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Hodgepodge of things. Contest entries, short stories, scenes, my newsletters and other ...
This book is a catchall for all those things that would make my portfolio unmanageable if I had them each in a separate item.

I'm keeping short stories and contest entries, scenes and newsletters, notes and random stuff in here.

If you were tagged in this item:

I write all of my newsletters for Writing.Com here first. Until those newsletters are published, they are set to PRIVATE. So, you might be tagged in an invisible/unaccessible item. Don't worry. It's nothing inappropriate. You will see it in the official Writing.Com newsletter on its release day.

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October 8, 2012 at 12:13am
October 8, 2012 at 12:13am
(Required Assignments. Click each assignment for detailed instructions.)

Monday, Oct. 01 - PREMISE

The premise of your novel summarizes the following: Who is(are) your protagonist(s)? What will happen to him/her/it/them? Why? How will it turn out? What does that tell us? Is there a moral to the story?

*Bullet* A “what if” question. Example: the movie Groundhog Day (1993): ‘What if you lived the same day over and over again?’
*Bullet* A theme or moral and how your storyline addresses it. Example: In this epic tale of love conquering fear, Carly must overcome her fear of flying to traverse the globe and pull Tom, the love of her life, back from death’s door.

*** STILL NEED A STORY IDEA? Try the writing tools at the bottom of the calendar. *Down*

Tuesday, Oct. 02 - OUTLINE #1

The first draft of your outline.
*Bullet* Using traditional outline format : Define what happens at the beginning, climax, and the end.
*Bullet* Using Index Cards (Paper or Electronic): Define your beginning, climax, and end. As you build your outline throughout October, you can easily shuffle around plot elements.
*Bullet* The Snowflake Method : Write a provocative one-sentence description of your story. Example from Randy Ingermanson’s Transgression : “A rogue physicist travels back in time to kill the apostle Paul.”

*** SEE ALSO: Outlining Tools in the Writing Tools section at the bottom of this calendar. *Down*

Wednesday, Oct. 03 - MARKETING EXERCISE

Describe your target audience. Identify a demographic profile including gender, race, age, disabilities, mobility, home ownership, employment status, education, income level, marital status, location and other commonly evaluated data. Explain in detail what aspects of your novel will appeal to this particular audience and why.

Thursday, Oct. 04 - DRAMATIS PERSONAE

Draft a list of your characters and write a brief profile on each one (first and last name, age, occupation or relation to main character(s) and rough physical description.) Keep your list handy for future updates throughout the Prep.

*** NEED CHARACTER NAMES? See the name generators at the bottom of the calendar. *Down*


Complete a character profile of your protagonist. The point of this exercise is for you to get to know your character inside and out before you write your novel. If you don't know your character, how can you expect it of your readers? Flesh out your pre-story character in detail. Keep in mind that your protagonist will grow in some way during your story.

*Bullet* By listing his/her attributes
*Bullet* By writing a description from the perspective of someone very close to your protagonist.


Write a story about your protagonist that takes place outside of your novel. Make your readers relate to him or her in such a way that we would be devastated if he or she were to experience conflict (which, ultimately, sometime in November, he/she will.) The object of the contest is to make your judges root for your protagonist! Simply put: the character we like best wins. If your protagonist is an assassin or someone similarly "unlikeable," never fear! I love Vlad Taltos, the professional assassin . You can make us love your character, too.

*Submit your BITEM or ENTRY link by 1200 noon WDC time on Sunday, Oct. 07 to compete. If you miss this deadline or choose not to compete, you may still post your assignment completion for the grand prize, per the standard Challenge guidelines.


Take a break or catch up.

BONUS: Complete a bonus assignment and earn extra prizes. Post your completed assignment in the forum and tell us what you did.

*** BONUS ASSIGNMENTS Choose one from the list at the bottom of the calendar. *Down*

Monday, Oct. 08 - CULTURAL SETTING

Describe the cultural, political and/or religious setting in your novel. What do your societies believe? In what practices do they engage? What kind of government rules your world? What laws or rules of society are in place? Who enforces them? How successful is enforcement of laws and rules?

Tuesday, Oct. 09 - OUTLINE REVISION #2

The second draft of your outline.
*Bullet* Using traditional outlining or index cards, write your climax and several key conflicts/disasters.
*Bullet* The Snowflake Method : Expand your sentence to a paragraph. Include the beginning, conflicts/disasters, climax, and end.

*** NEED DISASTERS? See the Plot Twists generator at the bottom of the calendar. *Down*

Wednesday, Oct. 10- SETTING #1 DRAWING

Get out your pencil (or Excel or Visio or Autocad if you're the nerdy type) and draw a physical sketch of any setting in your novel, which we will call Setting#1. This can be a map of a town, woods or valley, a layout of a room with furniture and walls, a floor plan of the castle, or any other physical setting. It doesn't matter if your art skills are lacking. Just get a feel for where obstacles and objects are in relation to one another.

Thursday, Oct. 11 - SETTING #1 DESCRIPTION

Describe Setting#1 (with words.) Use all five senses, and make your reader experience the setting as if he or she were there.


Complete a character profile of your antagonist (your "bad guy" - the character creating conflict for or your protagonist.) If your antagonist is a situation rather than a person, write about what it is and how it will create the narrative conflict.

Further clarification:
- Wikipedia's definition of Narrative Conflict http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conflict_%28narrative%29
- Newsletter Article: "When The Bad Guy Isn't a Person" http://www.writing.com/main/newsletters/action/archives/id/4663-When-The-Bad-Guy...
- "ANTAGONIST (Re: A LOT of confusing things)" http://www.writing.com/main/forums/action/view/message_id/1795089


Write a story about your antagonist that takes place outside of your novel. Make your reader empathize with the motivations of the antagonist. If your antagonist is a situation rather than a person, write a background story about that.

*Submit your BITEM or ENTRY link by 1200 noon WDC time on Sunday, Oct. 14 to compete. If you miss this deadline or choose not to compete, you may still post your assignment completion for the grand prize per the standard Challenge guidelines.


Take a break or catch up.

BONUS: Complete a bonus assignment and earn extra prizes. Post your completed assignment in the forum and tell us what you did.

*** BONUS ASSIGNMENTS Choose one from the list at the bottom of the calendar. *Down*


Write a story that sets up your plot. EXAMPLE: The Lord of the Rings story revolves around the One Ring, its significance, and how it's destroyed. But how did Frodo get the One Ring in the first place? We learn that in The Hobbit. You obviously can't write a full-scale novel in 15 minutes, but you could write the scene where Bilbo encounters Gollum and stumbles across the ring. That would be a background story that sets up the plot in Lord of the Rings.

Tuesday, Oct. 16 - OUTLINE REVISION #3

The third draft of your outline.
*Bullet* Using traditional outlining or index cards, fill in some of the gaps and start developing subplots.
*Bullet* The Snowflake Method : Write a one-paragraph summery of each key character’s personal storyline.

Wednesday, Oct. 17 - MINOR #1 PROFILE

Write a character profile about a supporting or minor character, whom we shall call Minor #1. If you have a second protagonist or antagonist, use this assignment to profile that character.

Thursday, Oct. 18- MINOR #1 BACKGROUND STORY

Write a background story about Minor #1 (or your second protagonist or antagonist.)

Friday, Oct. 19 - SETTING #2 DRAWING

Complete a physical drawing of a second setting.


Describe Setting #2 with words. Use all five senses and make your reader experience the setting as if he or she were there.

*Submit your BITEM or ENTRY link by 1200 noon WDC time on Sunday, Oct. 21 to compete. If you miss this deadline or choose not to compete, you may still post your assignment completion for the grand prize per the standard Challenge guidelines.


Take a break or catch up.

BONUS: Complete a bonus assignment and earn extra prizes. Post your completed assignment in the forum and tell us what you did.

*** BONUS ASSIGNMENTS Choose one from the list at the bottom of the calendar. *Down*


Describe, in detail, an object critical to your story.

Tuesday, Oct. 23 - OUTLINE REVISION #4

The fourth draft of your outline.
*Bullet* Using traditional outlining or index cards, fill more gaps and flesh out subplots using traditional outline format. Optional: Add a timeline.
*Bullet* The Snowflake Method : Compile a synopsis of your story by expanding each sentence of your summary paragraph into its own full paragraph. All but the last paragraph (which describes the story ending) should close with a disaster.

Wednesday, Oct. 24 - MINOR #2 PROFILE

Write a character profile about supporting or minor character #2.

Thursday, Oct. 25 - MINOR #2 BACKGROUND STORY

Write a background story about supporting or minor character #2.


Write a list of all the things you tend to do to procrastinate and establish a schedule for the month of November outlining when you are and are not allowed to procrastinate. Schedule time to write and put your schedule in writing.


Write a commitment letter to yourself promising to do your best during the month of November and vowing to not allow distractions or procrastination to keep you from your goal. Explain in the letter why you are awesome, how you plan to complete NaNo 2011, and what you will do to celebrate when you win.

*Submit your BITEM or ENTRY link by 1200 noon WDC time on Sunday, Oct. 28 to compete. If you miss this deadline or choose not to compete, you may still post your assignment completion for the grand prize per the standard Challenge guidelines.


Take a break or catch up.

BONUS: Create your own assignment. Post your completed assignment in the forum and tell us what you did.

*** BONUS ASSIGNMENTS Choose one from the list at the bottom of the calendar. *Down*

Monday, Oct. 29 - OUTLINE REVISION #5

The fifth and final revision of your outline.
*Bullet* Using traditional outlining or index cards, flesh out the logistics of how your protagonist gets from the beginning of the story to the climax of the story. Add more timeline details and consider plotting out scenes by chapter.
*Bullet* The Snowflake Method : Using your synopsis, list the scenes needed to create your novel. Each scene should include the POV character and the action.

Tuesday, Oct. 30- SETTINGS LIST

Using your outline as a guide, list other settings in your novel. Sketch OR draft a brief description of each.


You are a journalist. The story of your novel is complete. Interview your protagonist and ask the following questions:
1. How did the events of your story change you?
2. How is life for you now?

Thursday Nov. 1 - NANOWRIMO BEGINS

Start writing your novel!

(Optional Assignments. Click each for instructions and prizes.)


Instructions: Spend 15 minutes developing history, geology, ecology, or maps for your world.
Prize: 2,000 GPs (per assignment completed, max one per freebie day)


Instructions: Profile another protagonist or antagonist.
Prize: 2,000 GPs (per assignment completed, max one per freebie day)


Instructions: Draft your query letter.
Prize: Query Review


Instructions: Enter the current round of "The Dialogue 500" [18+] using a main character.
Prize: A chance at a Dialogue Merit Badge
*Bullet* Include the words "NANO PREP" in your Dialog 500 forum post.
*Bullet* Include the date of the bonus round you're fulfilling in your D500 forum post.
*Bullet* Book Entries are eligible entries to the Dialogue 500 for this round.


Instructions: Test the time it takes you to write 1,667** words.
Prize: Membership in the elite "NaNoWriMo Sprint Writers Group" [E]
(1) Choose any character in your novel and brainstorm a new related background story.
(2) Set a timer and write for 15 minutes. Stop writing with the timer.
(3) Count the # words written in 15 minutes.
(4) MATH ALERT (sorry!): Divide 25,000 / # words.
(5) The result is the number of minutes required* to write 1,667** words.
(6) Finish the background story as needed.
* Not considering interruptions or fatigue.
**1,667 is the number of words per day required to reach 50,000 in 30 days.


