Commentary #111: “50 Best Films About Writers, Ranked”

Image Credit: Medium

I stumbled upon this article when I was researching a daily film challenge post for Facebook. The question that day was: “A film where a character has a job you want.”

My answer: Finding Forrester (2000)


Here’s the link to the article about the 50 best films:

50 Best Films About Writers, Ranked |Flavorwire

Now, granted, this particular article was published in 2014. But, I wanted to take a closer look at these movies and offer my thoughts.

50. Sylvia (2003) — I have not seen this.

49. Finding Forrester (2000) — I have seen this movie, and I like it. I want to watch it again.

48. Total Eclipse (1995) — I have not seen this.

47. Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle (1994) — I have not seen this.

46. Deathtrap (1982) — I have not seen this.

45. Henry Fool (1997) — I have not seen this.

44. Manhattan (1979) — I have not seen this.

43. Barfly (1987) — I have seen pieces of this movie.

42. The Pillow Book (1996) — I have not seen this.

41. My Left Foot (1989) — I have seen this movie, and I like it.

40. American Splendor (2003) — I have seen pieces of this movie.

39. Swimming Pool (2003) — I have not seen this.

38. The Front (1976) — I have not seen this.

37. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) — I have seen this movie, and I like it. I want to watch it again.

36. Ruby Sparks (2012) — I have seen this, and it’s a good movie!

35. Impromtu (1991) — I have not seen this.

34. Kill Your Darlings (2013) — I have not seen this, but I want to.

33. Contempt (1963) — I have not seen this.

32. Prick Up Your Ears (1987) — I have not seen this.

31. Adult World (2013) — I have not seen this.

30. Julia (1977) — I have not seen this.

29. Poetic Justice (1993) — I have seen pieces of this movie.

28. Fellini’s Casanova (1976) — I have not seen this.

27. Shakespeare in Love (1998) — I have seen this, but it’s not my favorite.

26. The Motorcycle Diaries (2004) — I have seen this, and it’s an excellent movie.

25. Midnight in Paris (2011) — I have not seen this.

24. Iris (2001) — I have not seen this.

23. Before Sunset (2004) — I have seen pieces of this movie.

22. The Door in the Floor (2004) — I have not seen this.

21. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) — I have seen pieces of this, and I want to watch it in full.

20. Misery (1990) — I have seen this, and I want to watch it again.

19. Before Night Falls (2000) — I have not seen this.

18. Deconstructing Harry (1997) — I have not seen this.

17. The World According to Garp (1982) — I have seen pieces of this movie, and I want to watch it in full.

16. The Hours (2002) — I have seen this movie, and it’s good.

15. Naked Lunch (1991) — I have not seen this.

14. Starting Out in the Evening (2007) — I have not seen this.

13. Bright Star (2009) — I have not seen this.

12. Young Adult (2011) — I have seen pieces of this movie, and I want to watch it in full.

11. Certified Copy (2010) — I have not seen this movie, but I want to.

10. A Man For All Seasons (1966) — I have not seen this.

9. The Shining (1980) — I have seen this movie, and it’s good.

8. Providence (1977) — I have seen pieces of this movie, and I want to watch it in full.

7. Sunset Boulevard (1950) — I have seen this movie, and it’s good.

6. My Brilliant Career (1979) — I have not seen this movie, but I want to.

5. Adaptation (2002) — I have seen this movie, and it’s excellent. I want to watch it again.

4. An Angel at My Table (1990) — I have not seen this.

3. Wonder Boys (2000) — I have seen this movie, and it’s excellent. I want to watch it again.

2. Barton Fink (1991) — I have seen pieces of this movie, and I want to watch it in full.

(1) Reprise (2006) — I have not seen this movie, but I want to.


What do you think about these 50 movies? Let me know!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #108: Thoughts on “The Baby-Sitters Club” (Netflix)

Image Credit: The Today Show

The minute I saw the trailer for the Netflix take / re-boot of The Baby-Sitters Club, I knew I wanted to watch it!

I ended up watching all 10 episodes over the course of one day – Last Saturday. I was so easily sucked in!


