Writing Group: For Home and Hearth (PRIVATE)

Hello, Patriarchs and Matriarchs!

Family is really important, isn’t it? I know some people don’t get along with their blood relatives well, but family is more than just those related by blood. We can build families too. Say, I think it’s time we know what you would do for your family, because…

This week’s Writing Group prompt is:

For Home and Hearth

RULES AND GUIDELINES BELOW!
Make sure you scroll down and read them if you haven’t! You may not be eligible if you don’t!

Ah, a prompt perfect for the holidays! Nothing like being home with loved ones, cozying up next to the fireplace with cocoa in hand and love in the air.

While that is certainly one way to write about this prompt, there’s more to it than that.

The phrase “home and hearth” refers to warmth, security, and family, the “hearth” part specifically referring to a fireplace and the area around it. The hearth is associated with home and family because, throughout history, it was the main source of heat in the home, and was also where the cooking was done. This could be explored in lots of different ways. For example, perhaps you choose to write about a parent that has to regularly go out hunting to provide food for their spouse and children, as they live in a small, isolated log cabin in the middle of the woods. Maybe you decide to join the loud and ebullient laughter echoing from the mead hall, the villagers all gathered together to share in a warm feast, strong drink, and merry bliss. Perhaps you join a family that, even with today’s technology of stoves, has a yuletide tradition of cooking in their fireplace, of bringing their family all around this central source of warmth and light.

Another way to look at this is to see what one would do for the notion of family and home. Perhaps a small village is plagued by some beast in the woods, and to protect their home, the fathers all band together to hunt whatever creature is terrorizing they’re normally happy and joyous little hamlet. Maybe a wandering stranger stumbles across a rundown, abandoned cabin, and decides to fix it up to settle down and give themselves a place to call home at last. Or maybe it’s as simple as a family just gathering for Christmas dinner, everyone pitching in for their annual potluck. 

Whatever the case may be, the warm fuzzies will be bountiful with this prompt for sure! 

So settle by the fire, get your warm beverage of choice, and bring us together with your stories.

—Shawna

Remember, this is part of our weekly Writing Group stream! Submit a little piece following the rules and guidelines below, and there’s a chance your entry will be read live on stream! In addition, we’ll discuss it for a minute and give you some feedback.

Tune into the stream this Saturday at 3:00pm CST to see if you made the cut!

The whole purpose of this is to show off the creativity of the community, while also helping each other to become better writers. Lean into that spirit! Get ready not just to share what you’ve got, but to give back to the other writers here as well.

Rules and Guidelines

We read at least four stories during each stream, two of which come from the public post, and two of which come from the much smaller private post. Submissions are randomly selected by a bot, but likes on your post will improve your chances of selection, so be sure to share your submission on social media!

  1. Text and Formatting

    1. English only.
    2. Prose only, no poetry or lyrics.
    3. Use proper spelling, grammar, and syntax.
    4. Your piece must be between 250-350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
    5. Use two paragraph breaks between each paragraph so that they have a proper space between them (press “enter” or “return” twice).
    6. Include a submission title and an author name (doesn’t have to be your real name). Do not include any additional symbols or flourishes in this part of your submission. Format them exactly as you see in this example, or your submission may not be eligible: Example Submission.
    7. No additional text styling (such as italics or bold text). Do not use asterisks, hyphens, or any other symbol to indicate whether text should be bold, italic, or styled in any other way. CAPS are okay, though.
  2. What to Submit

    1. Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
    2. Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
    3. Write something brand new; no re-submitting past entries or pieces written for other purposes
    4. No fan fiction whatsoever. Take inspiration from whatever you’d like, but be transformative and creative with it. By submitting, you also agree that your piece does not infringe on any existing copyrights or trademarks, and you have full license to use it.
    5. Submissions must be self-contained (everything essential to understanding the piece is contained within the context of the piece itself—no mandatory reading outside the piece required. e.g., if you want to write two different pieces in the same setting or larger narrative, you cannot rely on information from one piece to fill in for the other—they must both give that context independently).
  3. Submission Rules

