Creative Copy Challenge #98

Our Own Kelly Erickson of Maximum Customer Experience chose today’s words.  Show her what’s possible with creative writing.

BET YOU CAN’T do this writing prompt. Take the 10 random words below and, in the comments, crush writer’s block by creating a cohesive, creative short story tying all of them together! And remember: after (if) you finish, highlight your words and click the bold button to make them stand out and help you determine if you forgot any words. (If you’ve missed previous writing prompts, we BET YOU CAN’T do those, either.)

  1. Ship
  2. Financial
  3. Bronchitis
  4. Gray-haired mouse
  5. Maybe they’ll be happy
  6. Speaker
  7. Skyscraper
  8. Philadelphia
  9. Sensual
  10. Nova Scotia

NOTE: Don’t copy and paste from MS Word. Use a program like notepad that removes formatting or just type in the comment field itself. Also, finish your submission, THEN bold the words. Thanks. (And don’t forget to tweet this and share it with your friends.)

Resources you should check out:
Thesis: Best Damn Theme on the Web
Collective Ink Well: Personalize Your Thesis Theme
Third Tribe Marketing: Marketing done the right way
Story Structure Demystified: Best damn writing book out there


67 Comments on “Creative Copy Challenge #98”

  1. Shane Arthur says:

    I got up feeling so down
    Financial ship has hit ground
    My hamster wheel is rolling
    A gray-haired mouse I’m old now
    My brain’s a pounding speaker
    Bronchitis feeling no good
    I’m looking Philadelphia
    And feeling Nova Scotia
    So now you know.
    Who gets sensual eyes?
    Maybe they’ll be happy child, I’d like to say
    That I’m up on a skyscraper today.
    Gives me the butterflies
    Takes my breath away.
    Till I land on the street again.
    I’m feeling benign, benign, benign.

    (Thanks to the band Soundgarden and their song Outshined for the inspiration)

  2. margaret says:

    Our financial ship has sailed in this economy and the government needs to send out one that is not leaky. Hopes of a once-again affluent America are as lofty as the tallest skyscraper in Philadelphia. Maybe all some of those horny politicians will listen to as a speaker for the people is a sensual economics major from Nova Scotia.

    As Long as they are comfy-cozy in their multi-million dollar estates, it seems they don’t give a grey haired mouse‘s ass about the rest of us. Maybe they’ll be happy when half of America is homeless and living in an alley with bronchitis and no health insurance!

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Ma: Made me laugh, especially the mouse line. Loved it.

      ps. I sure hope half of those Americans start reading up on Self Sufficiency stuff. This is my fav:

      • margaret says:

        Hey, what doesn’t kill ya makes you stronger! It’s amazing what a little financial creativity will get u.  I personally have been surviving on the barter system for years.  I do flowers for my mechanic, hairdresser, veterinarian, chiropractor/holistic dr., etc. and never feel shy about asking a different service provider if they want to barter…the worst thing they can say is no. They are usually happy to trade services and I also trade labor hours with friends for different jobs each of us would be better doing.

        • Shane Arthur says:

          @Ma: That’s great. One of the thing I’m most happy about lately on the self suffieiency front is making my own bread. I used this recipe and am so addicted to making my own now. I swear to you, it taste just like Olive Gardens. I put butter and garlic/sea salt on the top as it’s cooking. Super yummy!
          If you CCC folks have never tried to do this, get yourself some cast iron pots and give this recipe a try. The cost of flour and yeast is so cheap, you can make about 3 big loafs for $4. If you think the CCC is addictive, wait till you’re tried this. 🙂

          • margaret says:

            Thanks for sharing, Shane…I’ll have to try that one. I actually used to make sourdough bread from scratch when the kids were little.  Don’t remember the recipe, but I remember
            that I used to cook potatoes, let the potato water sit overnight till it started getting icky and that became the sourdough starter when you added yeast to it. weird, but the bread
            was awesome!

    • Kelly says:

      Margaret–Nice rant–and “sensual economics major from Nova Scotia” is too funny! Is that where they all hide?

    • Cathy Miller says:

      @Margaret-love that gray-hared mouse’s ass line-LOL!! 😀

  3. Kelly says:


    My arm, draped over the doorknob. Sitting here, waiting for your return. It’ll be a few days, I guess…

    The arm tingles a bit and I drop it down to my lap. Guess I’ve been sitting here a while without noticing. Guess I should shuffle off to the kitchen. Get something to eat.

    When you had to ship out on short notice, I didn’t think much of it. Happens to you all the time. I drove you up to Philadelphia to listen to the loud speakers and help you race off on a red-eye flight and I came back home for a couple more hours’ sleep. You’ll be gone for a few weeks, help a new plant set up their financial system, make sure it “spins like a top,” as you always say, then you’ll pop back in. You always get bonus pay for the trips, and absence… well, it really does make the heart grow fonder. We’ve had some of the most sensual (downright amazing!) nights of our marriage in the days and weeks after you return.

    Neither of us vows never to be parted again. I’m not a grey-haired mouse waiting in a corner; I like my alone time, honestly. It probably bugs you more than it does me, but you like the job.  Maybe they’ll be happy enough with your devotion that you’ll get the corner office one day. So for now, okay, it’s part of our world.

    You call me every night, and text me until it’s like I’m not really alone anyway. After the sixth of the day, it’s starting to get on my nerves:

    Nova Scotia’s so buggery cold,” reads the text. “Wet, too. Think I’m getting bronchitis from all this GREYness. Wrong season to be in CAN. Get me out of here!”

    “Okay, poof. You’re out. Now let me do some work, k?”

    Twenty minutes later there’s a buzz on my hip again. “Everybody deserves a wknd off 1nce in a while.”


    “All ur fault. U did the poofing. I’m catching the last plane. Come get me at PHL at 6. There’s a Flyers game tonight, let’s stay in and get so busy we forget to watch it.”

    “Forgot already, hurry home!!”

    No buzzing for the rest of the day, then, as you head for the airport and do their dance. I can get some work done, and I’m working at breakneck speed knowing I won’t get anything else done ‘til Monday. Working at breakneck speed knowing not working, with you, will be way more fun than working at all hours.

    Maybe I am a bit of a mouse after all. Look how I come alive for a tasty treat like you!

    Putting on my coat at 5. Never know, the flight might be early or the traffic might be awful, so I’ll go now. I’ll stare at the skyscrapers in the city from the lounge if I’m early. Phone rings as my hand’s on the door. Number’s in Canada; what are you doing there still?

    “Hey, babe. Flight delayed?”

    “Mrs. Angelo, this is Officer Trilby calling.”

    I’m sure Officer Trilby said more than that. Very sorry.  Black ice on the road as you headed for the airport. But I didn’t really hear her. Instead I sat down right here, one arm draped over the doorknob, and wondered why I pay Carol 25 dollars an hour if she’s not going to vacuum in the corners.

    Can you believe the edges of this carpet? I can’t have people in here after the…


    with the carpet looking like this. I just


    do it.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Kelly: Absolutely wonderful read. I love when someone pours their soul out…and does it with utmost literary skill.

      • Kelly says:

        Shane–Thanks! And to think I had all that time, but I had no idea what would happen until a few minutes ago when the first sentence showed up. The character just started talking, and I wrote down what she said.

    • That last bit, from when she picks up the phone & her whole world falls apart, just grabbed me & yanked me willy-nilly into her world.

      I’ve had New York Minutes like that, tho’ fortunately not exactly like that, and you do pick out the oddest things to fixate on in such times.
      Well done! :>

    • Cathy Miller says:

      @Kelly-wow-that just really grabs you-so well written-taking a deep breath now

  4. A. Hamilton says:

    Kelly; Observationally astute use of, “Not going to vacuum in the corners.” Also like the multi use of, “One arm draped over the doorknob.” It was a trait that a professor of mine said made my writing, “Vintage Buddy.” (my name)

    • Kelly says:

      Thanks, A! I just tried to think of times when I’ve been slammed hard by something, how I tend to zoom my eyes in on something microscopic to try to hold on to my emotions. I figured that’s about what she might be going through, that kind of hyperfocus. Glad you liked it!

