The Leather Ledger

All of this blog’s content is also available in an audio podcast on iTunes and on Podbean under the podcast name “Another Notch”

Welcome to Another Notch, the podcast about writing prompts. I try to get thoughts on paper and stretch ideas until they become stories. If it inspires you, come back for more! If it sucks, let me know. The whole point of this is for me to improve my writing.

Here’s today’s writing from a random prompt I found on the internet. The prompt was to write about some unique item found in a thrift store. Challenge accepted! Just a quick note: I usually try to produce a rough draft to share but, sometimes, I end up making a quick outline instead. Today was one of those days! I won’t be reading this to you as if it were the actual story, just a quick synopsis. Here we go…

Jamal’s Cafe – coffee in the morning, the MC stops here on his way to work for coffee, sometimes breakfast to go, before heading to his regular job. He is also a budding photographer in his spare time.
Kepler Antiques – something in the window – Kepler’s Antiques is across the street from Jamal’s Cafe and he always sees something interesting in the window and promises himself he will come by some time when they are open and check it out.
MC is a struggling photographer
Finds half-filled old leather ledger in Kepler’s Antiques and purchases it as a prop for a photo shoot he is planning for an accountant who wants business prmotion photos.
He flips through some of the pages and reads the entries including the last entry, some time in 1800’s. The earlier entries are modest incomes and expenses, but they rapidly grow after a certain point in the ledger.
When he gets home later, he notices the ledger contains an entry for his purchase of the ledger. He assumes the cashier had done it while he left it at the counter and shopped around.
The next day, he gets home and finds entries for his breakfast purchase at Jamal’s Cafe and some other purchases.
Half jokingly, he writes in an antry for a cash deposit of $1000
The next day, he checks his account balance on his phone while at work and discovers he there has been a $1000 deposit made to his account.
MC begins creating entries for made up photo shoots and and begins spnning tales of how bsuiness has been picking up and word of his business is spreading.
A month later, he is purchasing new equipment with cash. A year later, he has a girlfriend and has moved into a nice house. He buys a Land Rover to haul his equipment around to photo shoots and personal photo projects like a book he is self publishing.
He is talented and he attributes his success to being able to have buy the best equipment, hire an assistant, pay for promotion and marketing, and most of that is attributable, at first, to the power of the ledger.
As the years go by, he relies on the power of the ledger less and less, aware that he has one less entry line each time he uses it and the ledger has less pages than it did when he found it.
MC grows older and, having made a good life for himself and his family, he makes several sizable contributions to beneficial organizations around the world.
MC eventually dies all of his personal belongings are willed to family or sold at public auction. The ledger ends up in an antique store.

So, what I did this time is a little different than what I have been doing, but I do occasionally get away with it because, well, I make the rules as I go.
I could spend more time elaborating on that synopsis and develop it into a rough draft as I usually have on the show, but I get the feeling it would have been longer than the four pages I came up with for the last show about the beachcombing couple. I may seriously have to consider making this a longer show. I don’t know. Would you listen to a longer show, or should I stick with what I’ve got?
Anyway, that’s today’s writing prompt. I’ll be back with more. Be sure to subscribe if you find this interesting. Thanks for listening and thanks for your feedback. This is Kurt Copeland. Keep the momentum and take your writing up Another Notch.

My First Blog Post

All of this blog’s content is also available in an audio podcast on iTunes and on Podbean under the podcast name “Another Notch”

Welcome to Another Notch, the podcast about writing prompts. I try to get thoughts on paper and stretch ideas until they become stories. If it inspires you, fantastic! If you have critical commentary, I’ll take that, too. The whole idea of this is to make me a better writer, and from where I am starting, the only place to go is up!

Here’s today’s writing from a random prompt I found in the internet. The prompt was to write about someone caught in the crossfire of rival street fighting. So, here goes…

Prologue
Allegiance. Respect. Territory. Control.
Some of the things properly motivated youth will die for.
If a lieutenant orders a hit on an enemy, they made it happen. It’s as simple as that. The bloodier, the better. It stood as a warning to others. There was no collateral damage. There were only things and people that got in the way of them doing their job. Such is the mindset of a gang member.
Kenneth wasn’t a gang member. He was the guy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He had just purchased some Excedrin and a Coke on his way to the train when his headache went from bad to irreparable. It couldn’t haver been a better shot if the thug had actually been aiming for him. Dental records could have identified him well enough but everything above that was pretty much gone.
Kenneth had no idea why he had died on his way to work. His mind had no time to react to the sound of the first two shots echoing down the sidewalk. He never heard the sound of the shot that took him out. The bullet arrived well before the bang. He collapsed with the forward momentum of his fast-paced stroll and was dead before he hit the ground.
The intended target was only wounded by one of the two earlier rounds. That guy was fortunate he had a trained bodyguard returned fire. By the time the thug had fired his three shots, the bodyguard had stepped in front of his boss, drawn his own weapon, and put five tight-grouped rounds, center of mass, into the thug.
The thug would also die from his wounds, but not for several minutes. After taking five rounds his torso, he eventually bled out. The bodyguard and his employer were gone; Their limo halfway across the city.
This is how 27-year-old bartender Kenneth Garner died on that cool afternoon. The Excedrin and Coke wouldn’t go to waste. It was retrieved later by a homeless guy from the nearby alley. Everything gets recycled. There is no waste. Everything serves a purpose, eventually.

