AAWC: Challenge #1

Today it’s time for the first in a series of writing prompts in the Ardent Author’s Writing Challenge, hosted by the lovely Zielle at My Homeschool Notebook.

Like other writing challenges which I have participated in (at least, I think I’ve participated in one before? I don’t know …), I will be posting my entries on this blog, and … yep. That’s about all you need to know! Let the games begin!

I’m on Team Forest, and I’m so excited! Because Team Forest is gonna win! *happy dance* WHY IS WE GONNA WIN!?!?!? BECAUSE WE IS AWESOME! GO TEAM FOREST!

Yes, I am posting on Friday evening. Don’t look at me like that. There’s a deadline ….

Team Forest

|Getting extra points|

  • You can take photos or draw pictures to illustrate your story. You will get 2 points per photo and illustration.
  • Creativity. This is how creatively you use the prompts. At the end of each round I’ll select my favorite story and that person will earn more points for their team.
  • If you use the name of you team in your story, you can earn a point for your team.
  • You’ll get a point for each prompt you use, and a point for submitting your story/poem.

|Challenge One Prompts|

And, without further ado, my Challenge #1 submission!

(For Zielle: I included the word ‘forest’ as well as two of the picture prompts (first and last). I also made a cover for my story as well as did some illustrating. *coughs* Do I get extra points for being a terrible artist and still showing my work?)

The Marvelous Machine, Part 1

The Marvelous Machine

The branches hung low and bare as Peter and Riley hiked through the Virginia forest. Peter pulled his coat tight about his shoulders and coughed. He’d had a bit of a cold ever since they’d arrived home from college for Christmas, so Riley hadn’t pulled him out of the house until today.

But now he had, and Peter was going to see this ‘marvelous invention’ that Riley had started making last summer while Peter was in Philadelphia working at the Pennsylvania Herald.

“It’s just over this hill, really,” Riley promised.

Peter groaned. “You’ve been saying that for forever, Riley! I swear, if I come down with pneumonia -!”

“Don’t be such a worrywart,” Riley admonished. “We’re almost there. You see, it has to be remote, Peter. I can’t have people stealing my ideas, after all.”

Poor, delusional Riley, Peter thought. He was always trying out new inventions – but they never worked. He’d hoped he’d give them up now that they were adults, but so far, no such thing had happened.

To Peter’s surprise, when they mounted the hill, they did come upon Riley’s hideaway – an old, tumbledown shed, about the size of a small carriage house made of old, grayed boards, obviously patched in places.

This looks more like a warehouse, but oh well …

“It’s really quite brilliant this time, Penn. You’d be surprised.”

Peter rolled his eyes at Riley’s nickname for him, stemming from his Pennsylvania home which Riley thought was funny for some reason, but nodded and smiled. “I’m sure it is, Riley. Most of your ideas are brilliant … it’s just that … sometimes … um, they … don’t seem to get much past ideas!”

Riley glared at Peter. “That’s your nice way of saying I don’t follow things through, isn’t it?”

Peter shrugged guiltily. He didn’t want to say it, but …

“Oh, well. I’ll change your mind today!”

Peter ambled down the hill after Riley to the shed. Riley opened the small door to the side and ushered him in.

It was dark and smelled damp and musty inside. Peter put a hand on the wall and eased himself to the side as Riley entered. After fumbling around in the dark for a few minutes, amusing Peter by his vocal annoyance in the form of colorful but innocent expletives, Riley managed to get a candle lit and set on a shelf near the door.

“There!” Riley said. He gestured towards a large object hidden under a tarp. He approached it and ripped the covering off. Peter gawked.

Forgive Riley’s *coughs* handwriting …

It was unlike anything Riley had ever built, that was for sure. It was all metal and wheels and cogs and gears, but it was more than a plan on paper – that was for sure.

“What do you think?” Riley asked, rubbing his hands through his pale blond hair until it stood up on end. “It’s a mechanized flying machine.”

Peter arched his eyebrows. “It looks like a carriage to me … only with lots of extra parts.”

“Well, I haven’t attached the wings yet.”

Peter held back a laugh. “I see,” he said, tight-lipped. “Er … how does it work?”

“Well, I haven’t exactly got it to run yet. But it will run on steam, like a locomotive.” Riley jumped over various parts to the end. “Here’s the boiler, see?” He motioned to a large tank attached to what would have been the back of the carriage. “And you sit in the driver’s seat … and use those pedals to steer ….”

Riley’s voice trailed off as he made his way back to the front. “I know it looks awful now, but with enough momentum, I can get it off the ground. I’m thinking about taking it off the cliff yonder.” He motioned over his shoulder.

Peter choked and cleared his throat. “Er, Riley? That may not be the best idea. Perhaps test it on something smaller. I mean, you’re more than likely to end up with that contraption in a tree halfway down the hill. It really just looks like a metallic carriage, and no-doubt it was sink like a rock. And it will be stuck in a tree, and your body will be broken into a thousand bits.”

I imagine this flashing through Peter’s mind …

Riley shrugged. “Well, I’ll make sure everything works first. It’s going to take me a while to perfect, anyway. But … that’s all I wanted to show you. I have the blueprints at home – we can look at them after dinner, all right?”

