handle to no avail. The future was already proving to be a challenge. She took another step forward with a cautious outstretched hand in front of her. Amaya let out a yelp once her fingertips slipped through the cool metal door.

Long blades meadow grass tickled her calves. The clear blue sky shone like the ocean. Crisp, clean air filled her lungs as she inhaled. Her eyes scanned the vacant plain for any sign of human life.

Where had everyone gone?

The warmth of the sun grazed the back of her neck as she trekked on. The blades of grass bent back with each of her steps, setting a path in place. Questions jumbled together in her mind, tangling upon each other like a ball of yarn.

Where am I? What happened? What year is this?

The clanking of broken glass diverted her attention. She looked up to see a hole in the sky, blue pixels plummeting toward the ground. She stood there with her mouth agape as a blue cube grew in size, coming straight for her. Her knees buckled but her feet remained planted as if her shoes were made of cement. She closed her eyes, accepting her future would end right there.

A blur of light green collided with her. Amaya rolled on top of the grass, a plume of rust-colored dirt wafting in the air. She opened her eyes to see a familiar face hovering over her.

“Alec?”

He stood from the grass and extended his hand. “Amaya, you’re not supposed to be here!”

She grabbed his hand and allowed him to pull her back up to her feet. Pointing to his military garb, she shook her head in disbelief.

“Alec, what’s happening? Are you a solider now?”

Her brother didn’t answer and instead looked up at the sky. Another blast from an unknown object sent more blue pixels tumbling down. He grabbed her hand and tugged her to the right.

“We have to get you out of here, sister,” he said.

They darted through the field, jumping over gopher holes and dodging debris. Amaya’s heart pounded in her ears as her breaths drew to sharp inhales. Alec pulled her the trunk of a fallen oak tree.

“Alec, what the hell is going on?” She crouched down as she pulled loose strands of hair from her mouth.

“Earth is no more. We’ve been reassigned here to Paradigm,” he explained.

Her forehead crinkled.  “What do you mean reassigned?”

His arm shot out as he forced her to duck, the boom of impact shaking the ground and reverberating in their ears.

“You need to go back. You can change all of this, Amaya. You need to find me and get me back home,” he warned.

Amaya shook her head, the ends of her hair billowing like silk in the wind. “I – I don’t know how to go back.”

“Close your eyes. Focus. Think about home,” he instructed.

She cupped her hands over her ears to drown out the deafening chaos around her. She formed the image of her room in her mind, the squeaky floorboards, the cracked walls, and the scent of cheap cinnamon. Her breathing slowed as she crossed her legs, resting her elbows on her knees. She imagined sitting on the floor of their living room, the hardwood making her shins sore.

Then the world went silent.

She opened her eyes. The coolness of the outside world crept in through the cracks in the walls. A rush of cinnamon wafted through the air. She smiled as she looked around the familiar room. She was home, just as Alec told her she would be.

Alec.

She jumped up to her feet. Racing to the door, she grabbed the set of keys hanging from the placard on the wall.

“I’ll find you, brother,” she said before slipping out the front door.


Maybe traveling to the future could unlock the direction we need after all.

I hope you enjoyed this response. Have one of your own? Feel free to share!

Until next post,

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Spark Prompts 15 – The Sea

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The sea is vast and mysterious. Much of it is left uncharted. This week allow your characters to try and explain its mystery. Here’s my response:


Her gray eyes flashed at Melinda making her insides twist like a dish rag. The mystery of the sea was something people accepted out of fear, but if this lady knew anything to save her sister, Melinda was all ears.

“What’s happening to our people?”

The old woman chuckled behind her silver disheveled hair. She wiped the tip of her crooked nose before pointing her bony finger at Melinda.

“You really are a sheltered girl, aren’t you? Parents these days forgetting the legends of our ancestors. It’s a disgrace!”

Melinda took a step back from the woman, clutching the line of buttons on her cotton blouse as a means of safety. Her parents never told her anything about a legend. What else could they be hiding from her?