Instructions: Create an assignment that helps you prepare your novel for writing.
Prize: 2,000 GPs (per assignment completed, max one per freebie day)
*Bullet* Work for at least 15 minutes on your assignment.
*Bullet* Report exactly what you did in your forum post.
*Bullet* Your activity is fair game for next year's bonus assignment list.

BONUS GRAND PRIZE: Earn a NaNoWriMo Unblock.

Complete four bonus assignments (one per freebie day) and earn a NaNoWriMo Unblock:

Say you get stuck during November. Your characters are in a rut. Your plot is spinning in circles. You can't find the motivation to get out of bed, let alone write 1,667 words today.

You're blocked.

Cash in your NaNoWriMo Unblock, and you get a sympathetic ear. A brainstorming partner. A kick in the rump. Whatever it takes to get you past your block.

(Optional tools to help you complete the assignments. Click each for more info.)


*Bullet*Brainstorming and Mind Mapping http://www.monash.edu.au/lls/llonline/quickrefs/25-brainstorming.xml
*Bullet*Free Mind Mapping Software http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page


*Bullet*Plot Generator http://funstuff.pantomimepony.co.uk/writers-plot-ideas.htm
*Bullet*First Line Generator http://funstuff.pantomimepony.co.uk/writers-first-lines.htm
*Bullet*Plot Twist Generator http://funstuff.pantomimepony.co.uk/writers-plot-twists.htm
*Bullet*Character Name Generator http://funstuff.pantomimepony.co.uk/writers-character-names.htm
*Bullet*Seventh Sanctum: Name and Fiction Generators http://www.seventhsanctum.com/index.php
*Bullet*Behind the Name: the etymology and history of first names http://www.behindthename.com/


*Bullet*Novel Outlining Worksheets http://www.creative-writing-now.com/novel-outline.html


*Bullet*NaNoWriMo Survival Guide http://www.lazette.net/Free%20Stuff/NaNo.htm
June 21, 2012 at 12:30am
June 21, 2012 at 12:30am
The car flipped on its side.
James held on the steering wheel with his gloved hands.
Even with his helmet elimination most of his peripheral vision, he saw the sparks coming from the metal of his car scraping on the concrete ground.
The car shredded over the finish line and came to a halt several yards behind it.
James climbed out of the driver's door completely unharmed.
Yes, he was last. He'd been driving a terribly uninspired race. Each of the fifteen laps wore him out more and more.
By the thirteenth lap, James was just about ready to pull over and stop caring. But he kept depressing the pedal and holding on to the steering wheel.
Walking up to his team, he raised his hands in winner pose.
No, he didn't win anything. Yes, his car was ripe for the junk yard. But he was alive, in full health, and he had held out for fifteen rounds.

June 20, 2012 at 2:26am
June 20, 2012 at 2:26am
Moss grows on the north side of a tree. If you are lost in a forest, look for the moss on the trees and then decide which direction to walk in. That's what they told me. They didn't tell me moss could grow all around the tree. Now which way do I go?

June 19, 2012 at 12:22am
June 19, 2012 at 12:22am
Since this morning, I wondered what to make out of an image showing a bundle of red-orange millipedes. Yeech. I hate them. I thought few things would make me gag, but this image grosses me out. I have to write something creative about it, but all that comes to mind is the desire to look away.

June 17, 2012 at 11:27pm
June 17, 2012 at 11:27pm
"Titanic 2. What a bust." Janet held on to the mast of the raft her and a handful of survivors had fashioned in the frigid waters right north of the polar circle.

June 17, 2012 at 1:52am
June 17, 2012 at 1:52am
Glass. I like that glass tunnel. It makes me want to walk through it.
It reminds me of the zoo in New Orleans. There isn't any tunnel like it, but the lush tropical greenery often made the light appear just like it is in this image. My first reaction upon seeing the image was to say out loud that I wanted to walk through it and to think inside that it reminded me of a woman I used to go to the zoo with.
We never became super close friends, but we went there together a few times with our young children. Her daughter was almost the exact same age as my son. Running after our toddlers and chatting away. She used to have clouds around her eyebrows. Her and the child's father were going through a long, drawn-out divorce and she lost both her parents only a couple of days apart during that time too. Last time I saw her, she had met a nice new partner who appeared to be just stunned to be with her. That was a few years ago too now, but I think they both have to be doing well with each other.
Mimi is her name. She makes a living writing articles for magazines. Funny, when I knew her, I would have never thought of myself as a writer, yet, here I am.

