Archive for the ‘community story’ Category

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Join in the Community Story

April 13, 2009

A late Community Story post today. Been busy, but I’ll have more for you tomorrow on my query letter journey. Now, let’s get right to the Community Story.

No one ventured into the Community Story waters last week, so I’ll just post my next addition.

If you’re new to the Day By Day Writer Community Story, click here for the full story so far. It was started by readers voting on a number of story starts, also submitted by readers. Every Monday I post a new addition, and throughout the week, readers can add what they think should be next in a comment post.

Without further ado, here’s the most recent bits and this week’s new addition.

Bonnie tried to speak, but her throat was dry.

What did this woman want? It had been 13 years since Bonnie had escaped, 13 years since she discovered her so called “cause” wasn’t anything more than an excuse for blood-hungry psycopaths to murder and pillage.

Bonnie gulped. It was so hard to believe she had been part of those horrors. She never regretted leaving. She never regretted telling the police. But then again, she never thought they’d find her again.

Now she had one choice, pretend she wasn’t the whistleblower that broke apart their criminal organization and go along with whatever plans they have in store for her, or resist. She knew her Star Trek well, and although these people weren’t the Borg, Bonnie figured option number 1 was best — for now.

“S’pose you want some water,” the voice said, thrusting a Heinz tomato sauce can in Bonnie’s face. “I rinsed it out first. Don’t have any proper cups.”

Bonnie took it and gulped the water, immediately feeling better. She handed the can back to the woman with a nod for more.

“Good thing we found you,” the woman said. “Gecko’s guys were right on your tail, and they won’t be nearly as forgiving as we will be.”

The woman refilled the can, and Bonnie drank again, feeling her energy returning with every drop.

She looked around. The only door was behind the woman, and the grimy windows were too high and too small for her to crawl through. She wondered where she was. She knew asking would be a waste of time, but she decided to try it anyway.

“Where am I?” she asked, her voice still cracking.

“Over the rainbow,” the woman said. She grinned, revealing yellowed teeth with a gap where one was missing at the front. “They’ll be here soon. Relax. They’ve all missed you.”

What’s next? You decide. Post the next part as a comment and it will be included in the full story next Monday.

Write On!

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Dealing with doubts, and Community Story

April 6, 2009

First my update, and it ends with a goodie. Last week, I said my revision was zooming along. By mid-week, I was back to feeling insecure about the story. Doubts were cloudy my mind. Will people get it? Will people other than me think it’s good? Will they be entertained? Will they understand everything that’s going on? Will they think it’s cheesy? For some reason, I had a real fear that people would think my story is cheesy.

I know I’m not alone in these thoughts. When I read Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird, I was surprised and comforted to find that she has the same doubts every time she writes. Maybe she doesn’t think her work is cheesy, but that’s just how my mind works. All writers have doubts. They have them during the first draft, the second, the tenth. They have them at the beginning of the story, the middle and the end. I’m sure published writers had doubts cross their minds the day before their book was put on shelves. It’s just the nature of who we are and what we do. We create something and send it out into the world. It’s our child. Of course, we’re going to worry about it. The truth is that it’s bound to come back a little bruised, but hopefully, it gets more loving than bruising.

My biggest problem was that no one other than me had read past the middle, and the middle of my novel has a turning point that changes the story quite a bit. My critique group, with only five pages each session, isn’t at that point yet. So here I was, getting to the end of what I wanted to be my final revision/polish round, and I had no feedback on this all important crossing point in the middle of the book. I also didn’t have any idea if the finale worked for anyone other than myself. And I’m too close to the story. I know things that are not written on the page, so it’s easier for me to think it works. I needed someone else’s opinion.

This weekend, I got that — and now I feel much better.

My husband, a really good writer in his own right, although he doesn’t do it for a career, had read early drafts of the beginning of the book, but as I was making so many changes, he asked to read it when I was done, when I was happy with it. Last week, I told him I was going to be done by the weekend. So, on Saturday, I printed out the first 200 pages, and he read while I finished editing the last 26 pages, which I had been working on for the last couple days.

In one sitting, which is unusual for my husband for any book, he read the whole thing, then when he got to page 200 and I hadn’t yet delivered the rest of the manuscript, he came running down to my office to see if I was done editing. Honestly, he looked like a kid waiting for his birthday cake. It was cute. But I wasn’t sure if that was a sign of, “I love it,” or “I really want to be done with this so I can do something else.”

