People often ask me if I have any advice to new writers, to which my response is always one of three things. First…seek out books such as Stephen King's On Writing or even The Elements of Style. They are far greater resources than anything I could ever hope to share.

Second…read. Anything, everything. As Mr. King himself once opined, “If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time or the tools to write.”

Finally, and most obviously, write. Try new things. Switch points of view. Short stories, scripts, novels, doesn't matter. Just keep going.

To that end, a good friend of mine has been known to dabble a bit in writing and has recently taken to what she calls “free writing.” Just taking half an hour or so and pounding out whatever random snippet she comes up w/. I recently told her to send me the next one she does, at which point I'll respond, and back and forth we'll go.

What will it turn into? No idea. All we know for sure is every so often I'll post the newest addition and we'll see what happens. She is a quality, albeit VERY different writer than I am, so should be fun…

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Humidity clung to the air, sticky, hot and oppressive. Overhead, a ceiling fan beat with a persistent thudding. The cacophony of bird chirps and cricket humming tumbled forward, encroaching on the stagnant air with such mounting force that a moment longer on the front porch swing might have driven her mad.

In a single movement, she sat up from her wooden slatted boredom and peered off into the distance. A summer haziness comingled with the dusty horizon, blending the sky and ground; each indistinguishable from the other. Middle America: her own Elba Island. How could she possibly have thought this would be a good idea?

Bess's humming trailed from the kitchen through the front window. Kind, stout, well-intentioned Bess had an affinity for choosing floral patterned dresses, a desire to join the ranks of the church's Sunday bake exchange, and an aptitude for neither. The hissing of undercooked fruit filling splattering against the oven door prompted a graceful scuttling in the kitchen akin to approximately a dozen wayward flapping albatrosses attempting an uncertain landing.

Another pie bites the dust.

Slowly, she made her way across the front porch, heel to toe, deliberately drawing out each step with an undervalued and undercut stride. Despite the beginning of a sunset, it was still too oppressively hot even for the fireflies to begin their nightly hover.

When Dante detailed the circles of hell, he had left out Middle America in the summertime. Clearly, that was only because he had never visited Nowheresville, USA in July.

As she came to a stop, she could hear Bess's quiet sniveling echoing from the oven walls. Ignoring them, she looked down at the brittle, brown remnants of grass.

At least Napoleon's exile had been near the sea.

Horace, the family bloodhound, lay sprawled across the top step. She half suspected he might have keeled over and died of heat exhaustion, but a quick toe-tap inquiry relayed the slightest flick of an ear. Horace was Nowheresville's own Cerberus, bound eternally, it seemed, to the top porch step. Somewhere in the kitchen a glass shattered against the floor and Bess's sobs grew more audible from within.

Though staring out at the unpaved driveway, she somehow found herself in the middle of a train wreck. Turning on her heel, she made her way to the front screen door, wincing as she pulled the wretched thing open just enough to slip through. She hadn't escaped the creak, though, and Bess came bustling over, the extra material from her dated dress swooshing against her plump, stubby limbs.

“Would you mind giving me a hand?” Bess asked from beneath a bouffant of overteased hair.

“Sure.”

How had Napoleon escaped Elba Island, again?

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