June 14, 2012 at 11:11pm
June 14, 2012 at 11:11pm
"You come with me now!"
Ace noticed Julian pointing a gun at her. She asked, "Where do you want me to go?"
His somber face broke into a wide smile. He let the gun dangle carelessly by his side. Walking up to her, he took put a hand behind her neck and pulled her close for a smooching kiss. "Time to go home."
"Yes," she breathed.

June 12, 2012 at 11:33pm
June 12, 2012 at 11:33pm
"So you turtles get really old, I hear."
"Who do you call old? You don't live very long, I hear."
"No need to get upset."
"Man, I'm too zen to get upset."
"Zen, eh. I had a cousin who wasn't zen at all."
"I heard of him. Went all the way to Sidney to get his son from some dentist's aquarium."
"Ha ha ha. That's fiction, man."
"I'm not a man."
"Sorry, woman."
"Ugh, I'm outta here."

"What's up duuuude?"
"This isn't a Disney movie! I'm not a dude!"
"Couldn't tell. You all look alike."
"You all taste the same too once I've got you in my beak."

June 8, 2012 at 10:39pm
June 8, 2012 at 10:39pm
Finally! The floodwater had receded. Well, not according to their parents, but the four boys couldn't stand sitting still one more minute after weeks of being stuck in the boats to live through the annual flooding. Life giving, their parents called. Boring, the children called it.
Now, it was over.
Sung-Ho called to his friends, "Let's play ball!"
Sung-Ho and his best friends ran out onto the field still covered with a couple of hands of water.
They didn't care. Covered in mud and their bright young faces red with excitement, they came home after hours of playing to their parents.
Mothers gently scolded over dirty shorts.
Fathers shook their heads over schoolwork going undone for the day.
But all were glad the wet season was almost over and the families could go back on land, rebuild their huts, and use the fertile silt to grow the harvest needed to survive next year's flooding on their boats.

June 7, 2012 at 11:09pm
June 7, 2012 at 11:09pm
Head: "I saw something!"
Dragon: "It's something small. Evil, I think."
Body: "Where is it? I can't see."
Head: "It's because I have the eyes, dummy."
Body: "Don't call me that! What would you float over without me? Nobody would take a pale floating head serious."
Dragon: "Stop arguing you two. We have to take care of the evil thing that ran through the room on the far end."
Head: "Body, zap it with your magic staff."
Body: "Is it edible? Can't Dragon hunt it?"
Dragon: "I am not going near that devil creature."
Head: "I think it's looking at us."
Body: "Let's run."
Dragon: "Yes, lets."

At the far end of the room, a little white mouse watches a dragon, a robed body with a long dangerously sparkling staff, and a pale floating head hastily run toward winding stairs to a different floor.
June 6, 2012 at 9:37am
June 6, 2012 at 9:37am
Celine was in the garden behind the house with her little watering can. Her plan was to carefully water the small patch of herbs her mother helped her to grow. Celine gently pushed the flowers that grew on the edge of her little patch aside. Mother would never use pesticides, but Celine knew to be on the lookout for snails and carefully carry them away from her patch.
As she pushed two flowers apart, a big green frog jumped up and onto the rock border of her garden.
Its skin appeared dull to Celine. Since she learned that frogs need to have wet skin to breathe through it, she decided to pour water over the frog.
As she reached for her watering can and kept her eyes on the frog, he jumped closer to her, causing her to dump the can over and spilling all the water onto the ground.
Panicked not to be able to wet the frog as he clearly needed, Celine grabbed her watering can and ran inside for more water.
When she returned, she found the frog happily splashing in the puddle she had inadvertently created before.
February 5, 2012 at 4:11pm
February 5, 2012 at 4:11pm
Titus took Jessica's hand and tenderly brought it up to his lips. He planted a soft kiss of the back of her hand. "I've been an ass. Forgive me."