As someone who devoured the books as a kid, I was a little nervous, as the Netflix series appeared to have been updated for modern times. But, it worked out really nicely. I want to re-read all the books now.

The girls playing the club members were cast so well. I was so gleeful when I realized, at the beginning of episode two, that the creators and producers had used the handwriting of each girl. I remember that from the books, and the CD-ROM game! I think I had the Clubhouse Activity Center.


If you’re looking for a lot of nostalgia that’s updated for today’s girls, tweens, teens, and moms (Dads, too!), this is a great series. It’s fun, easy to watch, and engaging. It also covers a lot of real-life experiences, particularly friendship, parents, divorce, boys, periods, and bullying, among other things.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #248: “April AND May WIP Writing Prompt Challenge (extended): The Temporary Insanity of Our Empty Streets … CONTINUED”

Image Credit: The New York Times

Here’s the link to Didi’s challenge:

April and May WIP Writing Prompt Challenge (extended): The Temporary Insanity of Our Empty Streets … CONTINUED

As an Author/challenge joiner: All you need to do is use the characters from your WIP (work in progress), or even a published works, and plug them into the given scene for a short story style post. It can be funny, serious, deadly, really just whatever you want as long as it’s true to your characters (as in, what they would actually do in this situation)!! It’s a fun way to be creative with those personalities that you as their creator love so much. It’s also a fun way to introduce them to the world and your blogs, without giving away your plots and twists… Just pure ‘meet my characters, and get to know their personalities’ separate from their book.


Donning their cloth masks, Brennan and Kristin both sighed. A simple trip to the grocery store wasn’t simple anymore. It hadn’t been for weeks.

“Okay, B., let’s get in and get out. This is so stressful.”

Brennan reached over the center console and squeezed Kristin’s hand. He wanted to kiss her so badly. Usually, kissing started melting the stress away.

“I know, K. But, we’re here, together. We’re being safe. Right?”

Kristin winced. Everything had gotten harder. She was under the same roof as Brennan, in his own apartment, for the foreseeable future. She should be thrilled! But, then, the lockdown started. And it was driving both of them crazy.

Sure, they’d had a lot of sex, and were generally enjoying spending more time together. But, the simplest things were now so difficult. Brennan had been furloughed. He picked up two different virtual assistant jobs to make up for his one day job. Sitting behind a computer all day was draining. And Kristin, wanting to help keep the lights on and contribute, was able to score a temp job. But it was all online, too.

The apartment was big enough where they could separate for their jobs when they needed to. But, being stuck in a 750-square-foot apartment for days, weeks, and now months, was increasingly challenging.

“Let’s go over the list one more time, and then let’s get this over with.”

Brennan sighed. He loved Kristin, that part was obvious. But, this lockdown was not going the way he’d hoped. His emotions were all over the place. And he felt obligated to help keep Kristin from experiencing a full breakdown. He could see it coming – She was teetering on the edge.

“Okay, milk, eggs, bread, paper towels, bathroom cleaner, toilet paper, if we can find any …”

Kristin sat back in the passenger seat. Brennan saw the tears.

“K., look at me.”

She turned. Two tears spilled out, soaking into the blue floral fabric.

“I love you. I say that to you so much because that’s one thing that won’t be changing. Okay? We can do this. We’re together.”

Kristin sighed. “I love you, too, Brennan. I’m sorry. I feel like all I’m doing is apologizing.”

Brennan stroked her hand, remembering that he needed to use hand sanitizer again before they got out of the car.

“I know you’re sorry. I’m sorry, too. I feel like I haven’t been apologizing enough, you know?”

Kristin leaned over and brushed her lips to his forehead. “What do you feel you’re sorry for?”

Brennan’s eyes turned serious. “I feel bad for inviting you down here, with our colleges closed and shuttered, and then the full lockdown hit. I feel guilty. Maybe selfish, too.”

Kristin laughed slightly. “As frustrating as this lockdown has been, I can’t imagine being alone, living alone, right now. We’re together. We’re healthy. And we’re doing a lot of different things. Your apartment hasn’t been this clean, like, ever. We’re both working. There’s really nothing to feel guilty or selfish about.”

She paused. “Now, let’s get this trip over with. I want to get home, wipe everything down, and then get busy. You know, that busy. That’s the only selfish thing I want.”