Melinda shifted her gaze out the small window of the woman’s cottage. “What legend are you talking about?”

Shuffling to the window, the woman pulled back the ratted curtain. Waves crashed in the distance, their melodic symphony filtering through the cracks of the cottage’s thin walls. She stared back at Melinda with wild eyes.

“Have you ever heard of a Populith?”

Melinda crinkled her tanned forehead. “A P- Populith?”

The old lady tapped the glass window. “It is a creature that lives out in the depths of the ocean. Half squid and half man, this creature lurks about with the strength of a dozen ox. Although it feeds on shellfish, its hunger remains unsatisfied and so it ventures to the shore in the hopes of consuming two-legged creatures.”

She gave the woman an incredulous look as she attempted to ascertain the validity of her claim.

“You’re trying to tell me this half squid/half man is responsible for the missing people? Is that who took my sister?”

The shrug of the old lady scratched Melinda’s anger. “Ma’am, I don’t have time for uncertainties. If this Pop-u-whatever has my sister, I need to know how to get rid of it and get my sister back. Tell me everything you know.”

Gray eyebrows perked up at her. “That tenacious attitude of yours reminds me of someone.”

Melinda huffed as she crossed her arms. “Tell me the legend.”

The old woman pointed to a spot on her crocheted rug. Pops and cracks of aging joints pierced Melinda’s ears as the woman sat on the floor. She hurried to the rug and squat down with anxious ears.

“There once was a sailor who decided to embark on the journey to capture The Great Squid. Legend has it that he successfully trapped the squid with a crew of only four men. Pride robbed him of his celebration once The Great Squid escaped from the net and threw him overboard. In the wrestle of man versus squid, the great gods doomed the sailor to life under sea for his pride. The two creatures formed as one. The heart of the envious man seeks to destroy all who get close to the sea as it knows it will never return to life on land.”

Melinda brushed back wispy bits of her black hair that tickled her eyelashes. “And does this legend mention how one can kill it?”

“Ah, that is where the legend ends! Our ancestors kept the legend alive for generations, but it appears that is no longer so. My advice would be to avoid any pride less you become one with the sea as well.”

Melinda flared her nostrils as she stood. This woman was crazy. Not an ounce of logic contained in the bony lady! Lifting her skirts, she rushed to the door as her mind reeled over other possible ways of finding her sister.

“Melinda, wait!”

She sighed as she resisted the urge to slam the door on her way out. She looked at the wooden door before she turned around.

The old woman approached her with the warmth of a grandmother. Her wrinkled hand rested upon Melinda’s forearm.

“You are not like the others, Melinda. There is something about you, something as mysterious as the sea. I can feel it in my bones.” Her gray eyes peered up at her. “I believe you are the only one who can take down the Populith, but first you need to learn how to unlock your magic.”

Melinda’s eyelids peeled back. “Magic?”

The elderly woman nodded. “Please, let me show you.”


Until next post,

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Spark Prompts 14 – Mother

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This week is dedicated to mothers. Whether fictional or real, what’s something a mother character would always say? Here’s my response:


Fumbling with the edges of my thumbnail is all I can do at this point. The ticking of the clock on the wall fills in the gaps of silence between us. My eyes burn from all the tears I’ve cried. It’s not something I used to, but I hate every moment of it. A heavy heart presses into my chest like a brick. No matter how old or young, a sorrowful child craves their mother’s embrace.

“I don’t know what to do,” I admit through sobs.

Her gentle hand slides across the top of my own, bringing that warmth of hers I cling to. I need her guidance. I need her wisdom. Maybe lingering in her presence for another moment will slough off this sadness that sticks to me.

“We can’t change people,” she says, “no matter how hard we try.”

She brushes away another tear that falls from my puffy eyes. It must pain her to see her daughter upset. I force a soft smile with my lips pursed, holding back any words that would conflict with her teachings.

“Life’s too short to be miserable,” she whispers in my ear.

My eyes widen as she pulls away. The weight of sadness lifts from my slumped shoulders. Her words repeat again my ears.

Life’s too short to be miserable.

“You’re right.”

She greets me with a proud smile as my cries dissipate. Her arms wrap around me, protecting me from the responsibilities and obligations my anxiety tries to remind me of. In this moment here with her is exactly where I need to be.


There you have it! Short, sweet, and to the point. 🙂

Until next post,

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Spark Prompts 13 – Adventures

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Adventure waits for your characters this week. Where will they find themselves? Here’s my response:


Devon shoved his hands in his pockets. They stood on the corner of the street waiting for the pedestrian light to shine. He kicked the pavement sending peddles flying into the street of rushing cars. Charlie never led him on enjoyable adventures. Most of them involved him being the bait to monsters, often ending with them running for their lives. Despite his hatred for these adventures, he couldn’t leave his younger brother to fight demons himself.

“Well, what is it this time?”

His brother gave him a sly smirk. Tossing his light brown away from his face, he cocked his brow.

“Well?”

Charlie leaned into his side. “We’re looking for a tormented soul. Apparently, this one’s been wreaking havoc this side of the Mississippi for about a week. Snatching bodies and leaving a trace of its sinister self in each victim has left the small towns in a state of hysteria. People are packing into churches like sardines all trying to debate whether this is the end of times or some bullshit.”

Devon clenched his jaw. “And how are we to find this tormented soul you speak of?”

Charlie tapped on his jacket pocket. “I have my ways.”

His eyes rolled as he looked up at the sky. “Of course. You and your ways.”

The streetlight changed and begged them to enter the walkway. They walked together not looking at each other, but rather looking at the faces of those they passed by. Being in the demon hunting game for long enough led them to keep a close eye on strangers. Devon rolled a piece of quartz in his pocket, allowing it to slip between his fingers but always maintaining contact in the event he needed to use it for protection against the underworld and all who inhabited it.

“Where are we going?” Devon asked as they stepped onto sidewalk of the other side of the street.

Charlie pointed at the shop a block ahead. A bright orange sign painted with a mug displayed in bold lettering “Sustain.”

“It seems as though these damned souls obsess about coffee like the rest of us.”

Devon let out a chuckle. At least this adventure involved a treat. The morning began to fade into the afternoon, but their long nights always left Devon wanting more caffeine.

Charlie stopped in front of the coffee shop’s door. He forced an open hand in front of Devon stopping him from entering. Devon looked down at him with disgust.

“What now?”

“Don’t you want to know exactly what we’re looking for, brother? Gosh, it’s like you want to get this over faster than I do,” Charlie said.

Devon shrugged as he looked down the street and then back at his brother. “Okay, what do I need to know?”

“This demon could be in anyone in there. It reeks of honey, which I know is too pleasant of a smell for evil. Be on the lookout for anything odd, stranger demeanor of patrons because this one’s got quite the temper.” Charlie jabbed Devon in the shoulder. “But be careful. This demon transfers into bodies by a simple look. Staring too long back at them ensures you’ll be the next victim, so don’t be stupid.”

Devon shook his head. “Mom always said I was the one with the brains.”

Charlie scoffed as he pulled the door open to allow them to slip inside the shop. The scent of chocolate and tobacco swirled through the room. No more than a dozen people lounged about the café slurping coffee in between conversations. Devon followed his brother to the counter while taking note of those around him. A disheveled man with a beard down to his belly scratched continuously underneath his beanie. No, too easy. This demon would be clever enough not to go for an obvious target.

Devon looked up at the barista as Charlie mumbled an order for two coffees. Nothing unusual about the perky blonde behind the counter. Being that close to copious amounts of coffee was enough to supply a continuous caffeinated high. He rubbed the quartz in his pocket as he looked to his right.

It was then he saw her.

Pressed into the corner of the room sat a woman with straight chestnut hair. Sipping her coffee, she worked a pen on paper with the grace of a dancer. She looked up at him as time seemed to freeze.