  5. They’d travelled from Nova Scotia on a ship of dubious origins, headed for Philadelphia and a new life.

    She was a gray-haired mouse, small & delicate, who had a sensual way of scurrying through the walls that set his heart (& other parts) on fire.

    Why were they doing such a thing? As for so many these days, the reasons were primarily financial.

    Times at home were just too hard, and they were hoping that the ever-present tourists in Philadelphia would lead to a large enough supply of crumbs, scraps, & other leavings that they would never be hungry again.

    They’d find a cozy hole in some skyscraper downtown and make a new life for themselves. And a family.

    She’d always wanted one of those.

    But right now, she had to get there, alive & in one piece. Which wasn’t going to be easy. She’d caught bronchitis, hanging out in the cold wind on deck one too many times, and was now curled up in a speaker box feeling miserable.

    She wanted the voyage to be over, the rocking of the waves to subside & leave her in peace instead of this perpetual motion they’d been in ever since they’d left.

    She dreamed of her new home, twitching in her sleep.

    So what’s next, you ask?

    Maybe they’ll be happy. Maybe not. As with all stories, we’ll never really know. All we can do is wish them well as we close the curtain on this scene.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Birdy Diamond: FANTASTIC 1st submission. People are going to love you here. I know I did. Loved that piece.
      I’ll add your name and url to the CCC Community page next. What did you think of the challenge? We have them every Monday and Thursday, so I’m hoping to see more of you. Everyone welcome Birdy (great name btw) to the addiction.

    • Cathy Miller says:

      @Birdy-fabulous read-@A is right-you could picture the whole scene-that’s a gift

    • Kelly says:

      Birdy—Oh my gosh. Loved this piece! (If you troll through my CCC “compilation” on the community page you’ll find I have a soft spot for Philly mice!!)
      Every detail of your write is wonderful. Welcome to CCC!

  6. […] Challenge 98 1. Ship 2. Financial 3. Bronchitis 4. Gray-haired mouse 5. Maybe they’ll be happy 6. Speaker 7. Skyscraper 8. Philadelphia 9. Sensual 10. Nova Scotia […]

  7. Cathy Miller says:

    @Birdy Diamond-Welcome to CCC!

    If you think your creative ship has sailed, just come on over to CCC. When the financial downturn puts you in a funk you can always find a reason to smile at CCC. The pure joy you’ll find is as treasured as a deep, clear breath for someone getting over the winter’s bronchitis.

    Shake off those doldrums, dust off the keyboard and find a survivor’s guide more telling than a gray-haired mouse who has shaken many a cat’s grasp. Build your story, create your characters. The journey is all yours. Maybe they’ll be happy, maybe they’ll be silly or maybe they will break your heart. You are their speaker, you are their skyscraper of hope.

    Join our community from philosophical Philadelphia to laughing London, to a sensual Scott and perhaps some nattering from Nova Scotia = the CCC community welcomes all, and today we welcome you!

  8. Shane Arthur says:

    Kathleen wanted to share the message below with everyone here.
    We just wanted to send out a quick note to let you know that Grace Notes Publishing is launching their 2nd Annual Discovering the Undiscovered contests for book-length manuscripts, awarding over $2000 in cash and product prizes to winners & finalists PLUS publishing offers through both Grace Notes Books and NOTES Magazine. These contests are open to:

    Memoirs or other long form creative nonfiction
    Collections of short fiction, essays, or a combination of both
    Poetry collections over 35 pages

    For those who were familiar with this competition last year, please note the following changes:

    We have combined the fiction & creative nonfiction categories to be all-inclusive so that you may enter not only a novel or a memoir but any combination collection of short fiction, creative essays, and novellas as well.
    In addition, our prose contest is offering a feedback option to all entrants rather than finalists only. Early bird entries who order feedback from our 1st round readers may also have the opportunity to revise their manuscript and resubmit it for a better chance of moving on as a finalist in the competition!
    We’ve also extended our collected poetry competition this year to have a longer cycle with longer deadlines so everyone has a chance to dust off their manuscript and give it a shot!