Brennan smiled, squeezed her hand, and turned the car off.

“I’m feeling selfish like that, too. Lead the way, darling.”


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Hot Topic #29: Banned & Controversial Books

Found on CNN

This is a topic that comes up every single year!

The idea for this post came from a recent article on CNN: These books are gaining ground in an Alaska town after a school board voted to remove them from class.


The books that are under fire in the town of Palmer are F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby; Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man; Joseph Heller’s Catch-22; Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried; and Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.

Members of the Matanuska-Susitna (Mat-Su) Borough School Board met in mid-April to “approve the district’s High School English Elective Curriculum and reading list.” After lengthy discussions, “an amendment was introduced during the meeting to scratch the five books off the curriculum. Five members voted in favor of the removal, two voted against. The vote has no impact on the books’ placement in school libraries. In the same vote, the board also removed ‘The Learning Network,’ a resource for educators from The New York Times Company as a mentor text for district teachers.”

Palmer is about 40 miles from Anchorage in the southern part of the state. It serves 46 schools and more than 19,000 students.

Board members received a one-page flier from the district’s Office of Instruction regarding the potential controversies. “Concerns about the pieces of literature, according to the flier, included sexual references, rape, racial slurs, scenes of violence and profanity.”

All this to say that the books have not been banned from the district. The article was written to make the point that the school board voted in favor of removal.


What about community members?

According to the article, “No community members had signed up to comment prior to the meeting.” And, “since the decision was made as an amendment, community members didn’t have a chance to give their input.”

“The material for the English elective class were reviewed through a stakeholder survey, a community survey and a council of educators — including teachers, librarians and administrators — among other reviewers in the 2019-2020 year, the school district said.” The recommendations were then brought to the school board.


Positive spin on the situation

There is some good news. A Facebook page was created after the meeting, advertising “The Mat-Su Valley Banned Book Challenge.” Any student that read all the works can enter for a change to win $100. However, the administrators of the page have considered upping the monetary prize because of the interest in the challenge. At the time the article was published, over 200 students had joined the page.


Protecting students?

There were several quotes in the article regarding the students, and the school board’s intent to protect them from the content of these books. Many of them depict abuse and violence.

“To think that by not reading ‘Why the Caged Bird Sings’ means therefore children will not be exposed to sexual abuse is … closed-minded and ignorant.”

“‘There are many, many students in our district who don’t know that the trauma maybe they’ve experienced is trauma that somebody else has written about and yes, they can go and talk to somebody then,’ Welton said in the meeting.”

‘”I think you’re putting your head in the sand,’ she said. ‘If you really, truly believe that you are protecting your children, you can protect them by just saying, ‘Don’t take that class.'”


The main takeaway for me is that these books are for an English elective class. To me, however, I think these quotes hit the nail on the head. If these students aren’t supposed to or allowed to read these books in school, what other opportunity would they have to read them? Would these students take them out of the library themselves? Apparently, the chance to win money is plenty inspiring.


If you’re interested, check out the links regarding banned and challenged books below.


For me, I’ve read The Great Gatsby and The Things They Carried. I read Invisible Man and Catch-22 so long ago! I’ve read parts of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. I think I’ll add the last three to a future TBR. I re-read The Great Gatsby every year. And I think I should re-read The Things They Carried at some point.

Have you read any of these five books?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #103: “The Elegance of Kindness”

Image Credit: Found on Gratitude and Trust

This post started with an email and a YouTube link. Thanks, Momma V.!

Al’s mom sent this link to me, asking if I’d seen it: Story Behind the Song: The Rainbow Connection


I hadn’t, so I clicked on it. It’s a bit dated now – It was posted in October 2016. However, what I clicked on and witnessed was nearly 12 minutes of magic and appreciation. It was an interview where Paul Williams discusses how “The Rainbow Connection” came to be. In the middle, Williams mentioned his website, Gratitude and Trust, along a post he wrote called “The Elegance of Kindness” about Jim Henson. I paused the video, grabbed a Post-It note, scribbled that down, and continued the video.

Visiting the website a little while later, I noticed that Paul posted it in September 2013. But, dates don’t matter.