Well, all my doubts went away when he was done. He told me he loved it. And then I barraged him with questions, and we had a good discussion about all kinds of aspects of the book.

I feel much better now that I have confirmation from someone else that the story works for them too. (Ordinarily, I would steer people away from using their husband or any family member as a gauge for a work’s validity, but in my case, my husband will tell me when I can do better. He has in the past. It hurt, but he was right. And a friend from my critique group is reading it too, so when she’s done, I’ll have more than one opinion.)

So now, I still have some finishing touches to do, but then I’ll be good with it. After I’ve written a query letter and synopsis — which will probably take me another couple months to fine-tune — I’ll send out the manuscript.

As I lay in bed trying to sleep Saturday night, I was thinking about the fact that I’ll be sending out this book soon. Those doubts crept in all over again — guess they never truly go away — but this time, there were fewer of them.

Do you have doubts? How do you deal with them?

Now onto the next installment of the Community Story. Anyone got a better name, other than Community Story? And let me know if you’re enjoying it.

The last couple sections are first, then I’ve added my next bit at the end. No adds from you guys for last week, so make this your week to join in the fun. Post what you think should come next in the comments section. If you’re new to the Community Story, click here for the full thing so far. Or if time is tight — because you should be writing — just make it up. It’s only for fun.

Bonnie tried to speak, but her throat was dry.

What did this woman want? It had been 13 years since Bonnie had escaped, 13 years since she discovered her so called “cause” wasn’t anything more than an excuse for blood-hungry psycopaths to murder and pillage.

Bonnie gulped. It was so hard to believe she had been part of those horrors. She never regretted leaving. She never regretted telling the police. But then again, she never thought they’d find her again.

Now she had one choice, pretend she wasn’t the whistleblower that broke apart their criminal organization and go along with whatever plans they have in store for her, or resist. She knew her Star Trek well, and although these people weren’t the Borg, Bonnie figured option number 1 was best — for now.

“S’pose you want some water,” the voice said, thrusting a Heinz tomato sauce can in Bonnie’s face. “I rinsed it out first. Don’t have any proper cups.”

Bonnie took it and gulped the water, immediately feeling better. She handed the can back to the woman with a nod for more.

“Good thing we found you,” the woman said. “Gecko’s guys were right on your tail, and they won’t be nearly as forgiving as we will be.”

The woman refilled the can, and Bonnie drank again, feeling her energy returning with every drop.

She looked around. The only door was behind the woman, and the grimy windows were too high and too small for her to crawl through. She wondered where she was. She knew asking would be a waste of time, but she decided to try it anyway.

“Where am I?” she asked, her voice still cracking.

What’s happening next? You decide. Post the next section in the comments and it’ll be added to the story next Monday.

Write On!

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Join the Community Story – March 30

March 30, 2009

I must admit, I feel great. I’m on pace to finish my polish by the end of this week, and I can feel the excitement welling up. That excitement seems to also be helping me wake up early to write. I woke up at 6:45 with no alarm on Sunday and 5:45 this morning. It’s good when the writing is flowing.

Of course, that excitement also has a lot of nervousness mixed in, as once I’m finished with this polish — and a few more changes after I get notes from a couple friends who are reading the whole book — I’ll be sending it out to agents and editors for the first time. Shiver.

How is your writing going?

In the meantime, it’s Monday again, which means time to add to the Community Story. If you’re new to this, the Community Story started after readers voted on a bunch of story starters submitted by myself and more readers. Each Monday, I add a paragraph or two to the story, but in between, you can add your own paragraph or two to continue the story. Each Monday, before I add my bit, I’ll put your addition into the story, then continue based on what you’ve written. It’s a fun collaboration. It’s not for publication any where other than this blog, so you can get as silly and as whacky as you want with your additions. Click here to read the full story so far.

Below are the last couple additions to the story, plus my addition for this week.

Bonnie tried to speak, but her throat was dry.

What did this woman want? It had been 13 years since Bonnie had escaped, 13 years since she discovered her so called “cause” wasn’t anything more than an excuse for blood-hungry psycopaths to murder and pillage.