She gave a tortured smile. "I've been a bitch. Will you forgive me?"

He pulled her close until her body was closely up against him. He put both arms around her. "We both had some growing up to do." He planted a soft kiss on her lips. "We're going to be okay, you, Daniel, and I."

February 5, 2012 at 4:08pm
February 5, 2012 at 4:08pm
About two thousand years ago, Mount Vesuvius blew its top and annihilated the town of Pompeii in a rain of lava and hot ashes. What was once a thriving city, was now dead. For hundreds, even thousands of years, the city stayed a myth. It wasn't until a man who was digging for a well found the hand of a statue that the city was found.
I wonder how many things are hidden in the ground that are now relegated to myth?
Are there things hidden in the sky?
In remote areas of the world?
In the ocean?
How much truth can there be to a creature such as the Yeti if for so long a time the city of Pompeii was thought to be the fabrication of a writer?

Pompeii proves that myths are true. At the least, each myth contains enough truth to make them real, even if story telling had its way with the original and changed it up until it wasn't even believable any longer.

Just recently, scientist found a frog in India that was believed to be extinct since the Ice Age.

Go Yeti.
Go Bigfoot.
Go Chuppa-Cabra.
Go all you creatures nobody want to believe in.

February 5, 2012 at 4:08pm
February 5, 2012 at 4:08pm
Nowadays, everything can be bought online.

Small things like electronics, things you should try on first such as pants and shoes. There are online shops that sell furniture and even houses.
You can also buy education online. There are online universities and even online public schools.

When you buy something in a brick and mortar store and you don't like it or it stops working, you bring it back, and, if needed, you can bitch out the manager. When you buy something online, you have to hope the sale goes smoothly. You have to hope your stuff ships in a timely manner. If you need help with any part of the transaction, you have to hope somebody either picks up the phone or answers emails.

Now, all of those things that can go wrong with buying tangible items can also go wrong when buying education online, especially when it replaces public education. Since you're not directly paying for it (you pay for it through taxes), the administrators make sport out of finding out just how long they can stretch it until they answer you.

Try calling a phone that never gets picked up.
Try sending an email that never gets answered.

Maddening enough when it's about an iPod. Really messed up when it's your child's education being squandered.

Moral of the story: Don't believe the hype. Ever.

February 5, 2012 at 4:06pm
February 5, 2012 at 4:06pm
After all that reconciling, Titus and Jessica stood together, arms around each other, in the living room. Titus felt glad things were going to be different from now on. Jessica was back with him. Daniel would now get to have a real family as he deserved. Jessica's relatives would stop being angry at him. He slowly eased his embrace around Jessica. "Are you hungry?"

She shook her head. "Mama made me eat at home. A big meal. You know how we eat at home."

He laughed. "I know." He put a finger under her chin and lifted it to look into her eyes. "Let's go to bed then."

She blushed and batted her eyelashes quickly. It was a nervous reaction. She whispered breathlessly, "Yes."

They went to the bedroom. A couple tonight. Titus undressed her and she held still. His voice raspy, he said, "Everything is different. We have to get to know each other again."

She tugged on his shirt to pull it over his head. Once his upper body was free of cloth, she slowly ran her hands over his ripped abs and bulging pecs. "I'll enjoy taking it slow with you this time." She opened his belt buckle and let his pants drop around his ankles. "Step out of those." Titus obliged.

He quickly shed his socks and boxers. He held a hand out for her to take. "Come to bed, love."

