The Importance of Tigers, Camp NaNo April 2016

Hello. This is why I haven’t done much blogging in the month of April. I try for a post every week, but I almost didn’t get one up last week because of this:
So back in the middle of March, one of my writing friends emailed me and asked if I was going to do Camp NaNo with her again this year. I’d done the July session with her cabin last year and enjoyed it – I really liked being able to set my own word count goals, and my understanding of the November NaNoWriMo session is that you’re locked in to the 50,000. (If that’s not correct, someone tell me, please.)
I decided that yes, I would do it again this year and do another short story. Enter Nathan. 
Nathan is probably the most difficult character I’ve written in a while, and mostly because he is so young and helpless. He’s a very broken kid but he wants to trust people, he wants to be loved and protected and helped. He wants that so badly… and until he meets Sabrina Anderson and her mixed-up family, he never gets any of it. I found it difficult to write, and I’m not entirely sure where the whole idea came from. 

I’m not going to share much because this is a very, very rough draft, and it needs to just sit for a while and simmer on a back burner in my head. But here is my favorite quote from the story:
“All of my children have taught me something. Abbi first taught me how to be a mother. Theo taught me that sometimes your own worst enemy is yourself. Vivi taught me how to see beauty in broken things. Sonya taught me that being wild is okay. Jason taught me that sometimes being angry is a good thing. And Nathan… Nathan taught me the importance of tigers.”

‘The Importance of Tigers’ – pencil and Sharpie sketch, ALT
Also, I got sick in the middle of the month and didn’t touch my stories for a week. I got bored of watching Gilligan’s Island one afternoon and decided to draw something instead, and came out with this beastie. I am absurdly pleased with my tiger, especially since I was so stuffy and fuzzy in my head at the time. I like to sit and stare at my tiger. I find it quite mesmerizing and I’m not entirely sure why, just that I’m weird. 

Anyway, I wrote my 12,000 words that I wanted to write for the month, and I am shifting back to editing and revising my Spinner of Secrets, draft seven. I’ll probably be talking about that this next month or two, so if you’re in conversation with me and I suddenly yell something about Aleya and Kyle, and violently scribble things on a sticky note, please just quietly roll your eyes and wait until I finished scribbling before you continue talking.

Copyright 2016 by Annie Louise Twitchell
Artwork Copyright 2016 by Annie Louise Twitchell

Stories for Elli, Part Two

This was another 300 word prompt. I have fun with them, although it’s kind of hard to take one idea and have it stay small. It’s a good writing exercise. 

Running through the forest on my way home, I found a pair of dragons engaged in battle. Beasts of legend, we had always been taught that light ones were good and black ones were evil. I had no reason to mistrust this teaching, until the light dragon sought to seize me and use me as weaponry against the black dragon. The black dragon and his rider strengthened their attack and soon beat the light dragon and her rider back into the forest.
I started to run in the opposite direction, but the black dragon caught me and folded me up in gentle wings. His rider dismounted and came to fuss over me. I cowered away from the man’s figure, covered in black robes, and he laughed softly. His laugh was the gentlest, kindest sound I had ever heard and I stopped struggling in order to listen. He put a hand on my forehead.
“Do not be afraid of the night, child. Many good things are concealed under her mantle. Evil is not bound to light or darkness, but passes freely between the lines and masquerades as any number of good things. Learn to sense the evil for itself, and trust the darkness.”

Copyright 2016 by Annie Louise Twitchell

Mister President, Sir

I don’t remember what I was doing when I thought of this. Probably making grilled cheese. Grilled cheese is good for ideas sometimes. So is chicken soup. Or cheesecake. Now I’m hungry.

Dear Mister President Sir,

My name is Jacob and I am 7 years old. I am writing to you because my best friend Wallace says that you’re not a real person like my daddy, you’re a superhero like Superman or Batman. I say that you’re a real person like my daddy so I’m writing this letter to ask you who is right. I hope I am right because if I’m not than I have to get Wallace an ice cream and I would rather eat the ice cream myself.

Also, Mister President Sir, I’m sorry if I didn’t get enough Sirs after your name. I wasn’t sure how many I needed because I’ve never written to a President before, except the President of my sister’s drama club because he says that she isn’t good enough to be in his play and I know he’s wrong because she does plays for me at home and they’re almost as good as a movie. Is it true that there’s a movie theater inside the White House? If there is you should turn off the TV and have my sister put on a play for you. I think you’d like it almost as much as a movie, and then maybe her drama club President would let her be in his play.

Please ignore the drool on the paper, my dog Nick drools over everything I do.

Thank you Mister President Sir,
Jacob age 7

Here’s the link to the story on Fifteen Minutes of Fiction:

Mister President Sir

Copyright 2016 by Annie Louise Twitchell
Originally posted on Fifteen Minutes of Fiction

Remembering Apple Blossoms

I wrote this for the Homeshcoolers of Maine Short Story Contest 2015. It was part of my senior year writing project. I won first place for my age range (14-17) and had it published in the e-magazine in October. HOME Digest Fall 2015
It was a bit of a challenge, actually, because the word limit I was working with was 1,500 max. At the time I was not used to writing small pieces and it was an interesting stretch of my writing skills. A review reader told me that she was having a hard time placing the time period – the story was modern but the words I was using to describe it were 19th century. I was reading Jane Austen and other similar authors at the time, but I also use those words in my conversation. It was helpful feedback to add to my files, so now I triple-check my dialogue because some characters just don’t talk in that manner even if I do.
Remembering Apple Blossoms
Annie Louise Twitchell

I’d met Abigail at a women’s tea party. She was a quiet, sweet young woman, a year or so younger than my twenty-two years but with an air of a woman rather older. She was there with her stepsister Lillian, and the two of them seemed inseparable.

I’d gone to visit her a week later and she was lying in the orchard, while the apple blossoms drifted down onto her auburn hair and green dress. A young man was sitting beside her, reading aloud from a worn, blue book. He rested it on his knee as I approached, and looked faintly indignant at the intrusion. Abigail sat up and he reached out a hand to steady her. Her face broke into a cheery smile and she waved me over.

“Hello, Mia. What brings you out here?”

“Your stepfather said you were out here. I came to visit, but you already have company. I’ll come back later?”

She glanced at the young man with an odd twinkle in her eye. “If you can call him company. No, sweetie, stay. We don’t mind, do we, Nathan?”

Nathan smiled faintly. “If you want her, I am perfectly happy to share you with her.” There was sadness in his eyes as he rose and spread out the blanket, to make room for me.

Abigail waved me down next to her and Nathan began to read again. It was from a book of Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tales, which I was familiar with, but I had never met such a good reader as Nathan. After several stories he stopped and laid the book aside. Without a word he gathered Abigail up and carried her towards the house.

I hastily followed, wondering the whole time what the problem was. He kicked open the kitchen door and laid her on a couch that sprawled against one wall in that spacious room. He disappeared through one of four doorways, and I sat on the floor to look at Abigail. Her smile as her eyes met mine was much weaker than the first, and she coughed slightly.

Nathan rushed back into the room, followed closely by Laurel, another stepsister, and Lillian. Nathan beckoned me away and these two girls began fussing over Abigail. Nathan’s hand rested on my shoulder, and each time Abigail coughed it tightened, until I was afraid I would have a bruise.

Finally Lillian stepped back, her shoulders trembling, and wiped sweat from her forehead. Nathan looked at her desperately, and she nodded slightly. He relaxed and patted my shoulder, then went to Abigail’s side and kissed her gently. She smiled up at him and brushed a tear from his cheek, then lay back and closed her eyes.

Laurel took my hand and pulled me into the living room, poured me a glass of water from a pitcher, and sat beside me on the sofa.

“I am sorry about that. It must be rather distressing to you, since you don’t know what’s happening. Would you like me to tell you?”