As I started reading, all I felt was warmth when I digested Paul’s words. What an amazing life he’s had as a songwriter. He’s also a recovering alcoholic, a major feat by itself. And, to meet AND work with Jim Henson! Wow.

He told the same story in the video as he did in his blog post, about not wanting to throw any surprises at Jim when he and Kenny Ascher were beginning to produce the music for The Muppet Movie (1979).

Jim smiled, and reassured Paul with these words, “Oh, that’s all right Paul. I’m sure they’ll be wonderful. I’ll hear them in the studio when we record them.”

Hearing Jim say that immediately allayed Paul’s fears and worries. He also told this story in the liner notes when the soundtrack was re-released for the nearly 35th anniversary of the movie. And, in a way, this meeting paved the way for one of the most memorable and warm songs that has ever been created.


But the point here is “the elegance of kindness.” As I was telling Al about the video and the blog post, he immediately nodded and said, “Yes, exactly. That’s how many people have described Jim Henson. How kind he was.”

Jim Henson died in 1990. I wasn’t quite two years old when he left the world. But, I’ve learned who he was. And what an impact he has made! In his short 53 years, he became a legend. He created the Muppets, helped develop characters for Sesame Street, produced The Muppet Show, started the Jim Henson Foundation, and founded Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.


I made the same connection that Paul did about Jim. With kindness comes trust. With kindness and trust, magical things can bloom and grow. I don’t think “Rainbow Connection” would have been written if Jim Henson didn’t trust Williams and Ascher. There have been so many issues with trust, time and time again, with the world of entertainment. And it’s not limited to entertainment, either.

I write this post as the pandemic continues. I’m frustrated and appalled at the President of the United States and other leaders who have spouted clear lies, and they have incited great fear among millions of people. Millions of people who have gotten so many mixed messages at the worst possible time. No wonder I have trust issues! And there’s not a shred of kindness from the top. Sadly.


However, my spirit has been renewed. There is kindness, still.

Some Good News with John Krasinski is AWESOME!

I’ve loved Steve Hartman since he started reporting with CBS News in the 1990s (Remember Assignment America? And throwing a dart at a map of the U.S.?). A while ago, he did a four-part series called Kindness 101. Not only are his kids adorable, but he’s sharing many of his stories, old and new, and reminding everyone who’s watching what the important things are in life. Character. Gratitude. Empathy. Optimism. Purpose. I’ve watched all of them, and I’m excited the series is continuing.

Just today, I read a father’s account of his daughter, Emerson, and her letters. Her handwritten letters and decorated envelopes. She wrote a letter to her mailman, Doug, expressing her appreciation for him to help her mail her letters. Now, it’s gone all over the country, through thousands of people and postal workers. I’m inspired to be a pen pal again.

And, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Sesame Street’s theme is now “Smarter, Stronger, Kinder.” The elegance of kindness can, and should, be embraced as young as possible. But, you’re not too old to start. You’re never too old to embrace something like kindness.

Enjoy a special performance of “Rainbow Connection” from Kermit that posted to YouTube last week.

Stay safe, stay well, friends.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #101: Sesame Street 50th Anniversary Special

The minute the 50th Anniversary Special was announced, I marked my calendar for November.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the full special posted on the PBS website for a whole week, from November 17th through the 24th. I watched it twice! And I experienced so many emotions!

I really enjoyed the story. Joseph Gordon-Levitt was a great host! And so many former cast members were a part of it. The songs were my favorite part, especially the performance of “Sing” at the end.

I’m planning to get it on DVD when it is released.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #247: October WIP Challenge Prompt: Bewitched!!

Found on Didi Oviatt

I love Didi’s monthly writing challenges!

Here’s the link to Didi’s challenge post: October WIP Challenge Prompt: Bewitched!!

Lizzy adored Halloween. When she and Hunter met, they had bonded over one movie in particular: The Nightmare Before Christmas. Multiple times since then, they’d dressed up as Jack and Sally. Everyone thought they were adorable together.

But Lizzy also enjoyed another Halloween tradition – Becoming a witch. It was a secret from many of her friends at the Lancer Institute, or LT for short. But, the minute the air turned crisp and cool, her witch’s hat, black robes, and potions came out of the closet.

She and two of her closest friends, Brittany and Ashley, gathered in the woods, about two miles from LT’s campus. It was becoming a nightly tradition since that wild October night three years prior.

Brittany was in charge of the massive black cauldron. Earlier this October, they’d constructed a makeshift storage area in their favorite clearing. It wasn’t immediately visible to the average passerby, so the three ladies were pretty proud of themselves. It was a welcome change to Brittany – Lugging that massive cauldron was getting old. Her arms were pretty buff, though.

“It’s almost nightfall, my pretties. What spell should we conjure tonight?” Ashley cackled slightly.

Lizzy looked up at the crimson sky, contemplating. Emotionally, she was sad. Hunter, having to work, wasn’t able to come to the annual LT Halloween celebration. They would still dress up as Jack and Sally, per their tradition, but she was still sad he wouldn’t be at LT to celebrate like he had for the previous two years. She wished he was still a student with her.

“Lizzy? Darling, are you okay?”

Tears in her eyes, she turned to Brittany and Ashley. This felt like a true sisterhood. All of them, at some point, had been rejected by several of the eight sororities at LT. Who needed sororities when the three of them could gather in the woods at any time of night?

Lizzy swallowed. “I want to conjure a happiness spell.”

Ashley and Brittany looked confused. “A happiness spell?”

Lizzy nodded, jutting out her chin. “I’ve been so sad recently. Being here with both of you makes me happy, but I want to be happier.”

Ashley chortled slightly. “Is this because you miss Hunter?”

Lizzy stuck her tongue out. “Maybe.”

The three got to work.

“Double, double, toil and trouble …”

POOF!

As the cloud of hazy purple smoke started to clear, Lizzy felt a bit dizzy. She hadn’t had anything to drink, but she felt drunk. She stumbled a bit, but Brittany caught her.

“Lizzy?”

“I feel great! Oh, wow …”

Her world went sideways.

Lizzy woke up, puzzled as to why she felt the cold, damp leaves on her face. She was on the ground. Alone.

“Brittany? Ashley!”

Lizzy thought she’d heard faint giggling.

“Ashley! Brittany! This isn’t funny!”

Lizzy grabbed her hat, and stumbled to her feet.

“Where are you?”

Lizzy turned in circles, feeling increasingly confused. She certainly wasn’t happy. She was scared.

The spell had backfired. And Lizzy was all alone.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #246: Fall Fridays, Number 7

Image Credit: Unsplash

This is the final installment of Fall Fridays!

I think I’m going to do this every fall. I’ve really enjoyed it!

As the wonderful season of autumn / fall has started, I wanted to create an original writing prompt series to celebrate!

I invite everyone who sees this to participate, if you choose.

The idea is to look at the prompt, take at least five minutes on the Fridays during October 2019, and come up with a story/poem/scene, or whatever strikes your fancy with those words.

This has been extended from September! You can use the image at the top of this post – Just please make sure to credit it.

Ready?

Here we go!

  • October 4th: Corn Maze
  • October 11th: Hay Ride
  • October 18th: Football
  • October 25th: Halloween

The bonfire made shadows across everyone’s faces. Allison shivered. Then, David stretched, and put his arm around her. She felt warmer.

They couldn’t remember whose idea it had been, but having a bonfire on Halloween was becoming a tradition. Everyone had outgrown trick-or-treating age-wise. Lucy was the only one, for now, stuck taking her younger siblings around the neighborhood. She’d promised Allison a text once her sisters and brother were back home, inevitably fighting over the candy.

Allison sighed as she felt David’s lips graze her forehead. She jumped slightly when she heard the neighborhood owl hoot into the night. Past Halloween nights varied in temperature, but this year, it was crisp, cold, and a bit spooky.

Allison jumped again when her phone buzzed.

Hey, Ally, I’m running late. My sister tore her princess dress and had the meltdown of meltdowns. Who else is there?

Allison smiled. David shifted slightly to let her text back.

No worries here. It’s just David and me so far. But, I think Scott and Jeremy will be here soon. You know Scott likes you.