Bonnie gulped. It was so hard to believe she had been part of those horrors. She never regretted leaving. She never regretted telling the police. But then again, she never thought they’d find her again.

Now she had one choice, pretend she wasn’t the whistleblower that broke apart their criminal organization and go along with whatever plans they have in store for her, or resist. She knew her Star Trek well, and although these people weren’t the Borg, Bonnie figured option number 1 was best — for now.

“S’pose you want some water,” the voice said, thrusting a Heinz tomato sauce can in Bonnie’s face. “I rinsed it out first. Don’t have any proper cups.”

Bonnie took it and gulped the water, immediately feeling better. She handed the can back to the woman with a nod for more.

“Good thing we found you,” the woman said. “Gecko’s guys were right on your tail, and they won’t be nearly as forgiving as we will be.”

Da da da daaaaaaaaaaaaaaa… What will happen next? Add the next part as a comment.

Write On!

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Community Story update

March 23, 2009

A little late on the update today, but here goes.

If you haven’t been following our Community Story, you can find the whole story to date by clicking on the Community Story page link on the left on the Day By Day Writer home page.

For those of you following along, here’s last week’s addition plus a new one from me this week. Don’t leave without joining in the fun. Post a comment with what you think the next word, sentence, paragraph should be.

Bonnie tried to speak, but her throat was dry.

What did this woman want? It had been 13 years since Bonnie had escaped, 13 years since she discovered her so called “cause” wasn’t anything more than an excuse for blood-hungry psycopaths to murder and pillage.

Bonnie gulped. It was so hard to believe she had been part of those horrors. She never regretted leaving. She never regretted telling the police. But then again, she never thought they’d find her again.

Now she had one choice, pretend she wasn’t the whistleblower that broke apart their criminal organization and go along with whatever plans they have in store for her, or resist. She knew her Star Trek well, and although these people weren’t the Borg, Bonnie figured option number 1 was best — for now.

Your turn! Post what’s next and we’ll continue the fun next Monday.

Write On!

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Our story update

March 16, 2009

The next installment for the Community Story is below, but first here’s an update on my goals.

I lowered my six-chapter-a-week goal to four chapters a week, but to be honest, I’m not sure if I met it this week because I don’t remember where I left off last week. Despite that, however, the revision is going well. I have been getting through chapters, even though not as fast as I’d like. But I guess it’s better to go slower and get it right than to rush it. I im still on track to make my first deadline from the SCBWI Houston Editor’s Day at least.

And now on to your Community Story. The story has gotten quite long now, so I’ve created a page where the full story so far can always be found. You can get to it in the right nav bar on this blog’s main page. Or click here.

We have a nice long addition from Mand this week, which is in the second block. Thanks, Mand. It’s great to see how people can expand on the story. My new addition is the third block.

Join in the fun by posting the next part of the story in the comments.

Bonnie’s eyes flickered open as she laid on her back looking up at the sky. She caught a brief glimpse of a person moving away from a ledge 30 feet above her. Slightly dazed, she was not sure if she had fallen or been pushed, but what she did know was that her back was hurt and her head was throbbing from her fall. She lifted her right hand to her head. Wet. She was bleeding, and it didn’t feel like a cut that could be patched up with a Band Aid. It would have to wait, though. She could hear footsteps, and they were getting closer and more urgent.

Wincing against the pain that now radiated from her back as well as her head, Bonnie eased herself up to a sitting position and surveyed her surroundings. She had landed on a patch of soft grass nestled between two rock faces, and to her right was what looked like a drop off. She tried to stand, careful not to make any noise. But as her elbow buckled in pain, her hand knocked a small rock over the edge. She froze, waiting for the sound of the crash to alert the other people. But when no noise came, she looked over the edge and her head began to spin. The drop off was at least a hundred feet, ending in white caps of a rushing river.

Something hit the back of Bonnie’s head and she looked up. A rope had been thrown down from the ledge above her and a head was peering over the side. Panic rushed into Bonnie’s mind. “Climb up!” The head from above was shouting at her. But Bonnie didn’t know what to do. Was the head friend or foe? And really, what other choices did she have?

She grabbed the twisted rope and as she did, a FLASH popped into her mind. Wind rushed into her ears as she flew from the green Cadillac. Two quick glimpses of sky and earth and her face crunched against the rocky Tennessee soil.

That’s right. She had been in a car crash. No, not a crash, she remembered. She had jumped out of the car while it was still moving. But why would she do that? Or was she pushed? “Climb up!” the voice above her insisted again. Bonnie wished she could remember more.

The footsteps around the ledge were closer now and accompanied by shouts in a language Bonnie didn’t understand. She couldn’t see who owned the voices, but something told her they weren’t friendly. She wasn’t sure about the head above her either, but, as she looked over the hundred feet drop-off at the edge of her ridge, she knew she didn’t have much choice. She was going to have to trust someone — at least for now. Taking a deep breath, she grabbed the rope and began to pull.

Every muscle in her body ached as she dragged herself up the mountainside to the ledge above. She could see the head disappearing then appearing again. As she got closer, Bonnie realized there was concern in the person’s eyes. But still, she told herself, that doesn’t mean she can trust them. As her left hand reached for the edge of the ledge, her right hand balled into a fist, ready to strike as soon as she was on steady ground.

A hand reached over the ledge and pulled Bonnie up the last few feet. The head that had seemed so distant from below now looked strange. Bonnie had no recollection of this person whatsoever. She squinted, as though through slits she might get a better idea of who owned this face. A memory just began to poke into her brain, when everything went white and Bonnie collapsed on the floor.

The smell of wet newspaper filtered into her nose, pulling Bonnie from her daze.

Her eyes slid open like withered old windows to reveal a dark wet room of block concrete and hanging lawn equipment.

The only trace of life in this gray room was a small green plant standing as proudly as a three-inch plant could stand, almost as if the plant were in defiance of its terrible living condition.

Bonnie sat up, but her pounding brain quickly pulled her flat on her back again. She lay on a steel table, cold and slightly wet.

Her eyes opened again and then she heard footsteps.

A door creaked open, letting in a spray of bright sunshine that slapped Bonnie’s eyes. Then the door was slammed shut again. Bonnie could hear breathing, then shuffling of shoes on concrete. She wanted to scream. She wanted to get up and run. But her body was completely frozen.

“You awake?” said a voice.

A voice she knew. Knew from the old days. The old, bad days.

Urgent as the command was that her brain sent, her body would not obey. Only her eyes could widen, as sight confirmed that this was indeed the woman who had blighted so many years of her life.

She had suffered so many nights painfully awake, days trying to escape or ignore the flashbacks, months of therapy when the fifth or sixth employer, the supportive one, had suggested getting help, in the same conversation as he told her she was failing and they couldn’t keep her on.

Thirteen years. Thirteen years, this coming Saturday. And for nearly ten of those years Bonnie had felt it was behind her – never got rid of, but put away far enough that she’d managed to lead a life that was normal and even reasonably successful. To outside observers.

Now standing over her, with an expression that may have been triumph or may have been disgust, stood the woman who had haunted those years of terror and recovery. Whose name Bonnie and the police had never discovered. ‘Yes, good,’ said that mannish voice. ‘Awake already.’

* * *

‘And now she hasn’t got her phone on!’ grumbled the old woman, slumping heavily into her armchair. ‘That girl doesn’t ever think. What am I going to do now?’

‘She could have no signal, Mum. Try in a minute.’

‘She’s not like you, Mark. She doesn’t remember my needs. My only daughter…’

‘Paul O’Grady on in a minute,’ he interrupted before she could get tearful. ‘I’ll keep trying the phone while you enjoy your cup of tea.’

Privately he was beginning to worry. It wasn’t like Bonnie to forget Mum’s birthday.

* * *

Bonnie tried to speak, but her throat was dry.

What did this woman want? It had been 13 years since Bonnie had escaped, 13 years since she discovered her so called “cause” wasn’t anything more than an excuse for blood-hungry psycopaths to murder and pillage.

Bonnie gulped. It was so hard to believe she had been part of those horrors. She never regretted leaving. She never regretted telling the police. But then again, she never thought they’d find her again.

What’s going to happen next? You decide. Post your addition as a comment, and it will be included in the full story next week.

Write On!

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A story you can write too

March 9, 2009

It’s Community Story Monday again. But first, a check in with my goals.