I nodded, sipping my water.

“Abigail is going to die soon. We found out a month ago, and the doctors said without treatment she’d live for maybe six weeks. If she took treatment than she may live for six months, but she wouldn’t be cured. She decided not to take treatment, as that would make her feel ill and miserable for most of the six months and it wouldn’t save her anyway. She’s not in pain, except for these spells she has every so often, and she decided she would rather be happy and at home for the few weeks she has.”

I nodded again, feeling some of the pain that decision must have made for her family. “Who’s Nathan?”

Laurel shook her head sadly. “He’s Abigail’s husband. The baby’s upstairs.”

I choked. “She’s married? She has a baby? And she still refused treatment? How heartless of her!”

Laurel flared up in a passionate fury. “She’s not heartless! She’s trying her best to make the memories of her last few weeks happy ones for Nathan and Natalie. How would it be if Nathan remembered her last six months as a miserable cycle of hospitals runs and drugs? At least this way he’ll remember her smile, because she’s not drugged up so much that she can’t see him. And the baby will have many pictures of her mama holding her, awake and smiling, instead of lying in bed all the time looking ghastly. You don’t understand. Please, go.”

I rose and left. I turned back to look at the house as I latched the garden gate, and saw Nathan standing on the porch cradling a small form in his arms. Laurel was watching me depart from the window. I shook my head and started home.


Nathan phoned the next day, saying that Abigail wanted to see me. I quickly got out my bike and rode to their house.

Abigail was in her bedroom upstairs, looking pale and drawn. Laurel was viciously knitting in a corner, and rocking a cradle with her foot. A large vase of apple blossoms sat on the open window ledge, and the sweet scent wafted through the room.

“Hello, Mia. I’m sorry about yesterday. I wanted you to read to me, if you don’t mind.” She waved at a green paperback sitting on the bedside table.

I cast a look at Laurel as I reached for the book. Abigail followed my gaze. “Laurel forgets sometimes that just because she’s hurting, that doesn’t mean that everyone else is. I’m sorry, although I’m glad you know. That makes it easier.”

I opened it and began reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I read two chapters, then Nathan came in. He sat on the bed beside Abigail and cradled her in his arms. Laurel picked up the baby and brought her to them, then left the room. I rose to leave also, but Nathan shook his head.

“Please don’t go, Mia. Keep reading.”

It never occurred to me to disobey his request, given the way it was. I resumed reading. Four chapters later, Natalie began wailing. I looked up and saw Nathan’s shoulder heaving as he held tightly to Abigail. I hurried to the bed. Abigail’s eyes were closed, and a light smile rested on her face. I could tell there was no breath in her body, even without Nathan’s grief evidencing it.

I lifted Natalie and held her tiny body close to my heart. Lillian entered the room and froze, then fell in a heap on the floor. Laurel followed and sank into a chair.


I laid the spray of apple blossoms on the grave and went back to Nathan. He took Natalie from me and bounced her on one knee, gently, absently. I knew he was thinking of the night a week past.
We sat in deep silence for a long time, until the sun crept down behind the mountains and the gray misty twilight lay in a blanket over the cemetery. Nathan sighed.

“It was like this the first time I met Abbi. She was dancing in the twilight, and she seemed to be wrapped in it. Then I knew, I just knew, that I would marry her. Twilight was always her favorite time of day. It seemed to belong to her and her alone.”

“When was that?”

“I was sixteen, she was twelve. The funny thing about Abigail is she lived her whole life in twilight. She always seemed older than she really was, and she always had a touch of other about her, like she was just here for a visit and if the twilight was right she would drift off to some other world. She always seemed closer to the angels than anyone else, too. She’d talk to them all the time, same as she’d talk to God, or to you and me. She’d tell them how her garden was growing, or about the baby kicking her that day. Later, when she knew, she’d ask all of them to protect me and Nat, after… After she was gone. Sometimes in the twilight I can feel them around the places she used to be. And you probably think I’m completely loony.”

“Not completely, no. If it was anyone I might think so, but not when it was Abigail. Somehow you can believe anything when it was related to Abigail. And you’re right, twilight was Abigail’s time. I think I will keep that picture just for her.”

“What picture?”

“The night she died I went out to the garden. I stood in the garden and I could see a huge, ancient apple tree, away up on a hill, covered in blossoms, all alone in the twilight. Somehow that made me think of Abigail.”

Nathan nodded. “Sometimes you wish that you knew how something was going to work out, how the pieces would fall into place, but I wonder if it would hurt more if we did know.”
~~The End~~

Copyright 2015 by Annie Louise Twitchell
Revised 2016 by Annie Louise Twitchell
First Published by HOME

Stories For Elli, Part One

I like to tell Elli stories. She’s a good listener. She likes to be talked to. 
This was a story prompt on one of my writing groups – write a short scene (less than 300 words) about the picture below, dialogue optional. I tried to find a link to the original artist but we’ll have to settle with the vague blurred web address on the bottom right hand corner because searching the image on Google resulted in two story prompt collections and at least eight Pinterest boards. 
I would have blinked in surprise, had I still possessed my human eyes with proper lids to blink with. Instead I stared up through the murky water. I was certain that I had heard someone rowing a boat across the surface of my lake. I rose from my watery bed amongst the grasses at the bottom and drifted to the surface.
There was a boat, drawn up among the reeds. I could see the shadows of two people in it, but when they heard me break the surface of the water, they darted and hid behind it.
Help me! I screamed in my head, but all that came out of my mouth was an unintelligent roar.
No wonder they fled, like everyone else. No wonder there was no rest for me, trapped in foreign flesh, dying for human companionship. I was now as much of a monster on the outside as I had always been on the inside.

Copyright 2016 by Annie Louise Twitchell

Image Credit to Artist

Annie Lou, Artist

Those who’ve known me for a while know that I am an artist. I create stuff out of other stuff and occasionally out of nothing at all, but that’s a lot more work. I adore words and have a passion for them, but I also love working with other forms of art. Like dancing or swordfighting or painting.

I’ve always loved to draw and paint, and I even have a few pieces of which I am extraordinarily proud. 
Smaug, one of my favourite dragons.

This is the dragon I sketched while I was supposed to be working on math competition work. And Daddy dear, before you get indignant that I wasn’t paying attention to you, please observe that the above drawing is almost entirely lines. That style of drawing helps me concentrate, just like knitting helps me listen better. I was listening most attentively. I promise.

Bag End.
Gosh, you might think that I like Tolkien, too. Hint: I do.

It was a fundraiser for our local (hehe, it’s Western Maine – I do not think that mean what you think it means) hospital. We were doing art classes based on the works of Rudyard Kipling. This is my painting of The Cat Who Walked By Himself. It sold for over a hundred dollars at auction which made ten-year-old me very, very, very excited.

I got bored of writing one day, a while ago. I’d been typing for a while and my eyes were starting to ache from staring at the screen for so long. I’d dreamed about painting with watercolors just before I woke up that morning, so I decided to do some. I found some envelopes and set about painting them with no particular intent, pattern, or design, just what happened to show up. Hint: that’s the way I do a lot of things.

I proceeded quite merrily with brother #5 watching me intently from the other side of the table and running a commentary on how lovely they were and what was I going to do with them?
Huh. Do with them? You mean I have to do something besides have them in my letter box to be pretty and make me smile?
I guess I have some letters to write, since I kind of intended to mail the envelopes. I’m not a big fan of mailing empty envelopes, and these ones are too small to put cookies in. Sorry, folks.

So anyway, I do lots of other stuff besides writing, when the mood strikes. Every so often it strikes violently and I am left breathless, staring at a piece of paper in bewilderment.