“All right,” Peter said, trying to look positive about the prospect. He really wanted to be supportive of his best friend and cousin … but it was hard when Riley was likely to get himself killed in the process. “I’m sure Aunt Georgiana is wondering where we are, anyway.”

Peter helped Riley replace the tarp, and they started back to the house.


Christmas was only three days away. It had been a long time since Peter had spent Christmas at his aunt’s home in Virginia, and he hadn’t remembered how much he loved these people.

Yes, his aunt could be a difficult person to get along with, but his Uncle Colin was a pleasant if serious man, and of course he loved his cousins. The only one who he had reservations about due to her strict bossiness – Sylvia – was spending Christmas with her husband and his family in New York.

His Aunt Georgiana was up in her room that day, complaining of a sick headache – though Peter secretly believed she was just hurting as she was approaching the anniversary of the death of her eldest son to a Yankee bullet. It had been over ten years, though, and Peter really hoped she’d find peace over it soon.

Downstairs, the house was all merry and bright, though. Trimmed with all kinds of firs and other greenery with candles tucked in every available corner, it was a sight to behold. His baby sister Dahlia was all wound up wondering what was in the parcels in the parlor. She was only five, and she wasn’t used to the grand scale of Christmases at his aunt’s home. He honestly didn’t know how they afforded it.

Christmas presents are hard to individually draw. So I didn’t.

His adopted sister, Maddie, was curled up in the parlor with Dahlia on her lap now – reading her A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Dahlia apparently thought it was very funny and was giggling loudly. Maddie laughed softly and eased Dahlia off her lap as Riley and Peter entered the room.

“I think they’re keeping dinner for you,” Maddie said. “We’d better hurry.”

“They are!” Dahlia piped up. “They’re awful mad! You’re gonna be in trouble,” she said merrily, ringlets bouncing as she danced about them in glee.

“Shame on you for being so glad over your brother’s downfall!” Riley scolded, scooping Dahlia up in his arms, causing her to squeal and shriek.

“My downfall?” Peter asked. “What about you?”

“No need to talk about such dismal subjects, Penn,” Riley replied. He set Dahlia down in the doorway and let her run off to the dining room. Peter followed, but stopped when he realized Riley and Maddie weren’t with him.

Turning, he discovered them still standing in the doorway to the parlor … just staring at each other. Maddie looked forbidding while Riley had on a half-embarrassed, half-amused expression.

“What’s going on?” Peter asked patiently. Maddie and Riley had had a catastrophic relationship ever since he threw one of her prized books into a lake at the tender age of eleven. They were always angry at each other over something – quite unusual for Maddie.

With an awkward chuckle, Riley pointed to the mistletoe above their heads.

This is what mistletoe looks like. No joke.

“Oh, come on, you know you don’t have to unless you want to,” Peter said, stomach dropping to his toes. “And it certainly wouldn’t be right, anyway. Come on!”

Maddie darted away and past Peter into the dining room.

“Why can’t you just leave her alone?” Peter asked, not knowing whether to hit his best friend or … no, there was really no other option. He wanted to hit him for putting Maddie in that situation.

Riley’s eyebrows arched and his blue eyes dimmed. “Penn … you didn’t tell me. If you and Maddie -”

“No. Er, no. I … there’s nothing to tell.” He swallowed. “Let’s go in and eat.”


Shame on me for writing a Christmas story in January, but oh well. It happened. It’s my blog. I can do whatever I want with it …

Thanks for reading and happy writing!

~Kellyn Roth~

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Are you participating in AAWC? Have you ever participated in a writing contest like this one? What are your thoughts on my entry?


18 thoughts on “AAWC: Challenge #1

  1. Haha, I enjoyed this, especially the pictures! 🙂 My favorite is Peter’s thought process about Riley falling off the cliff! 😛 And this isn’t AFOP Peter, right? I don’t remember him mentioning a sister, so…

    Right now I’m going for Riley x Maddie, but it could go either way… unless Peter is AFOP Peter, in which case it’s DEFINITELY Riley x Maddie because Alice. 😛

    I’ve never actually participated in these sorts of writing contests. Personally, I just feel like they’re graded unfairly, on how much stuff people can put into the story rather than how well they can write it. But you did pretty good at making the prompts work! And it makes me want to read more. 😀

    Also, Christmas stories in January are totally acceptable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, well, Peter has seen it happen before … 😉 Actually, this is the same Peter. He has two sisters and a brother. Which *coughs* I may or may not have left out of AFOP in the first draft accidentally. *coughs*

      You got it. Actually, Peter talks about Maddie a little bit in AFOP. And then worries that he’ll make the same mistakes – he never told her how he felt – with Alice.

      Yeahhh, it really shouldn’t be graded like that. But I figure it’s a fun writing exercise, anyway. Though I tend to pick and choose among the prompts sometimes. 😛

      Yay someone agrees with me!



        Awww no. Well, at least there was Alice waiting for him. 🙂 (You know, I don’t think my comment is making sense, but whatever.)

        Hehe, yeah, I can’t complain too much because I can’t think of how someone would make a better one…

        Haha, definitely! Christmas all year round!

        Liked by 1 person

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