Lucy rolled her eyes, and chuckled, amidst the chaos of her five siblings running around the house. She couldn’t leave just yet – No other adults were home yet. She perched on the couch, hoping her parents or older sister would hurry up and relieve her.

Scott’s cute, sure, but I like Jeremy better. I’m glad he’ll be there. Anyone else?

Allison was distracted. David had lifted her chin and they’d been making out since Lucy’s first text. His hands were everywhere. For once, Allison didn’t resist.

“I like this, David,” she breathed.

“So do I. Although, I think you’re getting a little warm. How about taking off your sweatshirt? Do you need help?”

Allison giggled. “Sure, I could use some help.”

The minute David started lifting her high school orchestra sweatshirt up, he gasped.

“David? What’s wrong?”

“AAAAAHHHHH!”

“David?!”

Cackling, Joker-like laughter followed.

“Damn it, Scott, you scared the bejesus out of me!”

Allison pulled down her sweatshirt, hoping no one else had seen her lacy bra.

Scott was lifting a Michael Myers mask, still laughing.

“Hoo boy, I got you good!”

Jeremy was behind him, carrying a six-pack. David was a bit confused – None of them were 21. But, David also knew better than to ask a lot of questions.

“Damn, Scott. I screamed like a girl.”

Allison socked him in the arm. “Hey! Don’t say that.”

Scott laughed again. “He’s not wrong, Ally.”

She rolled her eyes. “Still, it’s not a nice thing to say. especially in the presence of women.”

Scott chortled. “Whatever, Miss Feminist.”

Allison knew Scott was trying to rattle her cage. But, she didn’t like it. He’d been teasing her since first grade.

David sat up, and Allison straightened.

Allison opened her mouth, about to tell them about Lucy and her texts.

In the direction of Lucy’s house, there was another scream.

After the scream, they only heard the crackle and pop of the raging bonfire.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #245: Fall Fridays, Number 6

Image Credit: Unsplash

As the wonderful season of autumn / fall has started, I wanted to create an original writing prompt series to celebrate!

I invite everyone who sees this to participate, if you choose.

The idea is to look at the prompt, take at least five minutes on the Fridays during October 2019, and come up with a story/poem/scene, or whatever strikes your fancy with those words.

This has been extended from September! You can use the image at the top of this post – Just please make sure to credit it.

Ready?

Here we go!

  • October 4th: Corn Maze
  • October 11th: Hay Ride
  • October 18th: Football
  • October 25th: Halloween

Matt called Andrea, all excited.

“Guess what? I scored season tickets!”

“What?! No way! Congratulations!”

“It only took 15 years, but I have them in my hot little hand. We’re going to Lambeau!”

Andrea was already looking up flights before the first sentence tumbled out of Matt’s mouth. He’d been a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan since childhood. Scoring season tickets was a dream come true. He’d been to Lambeau Field before – Roughly one home game every 3-4 years, and an away game near his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina every single year, without fail. His dad wasn’t a Green Bay fan, but he indulged his son.

Matt sighed on the phone, reminiscing.

“I just … I just wish Dad was here to see this. I know he wanted to be here for this.”

Andrea cradled the phone, pausing her frantic typing. Matt’s dad, in the throes of depression, died by suicide when Matt was 23. Scott had turned 50 the week before.

In a way, Matt was grateful he’d been at school when Dad died. But, he was still sad he’d died alone.

Mom had left, abandoning her 25-year marriage. The alcoholism, not the depression, had broken her spirit.

As Andrea listened, Matt recounted the good days, but clearly remembered the multiple beers at all the football games. It wasn’t necessarily unusual – Beer and football went hand-in-hand. But, Scott always pushed the limit.

When Matt was 15, just shy of getting his learner’s permit, he took the keys away for the first time. In the beginnings of a blizzard, Matt carefully drove the rental car from Lambeau to their hotel. Scott loudly protested, but Matt handled it with grace. Scott passed out in the Honda not 10 minutes later. The snow was getting heavier as he carefully navigated to the Holiday Inn after the Packers’ hard-fought loss to the Chiefs.

After calling security to get him out of the Honda, Scott woke up long enough to barf in the parking lot, all over the fresh snow. Matt winced. After Scott was cleaned up and snoring away, likely dreaming of his next drink, that was the first time Matt cried.

