Changing Direction: Story Cubes Challenge Week 1 response

Prompts: Lightbulb, Halloween/ghosts/ghoulies, skyscraper/office building, sleeping/alarm clock ringing, turning, rocket crashing in space, sunrise/sunset, sheriff’s badge/star, bowl of steaming something

Changing Direction

May 2008

Ellie stood at the entrance to the site and looked up at the girders rising high above the ground, the sunrise painting the steel in pinks and purples. Except the places where red and black spray paint marred the office building’s skeleton. She turned to look at the Fairfax County sheriff’s deputy.

“It looks like a Halloween prank a few days early,” she said, stuffing her hands in the pockets of her lightweight jacket. “You’re sure it’s gang-related?” She tried to remember the deputy’s name. Bettencourt, she thought. “Sgt. Bettencourt, isn’t this a little far out in the county for gangs?”

Bettencourt shrugged. “We’ve been seeing it more and more on the eastern side of the county, spilling over from DC.” He paused as the radio on his shoulder crackled. “They’ve even had a rise in gang activity in the Shenandoah Valley the past few years,” he added. “It’s not just the cities any more.”

“Why here, though?” Ellie scanned the development, sandwiched between two townhouse complexes, located off a main road in the fast-growing county. “I expect irate neighbors, not gangs.”

“If Fairfax County was a city, it would be one of the 25 largest in the country,” Bettencourt said. “All sorts of outsiders coming in these days.” His sneer made Ellie conscious of her own accent, the Boston flavor a far cry from the softer syllables commonly heard among native Virginians.

“Can the crews clean up the damage?” She looked over at Bettencourt, who had a good five inches on her, despite the modest heels that took her within an inch of six feet.

He nodded. “We took some photos after we got out here, got a few more from the neighbors who called it in.” The sergeant tipped his head to the southwest. “They have a strong Neighborhood Watch program over there. You might just have been a handy, unguarded target.”

Ellie stepped back so she wasn’t so conscious of looking up at the man. “But you don’t think so.” Continue reading

New home for Welcome to Exeter…

Whoa! That’s not the site that was here yesterday.

Nope. I finally switched over to so I could put the site on my domain, which has been sitting vacant for a while. So if you have this page bookmarked, go ahead and update the link to If you run into a broken link, please let me know. It looks like tags got lost along the way, so some of the navigation links I imported point back to the old site. I tried to catch them all, but I’m sure I missed a couple.

Hope you enjoy poking around the site. One of the big changes I made was (finally) updating the reviews and interviews page to include the ones for All That Is Necessary, including the newest review, which came out Thursday.

Rory’s Story Cubes Challenge IV: Week 1

Last week I was making the rounds wearing my Author Jennie hat in both Massachusetts and Virginia, and I spoke to a lot of people about Rory’s Story Cubes and the Story Cubes Challenge. So now it’s time for Round 4 of the challenge. Like Round 3, this one involves three cubes each from the original set, Actions and Voyages.

If you’re new to the challenge, here’s the scoop: I post a photo of nine Story Cubes on Wednesday morning. You write a story using all nine cubes. If you want to post a link (or the story itself) in comments, go for it! If you’d rather keep it to yourself, that’s fine, too. Teachers and librarians, I’ve done some workshops recently on writing using the cubes, and if you’re close enough for me to get to, I’m happy to do something for your facility. Just email me and we can talk details.

And now, on to the prompt: