The Weird Week in Writing: Clive Owen as Hemingway, turning your iPad into a typewriter, and Oprah's magazine marvel

Freaky Friday—the latest from the weird and wonderful world of
writing this week (followed, as always, by a prompt):

The Wired Luddite: Turn your $600 iPad into a typewriter for $400.

Playing Papa: Clive Owen = Hemingway? Owen is slated to play the legendary scribe in HBO’s new film about Hemingway’s relationship with writer Martha Gellhorn. (Who would you cast? I might Mickey Rourke it.)

The Bloomsday that was: This week the world celebrated the epic day featured in James Joyce’s Ulysses. (Last year, two fans even created 54 Twitter accounts for the novel’s main characters and tweeted a chapter of their lines in order.)

“I wish to assure our American friends that, for this performance, the England team will in fact be executed.” Which writer is tweeting the World Cup?

And who says print is dead? Not Oprah: She celebrated the 10th anniversary of O, The Oprah Magazine by giving everyone on staff an iPad and $10,000.

”We are not dealing with Penguin books”: Using his “thief’s shopping list,” a man allegedly stole tens of thousands of dollars worth of rare books in London.

Spawn spawns legal battle: Writer Neil Gaiman V. artist Todd McFarlane. Comics hit the courts.

(Image: Via)

* * *

WRITING PROMPT: The Dead Pool (Thanks to WD Online Community Ed. Brian A. Klems)

free to take the following prompt home or post a
response (500
words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section below.
By posting, you’ll be automatically entered in our
occasional around-the-office swag drawings.
you’re having trouble with the
captcha code sticking, e-mail your piece and the prompt to me at, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and I’ll
make sure it gets up.

You and a friend break into your neighborhood swim club late one night
to go for an after-hours dip. As you splash around in the pool, a body floats to the top—and it’s someone
you know. Write this scene.


Top 101 Websites for Writers. An entire feature package on genres, from
romance to YA to blended forms. An interview with Bird by Bird scribe
Anne Lamott. How to write from anywhere. Click

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2 thoughts on “The Weird Week in Writing: Clive Owen as Hemingway, turning your iPad into a typewriter, and Oprah's magazine marvel

  1. Dorraine

    Zac, this was a real challenge for me. I don’t normally write freaky stuff like this. Thanks, I think!

    And, hey, Mark. Your story gave me goosebumps. Very creepy. Well done!

    Fish Bowl

    The girl was standing against an airstream camper, head raised toward a sky blistered with stars. The moon was sharp and full, shining up her red hair. He’d seen her earlier, throwing scraps in the outside trashcan, no one else around. Wilson stopped and rolled down his window. “Hey, you wanna be my friend?”

    She sashayed over, blowing and popping a pink bubble through his open window. “How’d you know, doll?” She jumped in next to him, hair smelling like vanilla cream.

    Wilson hit the gas. He preferred more of a challenge and thought he might have chosen the wrong girl. The first one fought like a wildcat, but in the end she’d lost. They always did. Two in one night, now there was a new challenge. He couldn’t wait to see her expression when he took her to the same place, and caught her like a fish in a bowl. When they were clear of the RV park, he lit up a smoke and offered it to her.

    “What’s your name, sweetheart?”

    “Violet,” she said, taking the cigarette. She blew a smoke cloud at the roof. “And yours?”

    “Wilson. How old are you, honey?”

    “Old enough for some fun, mister. Where we headed?”

    “You like to swim?”

    Violet winked. “I don’t have my suit.”

    “Not a problem.” Edgy, he pumped up his speed and peeled around corners. If she got scared, he’d haul her right back. Another fighter is what he wanted.

    “Whoo whee!”

    Perfect response. A few yards before arriving at a neighborhood pool, tucked off by itself in a stand of pine trees, he clicked off his lights, rolling in like a silent black spider.

    Her eyes widened. “Why’d you turn your lights off?”

    Wilson put his finger to his lips and whispered, “Don’t want no one to know we’re here, now do we, love? We’ll climb the fence and have ourselves a fine little swim.”

    Violet was laughing at a joke he’d made while scaling the fence, him thinking how utterly stupid this girl was. How naive. He threw his keys next to them on the concrete and grabbed her. They stood at the pools edge kissing, and out of the corner of his eye, he could see Anna’s body, floating face down on the surface toward the deep end.

    He yanked at Violet’s clothes. “Come on, let’s get in now.”

    “Wilson, Wilson, what’s your hurry?” she whispered in his hair. And then he felt something slice like ice through his stomach. He stumbled back, sucking in his breath and holding his gut, shock and horror on his face. Violet held the knife up, like some freakish warrior, grinning wide. One hard shove with her foot and he fell backwards into the pool.

    Wilson flailed and bled, wailed and begged. She picked up his car keys and dangled them,that tinkle tinkle the last thing he heard before drowning.

    Yeah, Violet had seen that other girl, floating like a bloated marshmallow in the deep end, but she didn’t give a flip. She’d also watched Wilson circling the RV site and hoped he’d pick her up. She had counted on that.

    They came from the same fish bowl.

  2. Mark James

    Hey. . . wait just a minute . . . I have Penguin books that are VERY valuable to me. And yeah. . definitely Mickey Rourke.

    On the night before his thirtieth birthday, Samuel found a key, left his wife, and killed his best friend. It happened something like this.

    Sam lived in the back end of nowhere, on a flat piece of sunburned ground where, about seventy five years ago, the railroad decided to build a town. At exactly midnight the train still ran through Midcity, and the town, well, it was still there, looking like anything does after seventy five years—run down and used up.

    Driving home from his job at the Midcity Motel, memories flipped through Sam’s mind like polaroids on the cream pages of a scrapbook, thin slices of life, drained of color. Except the memory of Vic and Justine, the two of them naked and writhing on the bed where Sam had first made love to his wife. That washed over his thoughts in colors so vivid, he nearly missed the turn to Vic’s place.

    He killed the truck’s headlights, crept up the gravel driveway, and waited. The front door slid open. Sam watched Vic ease out, lean against the wooden railing, and peer into the dark.

    “What the hell you up to, Sam? It’s going on midnight soon enough.”

    Sam, who had been hunting since he was old enough to hold a toy gun, knew how to bait every animal he came across, including Vic. “Let’s go swimming,” he said. “I found the key.”

    Vic climbed into the truck and grabbed a beer from the six pack he knew would be at his feet, and before they’d gone more than a few miles down the road, the beer became a four pack. Bait; it always brought in the prey, then it was up to the hunter to do the slaughtering.

    On the way through town, Sam checked the tower clock; about a half hour.

    “You don’t want one, birthday boy?”

    “My treat,” Sam said.

    Parking in one of the motel’s five spaces, they went around back, and Sam opened the gate to the pool.

    Walking a little unsteadily, holding his third beer, Vic said, “We’re the first ones, aren’t we?”

    “Not really,” Sam said.

    They stood on the edge of the first in-ground pool the motel had ever had. Sam slipped out of his clothes. His smooth dive barely disturbed the water. Vic undressed, sat on the edge and slid down. They swam way out to the deep end, and floated, looked up at the stars.

    “I know about you and Justine,” Sam said.

    Vic splashed, tried to get himself upright in the water, and maybe two beers ago, he could have done it before Sam’s fingers wrapped around his throat.

    From the corner of his eye, Sam saw Royce rise to the surface, his blank eyes wide open, staring.

    “Didn’t think she’d two-time you with someone else, did you?” Sam squeezed tighter.

    Vic fought hard, but each time Sam pushed him under, he stayed down a little longer, till he didn’t come up anymore.

    Samuel swam to the edge of the pool, got dressed, left his truck where it was, and jogged to the train station.

    The freight train came through at a slow crawl. At just past midnight, a passenger jumped on board, and spent the first minutes of his thirtieth birthday watching the place where he’d spent a lifetime slide away into forever.