February 5, 2012 at 4:05pm
February 5, 2012 at 4:05pm
Steamed, Titus went back inside his house. He was angry at Alex, but he couldn't deny that Alex's accusation had merit. He had only himself to blame for Daniel's perception of his parents. He hit the speed dial for Jessica. As soon as she picked up, he snapped, "Your boyfriend just came here, taunting me. If you think this is going to work, think again!"

"I told him not to go to your house."

"He told me so. Didn't keep him from telling me it was my fault Daniel thinks he's the other daddy." Titus sat down on his couch and said quieter. "And he's right about it. I've got nobody but myself to blame. I'll bring Daniel home to you tomorrow. It'll take as long as it'll take for him to know he only has one father."
Jessica said, "I want to come over there. Did he cry again?"

"No. Daniel was asleep by the time he was in bed. I made him play and run all day long."

"My dad and uncle are on their way to your house."

"To beat me up?"

"To talk to you."

Titus snorted. "As if the officer and tío would make the journey to talk." At that moment, the doorbell rang. "There they are." Titus clicked the phone off and went to the door. He opened it. Jessica's father, a Los Angeles police officer, and her uncle, the pool guy, stood outside. Wordlessly, Titus opened the door wide to let them in. He waved to the table. The three men sat down.

"Titus," tío started, "You and Jessica are both not putting Daniel first."

"You get right to the heart of the matter, huh?"

Mr. Aragon, Jessica's father said, "We've watched your games for the past four years. It's time both of you grow up. Jessica broke up with that silly boyfriend of hers. Time for you to take your wife back into your home. No more of this separate living nonsense. Your son is not being raised properly. You are a disgrace to the family keeping another woman next to your wife. You are going to end this too."

Titus leaned back in his chair. He grinned. "I already have. Two weeks ago. Jessica didn't tell you?"

The two men shared a glance. Tío said, "She didn't. Either way. When do you want the truck and help to move her here?"

"You two aren't playing around."

"We're not." Jessica's father said sharply.

Titus leaned forward and took a minute to look each man sitting across from him a long and deep gaze in the eyes. "Jessica can come home tonight. We'll go pick up her clothes and personal belongings tomorrow in my station wagon. I'll rent the place out as a furnished apartment." He sat back and asked, "Okay with you?"

"Yes," the officer said. He picked up his phone and sent a text.

Less than a minute later, the front door opened and Jessica let herself in. Titus chuckled. He got off his chair and held his arms open for her. She came to him and hugged him back. Her father and uncle stood up. From the door, her father said, "No more games, hija. Mamá and I are tired of this nonsense. You picked him. Now you take him with his faults."

"Sí, papá," she said.

"Sí, papá," Titus echoed.

February 5, 2012 at 4:04pm
February 5, 2012 at 4:04pm
From Jessica’s home, Titus took Daniel straight to the beach. He kept Daniel busy through his usual nap-time and kept him running until the toddler was but a shell. Certain that Daniel wouldn’t give him trouble for going to sleep without his mother present, Titus took him home.

As he expected, Daniel snoozed off in his arms on the short way home. As he entered the yard through the front gate, he saw somebody sitting on the patio. Coming closer, he recognized Alex.

Titus whispered sharply, “I’m bringing my son inside. Then, it’s you and me.”

Daniel was too sleepy to stir during the diaper change or getting undressed and put into his pajama. Titus kissed him tenderly on his forehead before leaving the room. He stepped into the front yard.

“What do you want?”

Alex stood up. “I haven’t come for trouble.”

“Didn’t think so.” Titus crossed his arms in front of his chest. Taller, stronger, and a trained killer, Titus didn’t fear Alex one bit.

Alex bit his lips. “She asked me not to come here.”

“Why did you then?”

“Don’t keep the boy from her.”

Titus snorted. “She had him for three years. It’s my turn.”

“Neither she nor I told him to call me his other daddy. He said that by himself.”

“That makes it even worse. If that is the impression he has at his age, I’ve screwed around long enough. Time to show him who is his one and only father.”