Copyright 2016 by Annie Louise Twitchell

A Promise Rose (WIP) and Love Lines

I don’t like talking about my work in person. My family knows this. I stutter and stammer and get red-faced (more than my usual rosy hue, that is) and completely forget about the thousand words I just finished writing thirty-five seconds ago. That being said, I have talked with TWO people in my household (okay so the second one isn’t technically in my household but he was at the house chopping veggies for soup so that’s close enough) about my stories in the past week. TWO people. I feel like I ought to get a medal or something because I actually talked for a good long time without wanting to go hide under a mountain.

Anyway, I’m in a couple forum groups online, and I have been sharing snippets of this story with them for several months now, since I started writing the first draft. They loved it, which was a bit mind-boggling. That’s mostly why I’ve stuck with it as long as I have, because they’re so excited for me to finish the foolish thing so they can read it. Yay for cheerleaders and supporters! Also because I don’t really have a choice because the story gets upset if I leave it alone too long and that’s never very fun.

So here’s the working cover for A Promise Rose, the story of Ethan and Sophie.

Here are a couple more quotes from the story:
This story has been interesting to write because stuff keeps happening and takes me all unawares. The above line is a prime example. I had many tears to shed over that scene. It hurt in places I didn’t know could hurt.
I got Picasa Photo Editor last week… I’ve been having entirely too much fun…

Copyright 2016 by Annie Louise Twitchell

Image Credit: Unknown

A Master Passes

One winter, two or three years ago, I came down with a cold. It wasn’t a bad cold, you know, just the kind that makes you want to lie in bed all day and not move. So that’s what I did. And while I was doing that, I read. And that, my dears, is how I read all eight Harry Potter books by the fabulous J.K. Rowling in two weeks.

I have no idea who took this photo, but thank you, unknown camera-wielding person.

I really, really loved Professor Snape in the Harry Potter movies. The mental image I had constructed in the first few books didn’t work by the time I reached the end of the series (somewhere around day 9 3/4), and when I watched the movies several months later, something clicked. Oh, of course that’s Professor Snape. It all just made sense.

Then, this past summer when I was housesitting for friends, I watched Sense and Sensibility. I’d listened to the book off Librivox (which is incredible and if you haven’t heard of it, go check it out: and I knew how the story went – but Alan Rickman’s potrayal of Colonel Brandon was breath-taking. There was so much heart in it, so much passion and feeling. It was hugely relieving to come to the end of the movie and feel so satisfied. He got rewarded for what he had laboured so hard for. It was… awe-inspiring.

I don’t feel like my poem has encompassed all that I wanted it to, but I haven’t been able to figure out how else to express what I’m trying to say. So here it is:

A Master Passes
Annie Louise Twitchell
A master of acting,
he stained my mind
with vivid pictures that
are hard to brush away.
He brought the words
to life like so many others
before, but he used his
own special way with them.
So much heart in his works,
and richness, depth.
I’ll not forget them soon.
He had a wide touch,
a deep influence.
He has left an expansive
sadness in his wake.
But his stories are there,
a breath away, to be touched
and remembered and felt
all over again.
Rest well, Mister Rickman.
Thank you for all the stories.

Copyright 2016 by Annie Louise Twitchell


In October 2015 I had my first piece of writing formally published by the Homeschoolers of Maine (HOME) e-magazine. The piece, entitled ‘Remembering Apple Blossoms’, won first prize in HOME’s short story contest 2015, with the contest theme ‘Remembrance’.

Here’s what some people have said about ‘Remembering Apple Blossoms’:

My cover art, photo credit to… me. 

  • Oh my goodness, I almost cried when I read your story. And I’m not a crier. Fantastic work!!! 

  • Aww, sad ending, but I love it!!

  • What a great story! It made me cry (which admittedly isn’t hard). The last line reminds me of a quote – “The veil that hides the face of futurity is woven by the hand of mercy”(And I love the image of “furiously knitting”)

  • I just read your story. Great job! I loved the imagery, especially the use of twilight. Such a sweet story! 

Copyright 2015 by Annie Louise Twitchell