Now, that was the first draft. All of these writings will be the result of shooting from the hip, so they’re not finished works. In retrospect, I find that I was trying to get down thoughts about scene and background and a little bit of character, and I have included no dialogue whatsoever. I admit, I generally tend to go back and add dialogue after getting a general setting and scene. Writing dialogue is a different mindset for me. Its like I have to get everything else started and then go back and get the character’s reactions to the story progression.
I have to work on that, among a great many other things.
Anyway, that’s today’s writing prompt. I’ll be back with more. Be sure to subscribe if you think it’s something that may interest you. Thanks for listening and for your feedback. This is Kurt Copeland. Keep the momentum and take your writing up Another Notch.

A Pirate Story…Almost

All of this blog’s content is also available in an audio podcast on iTunes and on Podbean under the podcast name “Another Notch”

Welcome to Another Notch, the podcast about writing prompts. I try to get thoughts on paper and stretch ideas until they become stories. If it inspires you, that’s awesome. If my writing can stand to be improved, and I know it can, then give me some constructive criticism! The whole idea is to make me a better writer, and I know I’ve got a lot of room to grow in this area.

Here’s today’s writing from a random prompt I found on the internet. The prompt was to write about a couple on the beach at night when a ghlostly pirate ship shows up to, according to local legend, claim their hidden, buried treasure.

Glen and Dana were in the middle of an amazing week at Dana’s uncle’s summer house out on the cape. Her Uncle Terrence had let Dana and her boyfriend use the house for a week on the beachfront property if they promised to clean it up a bit while they were there. They had a tiny little sandy cove, all their own, for the entire week of Spring Break.
As beachfront property goes, it was small, but amazingly secluded. It was off the beaten path and away from tourists and all the commercialism typically associated with it. If they didn’t feel like cooking, there was one little cafe within walking distance, open only for breakfast and lunch, but that was about it. They generally preferred staying in to cook their own meals which left them more time for the beach, reading, relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.
After the first couple days of sun-soaking, exploratory walks and moonlight swims, accentuated with wine from Uncle Terrance’s wine chiller in the horrid, bamboo-themed patio bar, they gave their own food preparation skills a rest and opted for breakfast at the cafe.