    Visit Grace Notes Publishing for competition guidelines, prize information, and to enter your manuscript today!

  9. [continue from #97]
    The sphixes exploded at midnight.
    Most of the building was leveled. Dozens of guests at the Ritz-Carlton Brothel Street Party were killed, including the guest speaker and his concubines. Hundreds more were injured. The financial losses were staggering. I went to see Tym as soon as I got the news.
    Maybe they’ll be happy with that,” said Tym.
    “You really are spineless, aren’t you?” I asked.
    “Obviously,” said Tym. “Pseudoplasmbots are designed that way.”
    “No wonder you were installed as a bureaucrat,” I said. “A gray-haired mouse with bronchitis would put up more of a fight.”
    Tym smiled a pleasant bureaucratic smiled; not too happy, and only slightly condescending. “The dead revelers were sensual addicts, and both the brothel and the temple have insurance. So there’s really no significant loss here. They were going to build a skyscraper on the temple site next year anyway.”
    That’s when I shot him; it’s one of the advantages of not officially being here. Anyone investigating would find that I am officially on a ship bound for Nova Scotia, while the blaster I’m carrying is in a museum in Philadelphia. Since blaster bolts are over 2000 degrees, the middle of Tym was vaporized in an instant, and the gas expansion blew the rest of him all over the room. I went back to the hotel to take a shower and think about why the Franchise would go to so much trouble just to kill tourists.
    [to be continued…maybe]

  10. Cathy Miller says:

    Jeremy stood, arms akimbo and his legs braced against the rising waves. He imagined himself Captain of a glorious ship on a daring voyage in search of massive gold, bringing him great financial rewards.

    His body shook in a fit of coughing as it fought off the last days of bronchitis. That’s why he was home on a weekday, instead of school. He had been bored hanging out in his room so he went in search of adventure. He found it in the controls of his mother’s new vibrating bed.

    With his stuffed, gray-haired mouse, Gregory, tucked under his arm, Jeremy pushed the 3-wave massage button and climbed aboard.

    “Ahoy, Gregory, turn about. The pirates are in our sight. Fire the cannon. They’ll not be boarding our ship today.”

    Jeremy punched the air in triumph.

    “Yes – a direct hit! Maybe they’ll be happy to turn their blasted ship around.”

    Leaping off the bed, Jeremy raced to turn up the speaker on the CD player. Cymbals crashed with the sound of imaginary cannons.

    “We’re under attack, Gregory. Batten down the hatches.”

    Jeremy piled pillows in a skyscraper barrier, diving behind the wall just in time. Then he was hit – with another barrage of coughing.

    “Jeremy Michael, just what do you think you are doing?”

    “Oh, hi, Dad. I thought you were in Philadelphia.”

    “Yeah, well now I’m not. Where’s your mother?”

    “She went to get rations. Gregory and I are fighting off pirates.”

    His Dad watched Jeremy slowly rise and fall on the undulating bed and had a much different idea for the sensual ship under his command.

    “Well, you’d better be sailing for Nova Scotia when your mother finds you on her new bed.”

    “This isn’t a bed. It’s my ship. It’s so cool.”

    “Sorry, buddy, but we’re grounding this ship. And if you don’t want the same treatment, you’d better turn it off now.”

    With a pouting lip, Jeremy punched the Off button.

    “Come on, Gregory. I guess the pirates won – today anyway.”

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Cathy: ohhh, the way you arrange words so well! A wonderful read that brought back fond memories of days when a couch wasn’t a couch, but a pillowed fort to crawl through.

      • Cathy Miller says:

        @Shane-thanks-my brothers and one of my sisters used to play this game where we would turn out all the lights and then sneak up the stairs to the 3rd floor of our house. The old, creaky stairs would reveal our position & we would pound the perpetrator with blankets and pillows, then throw on the lights, laughing triumphantly!
        P.S. I was one of the best sneaks who made it consistently to the top-at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! 🙂

      • A. Hamilton says:

        Cathy; Again! amazing, simply amazing. What an imagination.

    • Kelly says:

      Cathy—Hee hee, love it!!
      I am starting to feel bad that I gave eveybody bronchitis with my words choice, though! I can hear characters all over the CCC coughing…

  11. [some days ya can’t eat just one]

    The skyscraper stood tall against the skyline, the lone sensual feature of the sterile financial district. One lonely light burned in a window high above the Philadelphia streets.

    Skip, an actuarial accountant, coughed into the phone. He was weak from bronchitis, and the coughing made his gray-haired mouse-like body shiver and shake like a quake in Nova Scotia.

    “I don’t care if the backers have cold feet,” Skip growled. “Tell those deadbeats that they still have to pay the premiums.”

    The voice on the speaker mumbled something about inadequate equipment and training. Skip interrupted. “Not my problem. It left 4 days ago, and will arrive in New York in 3 more days. Tell the backers to take that up with the Captain when he arrives. In the meantime, the insurance payment is overdue, so collect it!”

    He slammed the phone down, cursing the fools that made him work late on a hot April night. “Maybe they’ll be happy if the ship sinks,” he said aloud, and laughed, “Not likely!” He tossed the Titanic file back into the drawer, and went home.

  12. Shenee says:

    Oh, this was a blast. First time here!
    Here is the thing about taking a ship to Nova Scotia. It’s not always the best. Especially if you are taking the ship from Philadelphia. Especially if you aren’t sure if this ship will actually get you to Nova Scotia
    The trip is uneventful and dull so I spend my time people watching. I am particularly interested in the man who is always alone. He speaks sometimes. Always to himself. And not very loudly.
    His voice was sensual, as if he was on the tail-end of a bad bout with bronchitis. He was sitting by himself, a book on his lap. He doodled on what looked like financial papers. It looked like he was doodling a skyscraper. Right on top of the important bits. I know this because I am a world-renowned speaker who specializes in delivering bad news about finances. That’s why I was taking a boat from Philadelphia to Nova Scotia. I have bad news so they won’t pay for my ticket. They are trying to stall. He starts doodling what looks like a gray-haired mouse but then I realize that it’s actually a dog. Or a former president. I watch him for a while before this girl comes over and sits next to him. She introduces herself and I imagine them getting married and having kids that draw on important financial papers and take trips to nova scotia. Her shirt has words on it that I can’t make out so I move a little closer. It says: Maybe they’ll be happy. Underneath a picture of a girl standing on the bay as a ship sails away to somewhere. Maybe to Philadelphia.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Shenee: Welcome to the CCC. Super 1st submission. I really enjoyed your style. A couple of times you surprised me with a twist. I love when that happens. I like your style and I bet all the CCCrs will too.
      Everyone welcome Shenee to the addiction. We have challenges every Monday and Thursday so we’ll see you then. Overall, how was it for you?
      I’ll add your name and URL to our CCC Community Links page next.

      • Cathy Miller says:

        @Shenee-Welcome to CCC!

        Ship off your worries and put your financial earnings on hold. You have reached the CCC zone. It’s more contagious than bronchitis, you’ll soon find it’s an addiction you crave.

        Like a gray-haired mouse who lives to see another day, your written word takes on new life. Others might lurk and wonder what it’s all about. Maybe they’ll be happy on the outside, but we know the real joy is within.

        So, crank up the speaker on your inner muse and trot on over to CCC for skyscraper challenges from the online equivalent of Philadelphia brotherly love. Create the sensual, the funny, the daring and absurd. It’s all applauded here.

        Each week’s challenge guides you home like the warm, welcoming lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia.


