Guest Post

HAVE A BOOK TO PROMOTE? Lyrical Pens welcomes guest posts. Answer a questionnaire or create your own post. FYI, up front: This site is a definite PG-13. For details, contact cj

Friday, October 18, 2013

D. W. Hartford Labor Day Post 2

Here is the second entry from D. W. Hartford about Labor Day. Congratulations on winning 40% off a class!
Labor Day:  Early or Not
D.W. Hartford

For some on the Gulf Coast, Labor Day will start as early as Sunday night. 
     Here, the circus began with tinkling chatter and a radio’s reedy trebles; then clanging voices and their stereo’s distant thumping.  Irregular counterpointing soon joined in:  defiant laughter, sing-songy jeers, phones ringing, alarmingly audible scrapes from yet more cars pulling up to, over, and back down the curbs; and more. 
     Now, an oddly distinct triplet of crumplings, whistles, and thwacks has forced its way to the edge of the cacophony. 
     That gets me out of my chair.
     After a deep breath, I open the door. 
     One cautious step then another lands me inside their multi-leveled carnival.  They’re grilling on the far side of the courtyard.  Cigarette smoke hovers about over here.  I nod to the nearest smoker.  (He pretends not to see.)  I flinch from a metallic crunch above me; next comes light whistling, and -- now I understand -- a spent beer-can arches missile-like through the yellow security lighting and settles upon the dirt of the lot across the narrow, car-laden drive. 
    The next one lands directly outside my window.
    Apparently, an earlier discard flew off-course:  it’s caught high up in the Live Oak leaning apartment-ward from the now aluminum-dotted lot.
    “I won’t be able to get to that one,” I muse against newly insistent thumpings from their stereo, “but as for the others….”
     Turning back towards the door, I picture the start to my Labor Day -- with a trash bag in hand. 
     “And maybe some of them will help out?”
      Opening the door, I smile at my positive thinking (it’s fitting for the holiday).
      Closing the door behind me, I frown (really believing it would be even more fitting).
      Double-locking the door now:  “Well, we’ll find out -- early or not.”

Be sure and let D. W. know what worked for you about this story. 

Be sure and send any prompt suggestions for November's contest. 


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

D. W. Hartford, MS Author

At the same time that I was posting that no one entered the September Stuff and Nonsense Contest, D. W. was emailing me his entries. Given that he sent two, and both make their points well, and given that he is the only one who submitted for the month of September, we are posting both of his pieces. Today is the first and on Friday, the second will be posted. Welcome to D. W. Hartford, our guest blogger for the day. Thank you for reminding me that a contest isn't over until the 12:00 a.m. on the last day.
D.W. lives and works in Biloxi, MS.  A lifelong educator with a variety of academic publications to his credit, he taught Philosophy to college students for nearly a decade; for the past five years he has served as Education Consultant to a number of not-for-profit educational organizations.  In the same time, he has directed most of his creative energies towards the writing of short stories, plays, and dialogues— most with an undeniable educational bent.  His latest project is a book-length account of his recent travels through the U.S.A. with the working title, In and Out of Distance:  An Educator’s 6-month Journey through the ‘Real World. 
Labor Day:  Too Much Work
D.W. Hartford
     On Labor Day morning, 10:30 a.m. to be precise, it seemed a good time to have “the talk,” maybe even a grown-up time.
    For the first hour, everything went, well, it was hardly like working. The sun beamed, blue skies smiled, white clouds winked, surf chortled, winds caressed. With the hatch on the Jeep raised, sitting closely, we began our relationship work in shade-covered steps.
    And then? 
    Earlier that morning, I’d envisioned success. The cooler full of food and drink, the Frisbee, the towels and beach chairs, her favorite shirt; all of this attested to success. Putting vodka in the clever disguise of my travel-mug did so too; surely just as much as my confidently scribbled notes laying out a reformed understanding of Saturday night’s fight, along with several clever steps towards reconciliation.  It does take work to be a grown-up, after all.
    And then?
    The next hour brought sharp winds, merciless heat, sullen skies. The surf mocked, as did she. Still sitting, I protested. Now standing, she glared as hot as the sun.
    And then?
    Still more boats pulled up then pulled away. The minutes labored over each second. That sun, oh, that horrid sun!  I wiped the sweat from my forehead. She didn’t move an inch.
    And then?
    I protested and I pleaded. “But I’ve been honest!”  “No, I do not need to be in control!”  “You haven’t even let me finish!”  “My feelings go beyond all that!”
    And then?
   Two empty Tupperware containers, a book of poems, three wrinkled sheets of paper (each bearing a story I’d shared), three dvd cases (my favorite comedies), and me. In the front seat of the car. 
   And then?
   I resolved that doing work on Labor Day is way too much work, indeed—especially when it’s grown-up work.

It would really be helpful if you would send D. W. your comments about the work. As writers, we all welcome critiques so we can learn and grow. Let him know if you understood the theme of the story and what worked especially well in it.

And if you have any prompt ideas for November, send them along too.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tracy Hurley Memorial Writing Contest

Mobile Writers Guild is once again honoring my good friend Tracy Hurley. Please spread the word and let's get as many kids as possible involved.

 The Third Annual Tracy Hurley Memorial Writing Contest


  • Short story contest open to all students grades 6-12th in Mobile and Baldwin counties.
  • Entries must be between 500-2500 words, and will be rated based on plot structure, grammar/spelling, and originality.
  • Include your name, grade, school, and story in the body of an e-mail to
  • Deadline is midnight, on Saturday, November 16, 2013.
  • Winners will be announced and awarded their prizes on Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 6pm in the meeting room of the West Regional Library.
  • Two categories for judging: Middle School and High School.
  • First, second, and third place winners in both categories.
  • Prizes include cash ($25 first place, $15 second place, and $10 third place) and on-line publication for winners in both categories.