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The Haunted Inkwell

Welcome to the most wonderful time of the year! Yep, PY Writes got together once again to try our rotting, disembodied hands at haunting and horrific Halloween-themed writing prompts! Here’s what I came up with. (Stories appear as they were written, which is to say, they haven’t been edited.) Each prompt was just five minutes long, so if you don’t like abrupt and unresolved endings, look away! Otherwise: Enter if you dare. 

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First prompt: Write a mini sequel to a classic horror story.

He grew sick of the cold after two days on the ice. He didn’t seem to grow cold—his skin was toughened, like the hides of animals he’d slept near in barns reeking of offal—but the endless white nothing was too much. And so he clambered over the ice and snow, avoiding the rare ship ablaze with torches, wooden hulls creaking, and found his way to a little farm on the edge of a glacier. 

A woman sat alone by the hearth, asleep, a pile of knitting in her lap. Her cheeks were rosy from the heat of the fire. The monster gripped the edge of the frost-coated windowsill with his clumsy fingers.

“You there!” A hand clamped on his misshapen shoulder. “Pervert! Get away from there!”

A young man, too young to grow more than a shadow of a beard on his weak chin, stood before the monster. Or beneath him, as he barely came to the creature’s chest. The sound of his neck snapping rolled across the empty fields.

Second prompt: Pick an image (from the cover art of Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark) and write about it. 

Creepy bird. Zombie bird, maybe?

Creepy bird. Zombie bird, maybe?

The French exchange students and their American classmates stood in a clump in front of the zoo exit. The gates were down, and locked.

“Mon dieu, mon dieu,” Chantal sobbed. Isabelle put her arm around Chantal.

“What is that?” Alex said, and pointed a shaking finger above their heads.

A bird—or what was left of a bird—wobbled on the branch of a tree near the Snack Shack. It opened its beak and uttered a sound, half squawk, half gurgle. 

At the same time, a guttural growl grew from the quickening gloom behind them. They turned together, clutching whichever hand was closest.

A lion, the bones of his ribs and spine glistening in the dying light, sauntered toward them, thick gray strands of saliva dripping from its jaws.

“In here!” a voice shouted, and the students turned again.

Third prompt: Write about what scares you the most.

It took me a few minutes to realize that my eyes were open. Wherever I was—laying on the cold ground, pebbles pressing into my back—was so completely void of light that I might as well have been blind. 

I sat up. The smart thing to do would be to stand up, or reach out and feel my surroundings. But what if something was there, right in front of me, beside me? What if something was holding its breath, waiting to breathe when I breathed, what if—

Something hairy and hot plopped onto my head and skittered down my face. I screamed hard enough to make my throat burn. Whatever was in wherever I was with me had plenty of time to breathe when that happened.

I did stand, finally, when my foot cramped up. I hobbled across the empty space, hands out in front of me, spine stiffened against whatever terror my fingertips were about to touch.

And then: A light switch!

This is the cover of the notebook I was using last night. Which, given the things I wrote, is a rather unsettling thought. Happy Halloween!

Subtitle: Ahhhhh!

Subtitle: Ahhhhh!

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Award-Winning Writer? That’s Me!

Yesterday, I had the honor of receiving the Charles Hauser Prize for Prose from the Chautauqua Literary Arts Friends at the Chautauqua Institution for my short story, “Through the Storm.” It’s the tale of a young girl, her ailing brother, and one fateful stormy night.

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Here’s what the judge for the contest had to say about it:

This piece pulled me right in with rich detail and a distinct voice from the opening sentence. I feel as if I’m right there in the scene with the characters. The author was able to compress a lot into just a couple of pages with lyrical, rhythmic description like this: “…listened to the rain come down on the roof and the yard and the busted car in the driveway, on the barn with the lonesome dog that wouldn’t let anyone pet her anymore, on the mailbox with the flag rusted up forever like we were putting out mail every day, sending letters to the whole world.”

I visited Chautauqua for the first time earlier this summer, and can’t wait to spend a week there next year. And yes, I’m definitely going to refer to myself as “award-winning fiction writer Bethany Snyder” from now on!
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Finger Lakes Famous?

IMG_4973Check out this interview I did with The Finger Lakes Times. And if you can, pick up a copy and flip it below the fold to see my giant head (not because of the press, but because of the size of the photo!)

Here’s an excerpt:

Snyder said writing has been part of her life since she was 8. She credits one of her teachers at Penn Yan Elementary, Geraldine Turner, with encouraging her. “She was the first person who ever asked me to write a story, and I knew that was what I was meant to do,” she said.

 

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