        • KathleenL says:

          Shenee– Welcome to the CCC I shall warn you, I have found this to be a great and enjoyable addiction :0
          Great first entry. You made me smile and laugh after beginning to feel sorrow for the lonely. I look forward to more.

      • Shenee says:

        Thanks! I had fun! It was a good challenge. Its a good reminder. It’s like hey, I am pretty creative! haha, THANKS so much. Can’t wait to do the next one!

        • Shane Arthur says:

          @Shenee: I’ve read a bit of your site and from what I can see, you’d have fun just about anywhere with the positive attitude and smile you have. 🙂 #99 is already up so have at it.

    • Kelly says:

      Shenee–Great intro submission. Left me feeling kind of awww nostalgic. I especially loved what you did with “maybe they’ll be happy”!

  13. KathleenL says:

    When bubbles from the Champaign floated up — bumping into his snout — they tickled his nose. He wiggled it up and down, left and right which made him look like a gray-haired mouse of course the connection could have been easily made by any onlooker… with his beady close set eyes, his long rhioplasty needing tuberous, the gray facial hair hanging beneath it, and the like hued hair on his head that stood up on ends reaching for the stars and the walls.
    He thought he was the cat’s meow… and it gave him the confidence to wink at women. Although it came across awkwardly this was usually when he was trying to be sensual. Failure, pure failure; failure he was oblivious to.
    “He could take a ship to Nova Scotia and back for all I care,” she said through the speaker of her cell phone. “Or maybe he could jump off a Philadelphia skyscraper; without a parachute or bungee cord.  The bronchitis is his own fault!” she was spewing her words emphatically. “If he hadn’t been sneekin’ around … in the dead of winter … with that… that … other man playin’ post modern hunter … then we wouldn’t be in this state of financial ruin and he could afford to go to the doctor’s, get meds, whatever!” the snarl in her voice intrigued him.
    Hummm, some fool let her go. She’s fine as frog’s fur, he thought to himself.  It did not take him long to flag down some assistance. “Waiter, please get a second glass and take some of this Champers over to that fiery red head over there on her cell,” he said tilting his head in her direction.
    Maybe they will be happy together, but then again… maybe they won’t!” she said with much vigor that was soon replaced with a smile of satisfaction as the fluted glass with sparkling wheat colored liquid was placed in front of her. “Things may well be lookin’ up for me. Gotta go,” she said before wrapping her long fingers around the stem.

  14. More from Fairy Tale Land:
     I finally arrived at Cinderella’s Castle. In the dismal grey of the morning and in the wake of Sleeping Beauty’s murder, it didn’t look much like the iconic structure that people remembered. I thought it looked more like a skyscraper in Philadelphia.
    I knocked on the front door and waited. Eventually a Gray-haired mouse with bronchitis opened the door. She was a tiny thing, but seemed to be in charge of the staff at least. I had learned to never take anything for granted here in Fairy Tale Land.
    “Can I help you?” she squeaked. “Yes,” I began. “I am here on official business from the Lollipop Guild. I need to speak with Cinderella and or Prince Charming immediately.” Her face turned downright frosty at the mention of the guild. Some folk had come to regard us as Gestapo agents, but that wasn’t the case at all.
    The mouse spoke then, her tone about as sensual as a January morning in Nova Scotia. “They are not here, and you are not welcome here! Ship off!” She started to shut the door but my foot prevented its closing. Another tinny, electronic voice sounded froma hidden speaker in the wall. “Who is it Marymouse?” That was Cinderella. I was sure.
    “Lollipop Guild!” the mouse screamed. “I cant get rid of him!” The speaker chirped again. “Tell him I would be happy if he left.” This time I was sure that the Price was there as well I began to yell myself. “Maybe they’ll be happy if I get Scrooge McDuck over here for a financial audit of this place! The people should know how their royalty is screwing them over!”
    I’ll admit that was harsh, but the speaker chirped yet again. “Let him in Marymouse.” The voice said reluctantly. She stepped aside and I entered the castle.

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