Writing Prompt: “When He Came Back”

From Writing Forward: Start the first line of your story with: “My husband disappeared on August 28, 1998.”

“When He Came Back”

My husband disappeared on August 28, 1998. He returned August 28, 2014.

I was making pancakes for my new husband Julian when my old husband Glen came into the kitchen. He was yawning and dressed in the same pair of pajamas that he had worn to bed sixteen years ago. I stared at him with pancake batter splattering from my spoon to the floor as he rummaged through the cabinet for a mug.

“Want some coffee?” he asked.

I made some sort of strangled noise, but Glen didn’t seem to notice.

“Ah well, more for me,” he said. He poured himself some coffee from a brand new coffeemaker that I had gotten Julian for his birthday a week ago. Then, he went over to inspect my cooking. “Looks good,” he said with a grin and kissed me on the cheek.

My cheek still remembered the once-daily touch of his lips, and it was this act of familiarity that jolted me from my numbed silence.

“Glen!” I exclaimed. “What the hell?”

Continue reading

Choosing to be TV Free!

I love TV! I feel like writers and avid book readers are always down on TV, but personally, I think TV is great! When I want to unwind after a long day at work, sometimes a good book requires too much thinking. I need something mindless and entertaining, and that isn’t an insult to television at all!

That being said, Netflix (the crack of the entertainment world) offers the option to binge watch hundreds of shows, and before I know it, I’ve spent several hours of my day staring at a TV screen. That’s fine on some days, but when it starts to interfere with reading and writing time, it’s a problem.

So I have instituted “TV-Free days.” Right now, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are the days where I am not allowed to watch any TV. It’s the thought behind the rule that counts more than the rule itself. I need to set aside time to read and write if I’m ever going to be a successful writer. I have stories to write, new books to read, chapters to revise, and posts to blog, and I simply won’t do any of that if I’m lying around watching TV all day.

I started this week, and I was so productive Monday! And frankly, I’ve missed spending hours reading and writing (Over the summer, I went a little Netflix crazy!). I’m hoping to eventually add Sunday, but I’ll have to see how this goes. You have to make time for the things you care about, and I care about reading and writing!

Calling All Agents!

As I mentioned in my first post, I recently wrote a fantasy novel. I’ve let my sister, mom, aunt, and cousin read it, and they’ve all said it’s pretty good. But of course family has the tendency to sugarcoat things. I needed someone who could be brutally honest. (I’m still looking actually, so if anyone wants to sample a few chapters, let me know!) Anyway, I got in touch with my former creative writing professor, and she recommended that I start looking for agents. That’s my next task in the quest to get published.

My professor recommended that I look at Poets & Writers, a website with resources for (wait for it…) poets and writers. I went to their literary agent database and started hunting. One issue I ran into was that a lot of agents say they are interested in commercial fiction, and when you go to their website, they actually are more interested in literary fiction (There’s a big difference!). I found that, oddly enough, searching for agents who published graphic and illustrated works helped me find the agents who were really serious about fantasy.

After that, I went to Writer’s Digest. This website is great because they have a spotlight for new literary agents. They have this note on that section of the site: “New literary agents are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list.” Perfect!

After going to those websites, I picked about seven agents who I thought might be interested in my book. I figured I wouldn’t overwhelm myself with too many agents at this point. I’m just testing the waters, and hoping for some good feedback or even some interest in the complete manuscript. I made sure to do some research about the agencies the agents worked for, and I was sure to copy and paste all submission guidelines into my list. I didn’t want my book to get thrown out because of a submission mistake.

The next step is writing the dreaded query letter (a post about that is coming soon!). I’ve only written query letters for journalism pieces that I didn’t really care about, so this is going to be a brand new experience for me.

My method for finding agents wasn’t all that structured. I’m sure there’s a better way to handle it. Any recommendations?

Short Story: “Roscoe’s Stories”

For my first short story, I thought I would post a nonfiction piece I wrote in college. It’s about my grandfather, Roscoe Braxton, who died recently. I’m a little ashamed to post this story. The majority of it is about how I took him for granted, but I tried to be honest. I think it reflects how many grandchildren feel about their grandparents, and I hope by the end, it shows just how special he is to me.

Feedback (good or bad) would be great! I don’t think I’ll ever publish this one, but it’s nice to get critiques anyway.

“Roscoe’s Stories”

It was Homecoming Weekend during my sophomore year of college at the University of Missouri (“Mizzou” to its fans). Because ESPN College Gameday had come to campus, I had stayed up all night to try to get a spot near the front where I could be on TV. I was unsuccessful and trudged home after standing for three hours in a torrential downpour. I changed out of my wet clothes and climbed into bed, hoping to catch a few hours of sleep before the football game.

I was just drifting off when the my phone vibrated and jolted me awake. I cursed myself for being a light sleeper and rolled over to see the words “Granddaddy Roscoe” on my screen.

“Not now,” I groaned.

I thought about letting the call go to voicemail, but my dad had given me a lot of crap for not returning my granddad’s calls. I inhaled deeply, mustering up the dwindling reserves of my patience and answered the phone.

“Hi, Granddaddy,” I said, with cheer that I didn’t have.

“Hey, how ya doin?” My granddad’s rough, gravelly voice was even more abrasive than usual. Plus, he used the same greeting every time he called.

I imagined him sitting in his apartment, his once tall frame stooped with age. He was probably wearing his familiar flat cap hat and his khaki jacket that he wore rain or shine. I could picture the wide glasses he wore to assist his eyes that were slowly getting paler because of glaucoma. With these images floating around in my head, I felt guilty for not wanting to talk to him. My granddad was old, and I didn’t have that many grandparents left.

“I’m good,” I replied, as always.

“Y’all are playin’ a big game tonight, eh?” he asked.

By “y’all,” he meant Mizzou. It was a big game, I supposed. Mizzou hadn’t beaten Oklahoma in years, but we sure as heck weren’t going to win tonight. Oklahoma was ranked number 1 in the nation, and I couldn’t remember what Mizzou’s ranking was.

“Yeah,” I said. “We’re playing Oklahoma.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” he said, chewing on his next thought like a cow chews cud. “They’re a pretty decent team, aren’t they?”

“They’re number 1 in nation,” I said. I grimaced as I thought back to last year’s Homecoming game, where Texas scored more than 70 points on us. “We’re heading for a slaughter.”

“Well…” He took a long pause, a torturously long pause.

I ground my teeth and watched the clock in my room. I knew that every minute I talked to him was a wasted minute of sleep.

He finally spoke. “I don’t know, Andrea. Mizzou’s a pretty good team. I think you can pull out a win.”

I rolled my eyes. My granddad didn’t know a thing about Mizzou. That was my school. He was a University of Tennessee fan. What did he know about Midwestern sports?

“I hope so,” I said.

“You know, back in 1961–“

Oh no, I thought. Here it comes. The story about how my granddad had taken one class at Mizzou during the summer and considered himself an alumnus. The cycle of stories was about to begin. Continue reading


menycMy name is Andrea Braxton, and I am a writer.

This sounds like the beginning of an AA meeting, I know, but it’s basically the theme for this blog. I have tried several blogs in the past, but none of them had a clear enough focus. I tried blogging about TV, movies, books, and I even had one of those blogs that was just about my life (ugh). 

This blog, however, has ONE focus: writing. I have been coming up with stories ever since I can remember, and I believe (sincerely hope) that they are good enough to eventually be published. I have written tons of short stories from creative writing classes in college, and I’ve even written a novel. It’s a fantasy novel about dragons (nerd alert!), and I’m pretty proud of it. At the moment, I’m looking to get it published, but I also want to start putting my shorter works out there.

It’s weird being on the other side of the publishing business as well. I work as an editorial assistant for an educational publishing company in Baltimore, so I’m in the strange position of editing writers’ work as I try to get my own work out there.

I am an extreme novice at the publishing game, so if you came to this blog for advice on getting your own work out there, you’ve come to the wrong place. Maybe check back here in a couple of years :). But if you want to sample my writing, read about my own publishing journey, and get a glimpse into the randomness that is my writer’s brain, welcome!