Fresh from the shower, they found clean clothes from their backpacks and searched for a few minutes until they found the key to the front door. It had been the first time in three days they had left the property through the front door. It almost felt a bit awkward, as if reality had seeped back into their brain when they locked the door. Three days left, they reminded themselves, and walked down the narrow, unlined street to the tiny cafe at the end of the block.
They had mostly been in their bathing suits, if that, for the past couple days.Now, Glen in his beach combers and printed t-shirt and Dana in her sweatpants and tanktop made them even more aware they were now out in public once more, even as secluded as it was, and they craved the beauty and privacy of the cove once more.
Breakfast arrived on quaint, colorful mis-matched plates, made by Quinn who owned the local pottery shack and art school in town. There were huge, fluffy omelettes and pieces of thick sizzling bacon, tiny glasses of orange juice and huge, steaming mugs of coffee. They devoured everything.
They chatted sleepily with the waitress as she came by to lay down the check.
“So, did you two happen to wander over here from town, just exploring?” said the waitress, smiling as picked up the last empty plate from the table.
“Actually,” said Dana, smiling back, “we’re just using my uncle’s place over at the cove for Spring Break. It’s been…so great.”
“That’s wonderful. I’m glad you’re enjoying it out here.” said the waitress. She hesitated a moment, as if she were going to say something else, and then gave a polite little nod with her smile and carried off the last of the dirty plates.
Glen placed anough cash on the table for breakfast and generous tip. They got up, stretched and yawned, shaking off their little food-induced mini coma, and Glen grabbed Dana’s hand and gave it a squeeze as they strolled to the door. The little bell chimed as they opened the door to leave and the waitress returned from the back to wish them well.
“Please do be careful out there in the cove at night.” she said. She now had more of a look of concern than friendliness. “Especially this weekend. I mean…”
“Now, Janie…that’s enough. Let those kids be. Let them enjoy their Spring break.” said a voice from the back of the cafe. A muscular man in khaki pants and a clean white buttoned shirt wearing an apron and one of those paper hats required in commercial kitchens stepped around the door jamb and waved to them with a smile.
Glen and Dana looked at each other for a moment with a wry smile and Dana said “Thank you! Everything was fabulous!” They walked out hand in hand and headed back to the house.
Jim, the man in the apron who had cooked them breakfast, leaned against the door jamb with his arms crossed and gazed at the front door of the cafe. Janie sat at one of the wicker chairs at the table next to him. Elbow on table, chin in hand, she heaved the most exasperated sigh there ever was.
“What was she saying about after dark?” Glen asked. They were about half way down the street and the house was looming, welcoming and comfortable in front of them.
“I have no idea. She probably just doesn’t want us to go out swimming in the middle of the night and drown. Who knows? She’s just the friendly, small town, caring type.” Dana said with a grin.
She reached into her pocket and fished out the house key on it’s trendy bottle opener promotional keychain from the local sports bar back in town. As she fit the key into the lock, Glen wrapped his arms around her waist and placed a gentle kiss on her neck. She carressed his arm as she gently unwrapped his embrace and said “Calm down, my little beach bum. I’m still too full to deal with whatever you’re thinking about right now. Let’s just relax for a while.”
She was slowly backing into the house, facing Glen and caught in the lightest of embraces with momentary kisses across her face when a slow creaking sound rolled across the ceiling. Something was moving around upstairs. Something…larger than a cat.
The cat, they now noticed, was sitting on the top of the couch. All three of them now stood silent, staring at the ceiling.
“That has to be this old place settling. I mean, the house is built on a beach, right? It has to shift around a lot.” said Glen.
“The house has a stone foundation and it’s been around in the family for a couple generations now, sweetie. That’s got to be something living in the attic.” said Dana. She gave him a kiss on the lips and a quick shove backwards which caught him off guard. Glen stood back, smiling, eyes wide and arms held open in mock surprise.
“I’m not going to sleep in this house until you go upstairs and check it out. Bring the baseball bat from the hall closet if you want.” she said as she stared at Glen, looking adorable but adament.
Glen grinned and, with renewed energy, jogged up the stairs two steps at a time. He neglected to grab the bat on his way up but found a cane in an umbrella stand on a landing halfway up the stairwell. He pulled it out and, in a dramatic gesture, held it in front of him like a swashbuckler lofting a sword.
“En garde!” he yelled and finished leaping up the stairs, two steps at a time. He disappeared down the upstairs hallway.
Dana shook her head and rested her arm on the banister at the bottom of the stairs, watching in the direction Glen had wandered. She could hear him walking around intermittently for a minute or two, and then it was quiet again.
“What do you think he’s up to now?” Dana said, looking at the cat. The cat blinked and, apparently no longer interested, started washing his face with his paw.
Then, Dana and the cat froze. They both heard the long, creaking sound again. This time, it was louder…and then there was a loud thud.
Dana’s could feel the blood drain from her face as she looked back to where the cat once stood. She glance at him just in time to see his tail disappear through the cat door leading from the kitchen to the back patio.

Dana suddenly felt very alone.

Glen had planned on using the cane to poke at whatever he found upstairs and drive it out of a window or whatever hole it may have climbed through to get into the house. He figured it had to have been some kind of stray animal that squeezed through the cat door late at night. ‘Probably a possum.
He know possums were obstinate and he wasn’t going to fight one with a cane but he had to at least try to corner it in a room, if he couldn’t chase it out, and then they could call animal control.
He thought he knew where the sound had originated and he headed to the second of the two second floor bedrooms on the back side of the house. The door was barely touching the door jamb so he pushed it open with the cane. The door creaked open with the same familar sound they had heard when they entered the house.
Glen gripped the old wooden can in both hands, the brass T-gripped handle in his right hand, the wood shaft in his left. As he held it, the cane suddenly came apart. His left hand still held a hollow, wood shaft and, in his left hand, a long, gleaming stilleto knife reflected the moonlight from the window. While momentarily surprised at this sudden conversion, Glen was fortified with a new bit of bravery due to the discovery.

He saw something move out of the corner of his eye and, turning to see what was behind the bedroom door, he struggled to back away. Glen tripped over an empty wine bottle laying near the foot of the bed and landed face up, with a loud thud, in the center of the room.

Now, as you heard, I didn’t strictly adhere to the restrictions of the original writing prompt. But that’s one of the great things about writing prompts. Unless you have a contract to ghost write a story with specific plot guidelines, you can switch it up and pretty much write about whatever you want, as long as you’re inspired. In all honesty, I was still heading towards the original intent of the writing prompt but, after writing almost four pages and not quite yet getting to the goal, I decided to go ahead and share what I had.
I may have to come back to this one some day and have an episode where I have Glen and Dana actually experience the ghost ship showing up on the beach. But that’s for another day.
Well, that’s today’s writing prompt. I’ll be back with more. Be sure to subscrobe if you find this interesting. Thanks for listening and thanks for your feedback. This is Kurt Copeland. Keep the momentum and take your writing up Another Notch.

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