Last week, I shortened my revision goal of six chapters a week to four. Then in the week, I only managed three. But I got up early today — I’m not sure why I was having so many problems getting up on time last week, but after losing an hour, I was able to get up at 5:30 — and finished revising another chapter. I’m on chapter 21 now, out of 33.

I also discovered something interesting last week. One scene wasn’t quite fitting in, so I took it out of the chapter it was in with the idea that I would put it back into the novel later when I found a better place. I moved onto the next chapter, and added into the scene a character who had been in the scene I took out. When I was done, I realized the new chapter achieved everything that it was supposed to achieve as well as what the scene I had taken out was supposed to achieve. So I didn’t need the scene I had taken out anymore. Sometimes, it helps to try new things. Most of the times, you’ll be surprised at the results.

Now onto the Community Story. As always, you can post what you think should be the next paragraph or sentence in the comments and they’ll be included next week. Below is the story so far, including Imatk’s addition posted in the comments in last Monday’s post. The last paragraph is this week’s addition from me.

Bonnie’s eyes flickered open as she laid on her back looking up at the sky. She caught a brief glimpse of a person moving away from a ledge 30 feet above her. Slightly dazed, she was not sure if she had fallen or been pushed, but what she did know was that her back was hurt and her head was throbbing from her fall. She lifted her right hand to her head. Wet. She was bleeding, and it didn’t feel like a cut that could be patched up with a Band Aid. It would have to wait, though. She could hear footsteps, and they were getting closer and more urgent.

Wincing against the pain that now radiated from her back as well as her head, Bonnie eased herself up to a sitting position and surveyed her surroundings. She had landed on a patch of soft grass nestled between two rock faces, and to her right was what looked like a drop off. She tried to stand, careful not to make any noise. But as her elbow buckled in pain, her hand knocked a small rock over the edge. She froze, waiting for the sound of the crash to alert the other people. But when no noise came, she looked over the edge and her head began to spin. The drop off was at least a hundred feet, ending in white caps of a rushing river.

Something hit the back of Bonnie’s head and she looked up. A rope had been thrown down from the ledge above her and a head was peering over the side. Panic rushed into Bonnie’s mind. “Climb up!” The head from above was shouting at her. But Bonnie didn’t know what to do. Was the head friend or foe? And really, what other choices did she have?

She grabbed the twisted rope and as she did, a FLASH popped into her mind. Wind rushed into her ears as she flew from the green Cadillac. Two quick glimpses of sky and earth and her face crunched against the rocky Tennessee soil.

That’s right. She had been in a car crash. No, not a crash, she remembered. She had jumped out of the car while it was still moving. But why would she do that? Or was she pushed? “Climb up!” the voice above her insisted again. Bonnie wished she could remember more.

The footsteps around the ledge were closer now and accompanied by shouts in a language Bonnie didn’t understand. She couldn’t see who owned the voices, but something told her they weren’t friendly. She wasn’t sure about the head above her either, but, as she looked over the hundred feet drop-off at the edge of her ridge, she knew she didn’t have much choice. She was going to have to trust someone — at least for now. Taking a deep breath, she grabbed the rope and began to pull.

Every muscle in her body ached as she dragged herself up the mountainside to the ledge above. She could see the head disappearing then appearing again. As she got closer, Bonnie realized there was concern in the person’s eyes. But still, she told herself, that doesn’t mean she can trust them. As her left hand reached for the edge of the ledge, her right hand balled into a fist, ready to strike as soon as she was on steady ground.

A hand reached over the ledge and pulled Bonnie up the last few feet. The head that had seemed so distant from below now looked strange. Bonnie had no recollection of this person whatsoever. She squinted, as though through slits she might get a better idea of who owned this face. A memory just began to poke into her brain, when everything went white and Bonnie collapsed on the floor.

The smell of wet newspaper filtered into her nose, pulling Bonnie from her daze.

Her eyes slid open like withered old windows to reveal a dark wet room of block concrete and hanging lawn equipment.

The only trace of life in this gray room was a small green plant standing as proudly as a three-inch plant could stand, almost as if the plant were in defiance of its terrible living condition.

Bonnie sat up, but her pounding brain quickly pulled her flat on her back again. She lay on a steel table, cold and slightly wet.

Her eyes opened again and then she heard footsteps.

A door creaked open, letting in a spray of bright sunshine that slapped Bonnie’s eyes. Then the door was slammed shut again. Bonnie could hear breathing, then shuffling of shoes on concrete. She wanted to scream. She wanted to get up and run. But her body was completely frozen.

“You awake?” said a voice.

The next part is yours. Post in the comments, what you think will come next.

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Community Story Monday

March 2, 2009

First about my goals. Had a bad week last week. Only got three chapters done. So, as I’ve missed my goal of six chapters for two weeks now, I’m going to revise the goal to four. I think part of the reason I’ve been missing my goal is too many late nights and not waking up early enough for my morning writing (I actually missed writing on Friday altogether), but also, I’m comparing with the first week of my novel polish when I did nine chapters, but those were chapters that had already been worked through a few times, and the ones I’m doing now aren’t in quite as good shape. So, new goal: 4 chapters a week. That means I should be done in about four and a half weeks from now, so, by the end of the first week in April. My first editor submission deadline from the SCBWI Houston Editor’s Day is Aug. 21, so that’s plenty of time.

And now, onto the Monday Community Story. The whole story so far is pasted below, with my latest addition in the last section. You can decide what happens next by posting a comment with what you think the next sentence or paragraph should be. That sentence or paragraph will become part of the full story next Monday.

Happy Community Storying…

Bonnie’s eyes flickered open as she laid on her back looking up at the sky. She caught a brief glimpse of a person moving away from a ledge 30 feet above her. Slightly dazed, she was not sure if she had fallen or been pushed, but what she did know was that her back was hurt and her head was throbbing from her fall. She lifted her right hand to her head. Wet. She was bleeding, and it didn’t feel like a cut that could be patched up with a Band Aid. It would have to wait, though. She could hear footsteps, and they were getting closer and more urgent.

Wincing against the pain that now radiated from her back as well as her head, Bonnie eased herself up to a sitting position and surveyed her surroundings. She had landed on a patch of soft grass nestled between two rock faces, and to her right was what looked like a drop off. She tried to stand, careful not to make any noise. But as her elbow buckled in pain, her hand knocked a small rock over the edge. She froze, waiting for the sound of the crash to alert the other people. But when no noise came, she looked over the edge and her head began to spin. The drop off was at least a hundred feet, ending in white caps of a rushing river.

Something hit the back of Bonnie’s head and she looked up. A rope had been thrown down from the ledge above her and a head was peering over the side. Panic rushed into Bonnie’s mind. “Climb up!” The head from above was shouting at her. But Bonnie didn’t know what to do. Was the head friend or foe? And really, what other choices did she have?

She grabbed the twisted rope and as she did, a FLASH popped into her mind. Wind rushed into her ears as she flew from the green Cadillac. Two quick glimpses of sky and earth and her face crunched against the rocky Tennessee soil.

That’s right. She had been in a car crash. No, not a crash, she remembered. She had jumped out of the car while it was still moving. But why would she do that? Or was she pushed? “Climb up!” the voice above her insisted again. Bonnie wished she could remember more.

The footsteps around the ledge were closer now and accompanied by shouts in a language Bonnie didn’t understand. She couldn’t see who owned the voices, but something told her they weren’t friendly. She wasn’t sure about the head above her either, but, as she looked over the hundred feet drop-off at the edge of her ridge, she knew she didn’t have much choice. She was going to have to trust someone — at least for now. Taking a deep breath, she grabbed the rope and began to pull.

Every muscle in her body ached as she dragged herself up the mountainside to the ledge above. She could see the head disappearing then appearing again. As she got closer, Bonnie realized there was concern in the person’s eyes. But still, she told herself, that doesn’t mean she can trust them. As her left hand reached for the edge of the ledge, her right hand balled into a fist, ready to strike as soon as she was on steady ground.

A hand reached over the ledge and pulled Bonnie up the last few feet. The head that had seemed so distant from below now looked strange. Bonnie had no recollection of this person whatsoever. She squinted, as though through slits she might get a better idea of who owned this face. A memory just began to poke into her brain, when everything went white and Bonnie collapsed on the floor.

The next part is up to you! Post the next sentence or paragraph in the comments and it’ll be included in the full story next Monday.

Write On!