Thick, black lashes outlined her hazel eyes, greens and browns colliding together like camouflage. Raspberry-colored lips parted as she lifted the mug to take another sip. A bat of her eyelashes greeted him like a warm hug. He swallowed hard, forcing back his thoughts before they spewed over his lips. She was beautiful in the most dangerous way.

Maybe they were on the hunt for a demon, but Devon decided he had enough time for a cup of coffee. This provided him with the ability to scan the room from a different angle. What harm could be done? He removed himself from the line as his brother mumbled something to him. It didn’t matter. His brother’s words could wait.

His sneakers squeaked against the polished concrete floor as he walked toward her. Nerves tingled up his spine causing him to break away from staring at her. He cursed himself for acting like a nervous seventh grader, but the fluttering of his stomach persisted. Reaching her table, he pointed to the empty seat across from her.

“Hey, do you mind if I join you?”

Her smile answered him. Taking a seat, he surprised himself at his boldness. He looked back at Charlie who was shaking his head with wild eyes. Licking his lips, the scent of sweet, sticky honey overpowered the coffee-stained walls. Fear infiltrated throughout the room hitting his core with a thud. A low growl emanated from across the table. Wincing, Devon turned around to see the woman’s irises change into pools of ink.

Once again, bait for the underworld.


I hope you enjoyed this adventure. Got a response of your own? Please share!

Until next post,

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#LennReads – Review of Drifting

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I was pleased to be able to read an ARC (advanced reader’s copy) of Drifting, the next book in the Sinking trilogy by Sarah Armstrong Garner which releases this week. You can read my review of Sinking here.

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Once again, how gorgeous is this cover?! The journey continues and I’m happy to give you a spoiler-free review for you guys.

The story picks up right after the ending of the first book and continues to thrill readers. Here are the major things you can expect in the second book:

  1. Setting. Much of the setting of Drifting takes place under sea. As Jocelyn has transformed back into a mermaid, you get to discover the underworld life of the merworld. Here you will be surprised by the complexity and whimsy of the origin of the mermaids. Sarah Armstrong Garner does an exquisite job integrating life on land into the sea with a mix of familiar surroundings and impressive magical technology. You’ll find yourself wishing you could become a mermaid yourself.
  2. A Love Triangle. As Jocelyn returns to the sea, she begins to wrestle with if she should return to her former lover or pursue her newest love who lives on land. As you read the story you will find yourself siding with either Team Benlar or Team Aidan. I will admit that I wrestled with which one I think Jocelyn should choose, but I’ll let you decide for yourself. 🙂
  3. Profound Characters Arcs. The biggest difference Drifting offers is the progression of characters. The Jocelyn of land is different from the Jocelyn of the sea. As she continues to learn more about her backstory under water you’ll discover the power she possesses. Then there’s Aidan. Searching for his long lost lover causes a unique change about him. There were several instances I found myself shocked in his demeanor which only made me turn the pages quicker. Love makes us do crazy things and Aidan shows us how true that is.
  4. The Hook. If you could hear me read the ending you would hear squeals and gasps. Once again, Sarah Armstrong Garner works her magic of alluring readers with a wonderful plot all while leaving you wanting more. I’ll just say you will be so shocked when you discover – nope, nope. I’ll refrain from ruining it for you. You’ll just have to read it for yourself. I will say that I am left drumming my fingers in anticipation for the final installment of the trilogy.

Overall Impression: It’s not often sequels live up to the debut, but Sarah Armstrong Garner does an excellent job exceeding the expectations of readers. Drifting discloses a unique spin on mermaid folklore with interesting characters and wonderful worldbuilding. Captivating and mesmerizing, you’ll fall in love with the story further and be anxious for the fate of Jocelyn and those she loves.

My rating: 5 stars.

If you would like to participate in the launch of Drifting, be sure to join the Facebook online party taking place this Thursday, April 26, 2018 at 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm PST. For details, see https://www.facebook.com/events/2073513532931487

For more details about the Sinking trilogy, visit her website at www.SarahArmstrongGarner.com

Until next post,

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