He remembered calling Mom, and her reaction was strangely calm.

“I’m sorry you had to deal with that, sweetheart. Especially alone. Are you okay?”

Matt swallowed. “I … Is it … Is it bad that I want to leave him here?”

Mom sighed. “Oh, honey, I’m sorry. It’s not bad. I’ve had that thought many times, unfortunately. I can send you money if you need it. But, with the blizzard …”

Matt leaned against the bank of pay phones. “I’m stuck, for now. I wish we’d picked a different game. I have school.”

Mom smiled. Her son, so studious and empathetic.

“I just want you … both of you … to be safe. Call me when he wakes up, okay?”

Matt sighed. “I wish you were here.”

“With you, yes. I’m so tired of it, all of it. But this is something my son, at 15, shouldn’t have to worry about.”

“But I am worried, Mom. He’s passed out in the double bed. I’m afraid he’s going to get sick again.”

“Go, check on him. I’ll keep watching the weather. Call me in a couple hours, okay? Don’t worry about waking me up. I don’t think I’ll be sleeping tonight.”

Their dog barked in the background, followed by sibling squabbling.

“I gotta go take care of your brother and sister. Please, call me later, okay? I love you, Matt. Thank you for being there.”

Matt sighed, crying again. “I love you, too, Mom. I’ll call around 10.”

Matt hung up, wanting to sprint out the lobby doors instead of going back up to the fourth floor. For the first time, he was truly afraid what he was going to find in Room 452.

“Matt? Matt? Are you still there?”

Andrea brought Matt back to reality. He wiped his cheeks.

“Yeah, sorry about that. Memories.”

“I know you miss your Dad. We all do.”

“Thanks, Andrea. It’s weird. Most of the time – 98 percent of the time – I’m happy. But, that other two percent comes in like a flood and takes over my brain.”

Andrea shifted the phone. “That’s why you’ve been in some sort of counseling or therapy since 2017. Don’t beat yourself up too badly, Matt. You’re a human being. You’re grieving the man you called your hero.”

Matt scoffed. “Some hero. He drank himself to death.”

“No, he didn’t. He was in a hole he couldn’t get out of. Depression is weird like that.”

Andrea struggled with the words. It was still painful, nearly 2 1/2 years later.

Matt sighed. “Hence why I haven’t touched alcohol. That made me really popular in college, by the way.”

Andrea chuckled. Matt was always able to use humor to shift conversations. It was one of many things she liked about him. As he talked, she felt that familiar longing. She’d wanted to be with him for years, but had suppressed her feelings. They’d been friends since sophomore year of college, about six months before Scott had descended into what would have been his last spiral.

Matt smiled. He was grateful for Andrea’s friendship. She’d been by his side in the good times, and especially the bad times. Many others, including his entire fraternity, had all but abandoned him.

Not Andrea. She’d stuck by him, even pushing him to finish his degree on time. She knew that was the one big thing Scott wanted. She was proud to have helped him so much.

Now she wanted to help him again. This was the first major good news in a long, long time.

“I found a flight, Matt. Lambeau, here we come!”

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #98: “Backstory: Relevant Information or an Inconsequential Event?”

Found on A Writer’s Path

I’ve been following A Writer’s Path for a while now. There are many guest posts, and I learn something from every one I read.

Here’s the link to the Backstory post:

Backstory: Relevant Information or an Inconsequential Event?

As I ease into the first round of editing of the first draft of my first novel, this post struck a chord with me. I’m grateful for my friends who have already provided feedback on the first draft, and I’m eagerly awaiting a few more to chime in with their thoughts. Thank you, Melissa, Amanda, Janaye, Hannah, and Mike.

It’s also gotten me think about my characters’ backstories in my three other novels.

What is important?

What may not be important?

Did I leave anything out?

I really liked the example the author gave with a character’s fear of spiders. On the surface, it could be a minor detail. But, that fear can also be developed into something significant, involving the main story and potential conflict. It changes from something minor to something major.

And, as I prepare to start my fifth novel during NaNoWriMo next month, I’m keeping this post in my back pocket.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