    1. One submission per participant.
    2. Submit your entry in a comment on this post.
    3. Submissions close at 12:00pm CST each Friday.
    4. You must like and leave a review on two other submissions to be eligible. Your reviews must be at least 50 words long, and must be left directly on the submission you are reviewing, not on another comment. If you’re submitting to the private post, feel free to leave these reviews on either the private or the public post. The two submissions you like need not be the same as the submissions you review.
    5. Be constructive and uplifting. These submissions are not for a professional market, and shouldn’t be treated as such. We do this, first and foremost, for the joy of the craft. Help other writers to feel like their work is valuable, and be considerate and gentle with critique when you offer it. Authors who leave particularly abrasive or disheartening remarks on this post will be disqualified from selection for readings.
    6. Use the same e-mail for your posts, reviews, and likes, or you may be rendered ineligible (you may change your username or author name between posts without problem, however).
    7. You may submit to either or both the public/private groups if you have access, but if you decide to submit to both, only the private group submission will be eligible.
    8. Understand that by submitting here, you are giving us permission to read your submission aloud live on stream and upload public, archived recordings of said stream to our social media platforms. You will always be credited, but only by the author name you supply as per these rules. No other links or attributions are guaranteed.

Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.

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WolfsbaneX
WolfsbaneX
9 months ago

“Guardian of the Homestead”
By Hemming Sebastian Bane

The small hut was abuzz. Blue ethereal flame danced through the air in small orbs. The smell of pig flesh, rice wine and soy sauce pervaded the air. The dog with no name knew he couldn’t intrude on the festivities. If he just laid here, maybe they’d reward him with some bones or maybe even some meat. The dog with no name licked his chops and wagged his tail.

The youngest boy was the first to exit the house. The dog with no name sat up and panted. The boy smiled at the dog before grabbing his net and heading towards the river. The dog stood and yipped, following the boy.

“No, boy. I’m going fishing. Stay here and watch the house.”

The dog’s tail stopped wagging, drooping between his legs. He walked back over to his spot and flopped onto his belly. An hour passed and the middle girl came out. The dog with no name again stood and wagged his tail.

“No, boy. I’m going hunting. Stay here and watch the house.”

The dog returned to his spot as before: with his tail between his legs. Another hour passed and the eldest son came out. Yet again, the dog with no name jumped up and wagged his tail.

“No, boy. I’m going foraging. Stay here and watch the house.”

The dog flopped down back at his place near the door. Some hours passed and it began to get dark. The mother came out of the house, but the dog did not stand. The older woman looked around before looking down at him.

“Hello, boy. Do you know where my children are?”

The dog lifted himself a bit, wagged his tail and barked in affirmation.

“Well, go gather them! I’m just about done with our meal.”

The dog jumped up and barked. Within the hour, the dog had collected the youngest boy, the middle daughter and the eldest son. One by one, they entered the house and the dog sat at his usual spot. The mother chuckled to herself.

“Come in, boy. Don’t sit there alone. You’re family, too.”

Last edited 9 months ago by WolfsbaneX
jesse fisher
jesse fisher
9 months ago

New Home for an old friend
by Jesse Fisher

“I’ve got to say that seems like a strange ride.” A brescian blue wolf commented to a similar navy blue one.

“You have no idea.” The navy wolf replied, raising a glass of red liquid. “Now I’ve got two kids and a wife.”

The bar around the wolves seemed to fade away into the background. The noise of the place just was a dull buzz as the two kept talking.

“Sounds like a nice life.” The brescian wolf just kept his amber drink on the bar.

The navy wolf noticed the tone in his companion’s voice. With an annoyed grumble he gave an observation to this.

“So what’s going on with you?”

The brescian’s eyes moved down to the floor before just sighing.

“I think I’m one of those that got all the bad endings.” His brow heavy and near cyan eyes told it’s tale. “I’m the last one of that universe, not too dissimilar to your start here.”

The navy’s yellow eyes dilated before he placed a claw on his brighter brethren.

“So another lost one like I was, and still am.”

“You got to wonder how many of us are there? The failures that end up finding each other to just hold each other until the end.” The bar seemed to come back in to focus as a voice caused the navy one to search it out.

“So how would you like to meet my wife, she might get a hoot out of meeting my ‘cousin’.”

“That might be nice, granted I think Bell might get confused.”

The navy one waved it off.

“Given this place it won’t be too out of the ordinary.”

Glaceon373
Glaceon373
9 months ago

Never Going Back
by Carrie (Glaceon373)

“Look, Mommy!” Zoe rolled a wooden steam engine across the toy train tracks, “the twain is gonna run over the pwincess!”

“Oh my,” Lydia responded, “does the princess die?”

“No! Because this pwincess,” she grabbed another doll, “saves her! Boom! Pow!” With the new doll in hand, Zoe smacked the train off the tracks, laughing joyfully.

Lydia couldn’t help but laugh along.

The doorbell chimed, echoing across the house. “Stay here, sweetie. Mommy’s gonna check the door,” Lydia kissed her forehead before descending the stairs.

She opened the front door, gasped, then slammed it shut.

A few seconds later, the doorbell chimed again. Lydia grabbed the dust-covered polka dot umbrella from the coat rack by the door, then cracked the door open.

“Why are you here?” she growled.

“Why do you sound so angry, Lydia?” The visitor leaned to the side so a single glowing eye shined through the crack in the door. “Do you not miss me?”

“I don’t care what you want, the answer is no.”

“You don’t even want to talk?”

“Don’t lie to me. Your stupid dream dimension needs saving again, doesn’t it?”

“Stupid? But it’s your birthright to rule—”

“I don’t care!” Lydia threw the door open and thrust the umbrella forward. The part of it that crossed the threshold lost its polka-dot disguise, revealing the true form of Shadowpiercer, the legendary sword. “I don’t care what you want, I don’t care if everyone in your stupid dream kingdom thinks I’m some queen, I’m not going back there!”

The visitor did not flinch at the blade pointed at their face. The glowing eye blinked, shining from beneath a hooded cloak that only stood two feet tall. After a few seconds, they asked, “Why?”

“Because I grew up, Trizz. I’m not a kid anymore.” She lowered the blade, its disguise reforming. “And that’s that.”

Trizz stayed for a few more moments before disintegrating in the breeze.

Lydia closed the door, replaced the umbrella, and headed back upstairs. Zoe’s dolls were now fighting an army of trains, accompanied by loud sound effects.

Lydia watched her, eyes watering.

Lunabear
Lunabear
9 months ago

By Wind and Shadow
by Lunabear

Lady Lunaria paces her throne room, hands clasped viciously behind her back and brow knotted in consternation. Her periwinkle gown whispers quietly behind her.

The knights of her court have proven to be no match for the approaching adversaries.

She prays her Stardust Messagers reach their destinations to swiftly provide aid. If the summons are accepted, that is.

An open window ushers in a heavy gale, his howl preceding him.

Lunaria’s pale, featureless eyes roam over him. “Wolfwind,” she coos.
She presents him with a small bow.

From bended knee, he rises. Mischief illuminates his twilight gaze, his ice blue hair constantly shifting.

“Majesty.” One quick kiss falls upon Lunaria’s covered knuckles. Wolfwind appraises her with lowered lids and a crooked smile.

“By the Nightshade,” a rusted, crackling voice chides, “MUST you come to heel so quickly for her? At least ATTEMPT to resist.”

Wolfwind’s shadow descends the wall tapestry. It writhes until it assumes the shape of a man.

Droplets of velvet ink fall to the floor and coalesce beneath it. A crated smile burrows its way into the shapeless face. Hollow eye sockets assess the two, its head dipping in their direction.

“Deviance. I haven’t seen you in ages,” Lunaria recounts.

“Ah, but I’ve watched you, My Lady. There are many lovely corners to hide away in.” Deviance stands like a phantom beside the lupine.

A tick in Wolfwind’s jaw is the lone sign of displeasure at the Shroud’s nearness.

“The Moonlight Realm is not as protected as it once was. Sunracers approach from the east; Lighteaters from the south.”

“That’s a bloodbath in the making,” Wolfwind rumbles.

“How many allies are present?” Deviance inquires, curling loosely then straightening.

Lunaria’s knuckles pass across her forehead frantically. “You two for now. I fear my reach is nearing its limits.”

“How long until the enemy’s arrival?” The two speak as one.

“Approximately a fortnight.” Lunaria’s mouth wrinkles in distaste.

Deviance gives an acceding laugh.

Speckles bleed into Wolfwind’s solemn eyes. “You have my services, Majesty.”

Relief weighs down Lunaria’s shoulders. “Very well. We have much to prepare.”

Last edited 9 months ago by Lunabear
ThatWeirdFish
ThatWeirdFish
9 months ago

The Last Soldier (Tales from Alsuria)
By ThatWeirdFish

Benjamin shuffled awkwardly away from his unit’s bonfire as their beer made their boasting louder. He didn’t need to know how many women they had bedded… As he made his way back up the beach, he noticed the one they called the “Red Vet” sitting by himself next to a small fire. Curiosity drew the cadet closer to the copper-skinned alien.

“Hey… uh… okay if I join you?” Benjamin said, fiddling with his rifle’s strap.

Though his golden eyes were neutral as they locked onto Benjamin’s, the veteran nodded.

“Thanks, the gossip was getting to me.” Benjamin sat down on the stump across from him and set his rifle across his knees. “So… where are you from?”

The veteran said nothing as his tail flicked in the beach grass.

“Ah… do you speak common?”

Silence.

“But you understand it, right?” Benjamin cleared his throat as the veteran narrowed his eyes. “O-obviously… sorry…” His fingers drummed on his rifle barrel as he tried to come up with some way to recover from that.

The veteran’s gaze shifted from the young man to the fire between them. He then broke a nearby branch and added it to the fire. The bawdy cheering from Benjamin’s unit drowned out the popping of fresh sparks.

“I joined because my twin brother signed up,” Benjamin started after the silence became unbearable. “We were always trying to outdo each other. I bet he’s jealous that I got a planetside assignment. Why are you here?”

After studying Benjamin’s eyes for a moment, the veteran pulled out a notebook and pen from his pocket. He then wrote something down, tore out the page, and handed it to the young man. Benjamin was surprised to find it written in perfect common:

War destroyed my people and land. I fight so that others may not find the same fate.

“That’s very noble and… I’m sorry,” Benjamin dropped his gaze to the fire. “I… always wondered why you were the only one….”

The veteran shrugged with a hint of a sad smile.

i-prefer-the-term-antihero
i-prefer-the-term-antihero
9 months ago

[Removed]

Last edited 8 months ago by i-prefer-the-term-antihero
Gerrit
Gerrit
9 months ago

Finding Home
by Gerrit(Rattus)

Reds and oranges streaked across the sky, staining the surface of the distant ocean. The tiled roof was rough beneath Emrys, his legs dangling off the edge. Serennia sat next to him, and the two looked out over the scattered mess of buildings.

“I remember this bread being better.” She tore another piece off her half of the loaf with her teeth.

“Probably because we were so starved back then, everything tasted like luxury.” He thought back to the time, nearly four years ago, when they had split a loaf of bread on this same rooftop.

Emrys continued gazing out at the houses and storefronts strewn about haphazardly wherever they would fit. “Imagine living in a place like that.” Emrys pointed to the rows of houses built on stilts along the shoreline. “Do you think you could do it?”

“I don’t think I could live in this city at all, let alone in a shack within flood range.” She chuckled — a sweet, melodic sound. “If I had a choice, I’d want to live in some quiet, out of the way village. Somewhere people wouldn’t bother me.”

“As someone who grew up in one of those villages, I’m not sure it’s everything it’s made out to be. In those kinds of places, everyone knows everyone else’s business.”

“Where would you want to live?” Serennia looked up to him, her opalescent eyes shimmering in the setting sun, the last vestiges of daytime catching in her raven hair.

Emrys sat for a moment, wondering for the first time where he might like to call home. “Never really thought about it. Part of me would like to go back to where I grew up, I think. But I suppose I could be happy anywhere, given the right company.”

A half-mouth grin betrayed the meaning behind his words. She settled in next to him, her head resting against his shoulder. His hand found a place in the curve of her waist, pulling her tight against him.

He had already found home, and it was wherever she was.

Calliope Rannis
Calliope Rannis
9 months ago

The End Of A Long Day (Nyssa’s Story)
By Calliope Rannis

As the sun began to set upon a golden horizon, a small house awoke to the tinkling clatter of familiar keys, and the pleasant creak of an opening door.

Gently closing the door behind her, Nyssa bustled into the living room, halting only to take off her boots and outer robes. Then she moved towards the fireplace, fluttering her fingers as she muttered an incantation, and fire sprouted from the woodpile, filling the room with a welcoming light.

Finally, she turned and collapsed backwards into a nearby cushioned chair, breathing a sigh of much-needed relief.

It had been a Day. She kinda knew it was going to be a tiring one when she had discovered multiple people at the crack of dawn, looking for her help…the last night had been a Snowtide celebration, so there had been loads of people with injuries at the hospital from drunken escapades…and then there was that horrid wagon crash in the afternoon-

Nyssa exhaled, feeling the warmth of the fire on her skin, wriggling deep into her chair. She let her hair down, allowing her white-grey curls to wash past her shoulders.

It had been a hard day, yes. But far, far from her worst.

She remembered when a mimic had almost torn her arm off.

She remembered when Alex had risen from the depths of their moonlit ship, all fur and fangs and burning wolfish eyes.

She remembered the Archdevil’s flaming whip, moments before it tore through flesh and bone.

She remembered face after face, body after body, being burned, shattered or even disintegrated by the sheer power of her magic-

Nyssa shuddered, hugging herself tight.

But then she looked away from her past. She remembered her day again – a day where people had come for her help, and she helped! A day where she had treated dozens of wounds and injuries, healed so many people that her magic was as exhausted as her body was.

She remembered their smiles, their thank-you’s, sometimes even hugs or gifts.

She remembered her day, and she smiled, her heart as warm as the fire before her.

Constella
Constella
9 months ago

“To a Place of Belonging”
By Constellasphere

Train 865; she’d been on this train before.

It’s worn seats in much need of replacing and the creaky sounds it made as it began to move made her anxious before, but now they made her feel bitter.

Emily shivered as the chill of the passenger car sank into her bones, biting at her through the poor excuse of a coat she was sent off with. But she went forward, her satchel bumping against her hip as she gazed over the seats.

There was only one other passenger with her this time, an older woman dressed in a wine red coat. Her eyes remained on the window, watching as the world passed by in a blur.

The young girl took a few more steps and sat adjacent to the woman, getting close to the window despite the drafts. If she froze here, on her way to yet another orphanage that would neglect her, she was sure no one would bat an eye. And so, the girl let her auburn hair fall over her face, and she closed her eyes.

It was a sudden rise in the temperature of the car that made her look up once more. Instead of the shabby train she had boarded, it was now lavish with plush seats and a luxuriously spacious interior. There was a fireplace that somehow burned despite the obvious physical laws that were being broken, and a coffee table with sweets and foods she couldn’t begin to name at the lady’s convenience. Even a chandelier hung from the ceiling, topping off a setting Emily could only dreamed of.
Her amber eyes were wide with amazement before falling on the lady, who was chuckling under her breath and holding an elaborate tea cup.

“I don’t normally do this in front of others. They oughta treat you children better.” The warmth that seemed to radiate from the woman was something Emily hadn’t experienced in God knows how long, and she couldn’t help the tears that came from her eyes.

“Please, sit beside the hearth. You look cold as ice.”

RVMPLSTLTSKN
RVMPLSTLTSKN
9 months ago

Home
By RVMPLSTLTSKN (The Saga of The Deep One’s Wake)

The temple is not cold, neither is the city, but Vienas can’t feel that far. The floor and walls are sticky with damp in places and temperate. An earthy scent permeates. She could smell the changing of seasons in the places where building met earth.

Since giving up her sight, she is more aware of her surroundings. The smells of vermin and food, sounds in the night and day, the feeling of the air, its humidity and storminess. She knew they lived in what was once, not so long ago, a kitchen. She had some memories of working here, a punishment and very formative experience. She couldn’t cook then and was made to clean. She couldn’t cook now and was unable to truly clean. She swept mostly, her soles mired in grit and pebbles until she had moved the broom enough to clear the floor. She almost had a technique now.

She wondered, reflecting on the memories she had of this place, her reason to stay, what Padas had done to resist the ascendant god. She knew her reasons, her duty to the temple and city, to her god. Would she have gone if she had known they all would?

She grew pensive while she swept slower and slower.

Was he simply stubborn, this quiet man from the sea? Did he have a family he stayed for? Did he simply not hear the call; was he protected by his god in a way she hadn’t been?

There was more to him than he showed. A depth to the careful, studious gaze. She had seen it once, unaware it would become her most precious memory. His low-caste red bronze skin and mop of hair. The way he looked around before stepping forward, cunning and blunt. The kindness and fear in his gaze. The way he held that divine sword, like he hated it but needed it. Not a god, especially not a war god, but just a quiet man doing the things that needed doing.

For his family? For home? Would he tell her, if she asked.