Alex took a step backwards. “I don’t want that. I don’t want to take that from you. But ask yourself if you can with good conscience keep them apart for being angry at me.” He took another step toward the garden gate. “You have only yourself to blame for the way Daniel sees life.”

February 5, 2012 at 4:03pm
February 5, 2012 at 4:03pm
Dirty Bomb

Jessica stood leaning against the doorframe, watching Daniel play with a toy garage. Titus walked up and stopped right behind her. She felt his presence and said, "I like how you didn't get him a ton of toys. Just enough to make the room fun for him."

"I bet it'll fill up over time as we go on outings and bring things back."

She turned and looked up to him. "What made you change your mind on him?"

He shrugged his shoulders. He really didn't know for sure why Daniel was now more important to him. Right after his birth and for most of Daniel's first year, Titus did his best to pretend he had no child. Exiling Jessica to Culver City during her pregnancy helped him conceal the fact from his tenants and most friends. Daniel and Jessica were not part of his Venice Beach life. Until now.

Daniel stood up and walked up to Jessica. "When will my other daddy pick us up?"

Titus coughed. He couldn't believe what he just heard. Jessica's face turned dark red.

"Who is that?"

"That's what he calls Alex," Jessica whispered.

Titus turned on his heel and went to his bedroom. He came out with her dress and bra. "Time to get dressed. I'm driving you home."

The drive from Venice Beach to Culver City went by in silence. Jessica stared out of the window on her side of the car. Titus steered his Volvo through traffic with white knuckles on the wheel. Daniel hummed to himself, but didn't say anything either. Titus pulled into the parking lot of Jessica's condo complex and parked the car next to Jessica's. He went around the car and held the door open for her. She stepped out of the car and tried to open the back door to get Daniel.

"He stays with me until he knows who his daddy is."

"You can't take him from me!"

Inwardly, Titus hated himself, but he put a hand on the handle to the back door, pushed out his chest, and challenged her in a low snarl, "Try me."

February 5, 2012 at 4:02pm
February 5, 2012 at 4:02pm
The following is a mere scene. A visual I have in my head am trying to put words to.

The doorbell rang. Flint went to find out who it was. He had no memory of calling for delivered food, but then he was forgetful lately. He opened the door and found the most wondrous sight. Like an angel, come down from heaven just for him, an elf woman with friendly light-brown eyes and a pretty face framed by honey-blond hair, looked up to him. Too amazed to speak, Flint stood with the doorknob in hand.

She asked in a melodious voice, "Is this the residence of Flint Greenleaf?"

"That's me."

She smiled and held up her tablet for him to see the screen. It was a map with his address highlighted. "My agency got a call from you yesterday. You are in need of a live-in housekeeper?"

He blinked. He made such a call? When? How? Where did he get the number? Regardless of all those questions swirling in his mind, Flint heard himself say, "Yes, I need a housekeeper. Please come inside." He opened the door wide so she could step inside and led her to the kitchen. "I have to apologize for the state of things. I'm not feeling well, Miss." He gave her an asking look.

"My name is Amandine Vertoux."

"Uh, Flint Greenleaf. You knew that." Facepalm.

February 5, 2012 at 4:01pm
February 5, 2012 at 4:01pm
What to do when your neighbor's baby has a seizure.

Step one:
Find out if somebody is already calling 911. If not, call 911 while directing hysterical mother to perform step two.

Step two:
Secure baby on his right side on the floor. On a blanket if there is one. Yes, the floor. Who's already on the floor can't fall down in case of a new seizure. Think about it.

Step three:
Comfort crying mother. Talk to baby, no matter if lucid or not.

Step four:
Send all other children to a third neighbor.

Step five:
Clear the area of obstructions so emergency personnel have space for their equipment.

Step six:
Once emergency personnel works on child, make sure mom has shoes, her cell phone, and a little cash as she will be driven to the hospital with her baby on the gurney.

Step seven:
Inquire about child's well-being the next day.

Step eight:
Hug your children and thank the universe for no seizures.

If in any way possible, do not repeat or try at home.

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