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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Home Group (11/29/07)

TITLE: Not In The Catalog
By Joanne Sher


"Oh, Madge, have I mentioned how marvelous you look in that scarf?" Harriet's eyes bulged and her mouth gaped open as her face stretched to twice its normal length. "Wherever did you get it?"

Madge tossed her head, tilting it ever-so-slightly to the left. "This? Oh, I picked it up at Saks the other day. Charming, isn't it?"

"Divine, Madge, divine. What I wouldn't give for your sense of style, your panache."

"It truly is a learned skill, dear Harriet." Madge raised her eyebrows. "I'd be thrilled to give you some pointers."

The ladies quieted down and shifted in their seats as their hostess, Amelia, tapped her water glass with a pen.

"Thanks so much for coming, ladies, and welcome to my home. Maybe we should start by introducing ourselves. Just share your name, perhaps a bit about your family, and why you've decided to come."

The ladies looked from person to person awkwardly.

"I guess I'll start." Amelia cleared her throat. "I'm Amelia Barson. My husband Greg is a deacon at church, and we have two boys, 8 and 12. I'm here to develop closer friendships with the women of the church, to grow closer to God, and, well, because I'm leading this group." She giggled at her joke, but stopped quickly when nobody else joined her.

Amelia tapped the woman to her right. "Why don't you go next, Janet?"

The mousy-haired lady, who appeared to be in her mid-20's, kept her head down. "I'm Jan Smith. I don't really have family or friends around here. That's basically why I came: I want to meet people."

Madge was sitting to Jan's right. "My turn, it seems. I'm Madge Steiner. Frank and I have been at First Community since we were married 40 years ago, and my Wednesday afternoon literary society was cancelled this week, so I needed something to keep me busy, and out of Frank's hair."

Harriet giggled, covering her mouth. She poked Madge in the side with her elbow.

Amelia pursed her lips. "So glad to have you here."

Six eyes focused on Harriet for a good 30 seconds.

"Oh - my turn, right?" Harriet blushed. "I'm Harriet, and I'm here for the throw pillows."

"Excuse me?" Amelia glanced at her guest as if she'd just stepped off a spaceship.

"The throw pillows. You know, the lacy ones on page 16 of the catalog. They would look perfect on my loveseat in the living room."

Madge turned toward Harriet. "Oh, darling, don't you think they're a bit too loud? I do believe the orange quilt I saw toward the front would look just right on that loveseat."

"Perhaps you're right." Harriet opened her handbag and pulled out a booklet. "Now, which one were you talking about?"

"Um, excuse me, ladies," Amelia offered shyly. "You do realize this is a home group, right?"

Harriet nodded vigorously. "I got your 'home show' invitation in the mail last week, and the catalog looked just lovely. I just had to come and buy some of those wonderful items." Harriet pulled out her checkbook and waved it about. "By the way, Andrea, where's the sales rep?"

"Harriet, I think there's been a mistake." Amelia stuttered. "Andrea Billon's home decorating party is next Thursday, I think. You must have, um, gotten the dates mixed up."

Harriet looked straight at Amelia, crestfallen. "You mean no throw pillows?"

"The quilt, Harriet, the quilt. Trust me," Madge insisted.

Amelia tittered. "I have neither, ladies. I do, however, have some fellowship, a bit of God's word, some prayer...oh, and cookies. That's what a home group is all about. I do hope you'll stay."

Madge and Harriet glanced at each other.

"Cookies, you say?" Madge licked her upper lip discreetly.

"It should be a lovely afternoon," Amelia encouraged.

"There is a sale at Saks that we're missing, you know," Harriet offered, picking up her handbag.

Madge glanced at Harriet discouragingly, causing her to put her purse back on the couch.

"Why don't we just stay, Harriet? We'll certainly shock our husbands." Madge rested her hand on Harriet's shoulder. "Have we ever gone out with the checkbook and not spent money?"

"Better yet," Harriet said, a gleam in her eye, "why don't we stop at Saks when this is over? That way we can get in our share of praying and paying."

Amelia smiled. "Wonderful. So glad you are joining us, ladies. Shall we get started?"

Amelia bowed her head.

"Sounds great," Harriet boomed. "So, where are the cookies?"

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This article has been read 1307 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Ann Renae Hair12/06/07
What a hoot!!! I'm guessing Amelia may need to take lessons from Mrs. Chillsome before this one is over...wish I could 'see' more! Great take on the topic...LOVE IT.
Patty Wysong12/06/07
Those ladies are great! Their personalities came through crystal clear--they had me chuckling and shaking my head. :-) Now, I seem to remember a Mrs. Chillsome from Somewhere...
janet rubin12/07/07
thanks for the giggles. glad I'M glad that home group isn't at MY house!
Sheri Gordon12/07/07
Funny ladies. The dialogue had me chuckling from the beginning.
LauraLee Shaw12/07/07
Incredible creativity and humor.
"I'm Harriet, and I'm here for the throw pillows."
I'll be using this line during my next introduction. TOO funny!
Karen Wilber12/07/07
Love how you released the humor mid-story...home group? home show! Oh no!! This was really funny.
Jacquelyn Horne12/09/07
This was certainly different. Entertaining. I expected a somber ending, but got humorous one instead. You Really needed more space here. Good job.
william price12/09/07
Great job, Jo-anne. Loved the dialogue and characterization. My fav things you know:)
Your story flowed well with good pace and you defined HOME GROUP. A very nice story. God bless.
william price12/09/07
Oh yes, my fav line: "Have we ever gone out with the checkbook and not spent money?"
God bless.
Jan Ackerson 12/09/07
So charming! Your writing just sings, and this begs to be produced as a little skit. So much personality in so few words! Excellent!
Laury Hubrich 12/09/07
Joanne, this was most excellent! It was very original, very clever:) Bravo!
Temple Miller12/09/07
I love your humor. Great characterizations. Plus, I like that Harriet didn't undergo a transformation - she remained clueless.
Verna Cole Mitchell 12/09/07
What a super piece for description, humor, characterization, and message. You did it, Girl.
Beth LaBuff 12/09/07
Ya gotta love the ladies! : especially Harriet with her "so where are the cookies" :) What a fun read.
Jan Ross12/09/07
Absolutely delightful! I can put faces with the names -- your descriptions are perfect and the personalities you built are so real. Ha! Good job -- I love it! :)
Catrina Bradley 12/10/07
An absolute delight. You have such a clever wit, and tons of creative ideas. The writing is masterful, as always. Congrats in advance; you've likely done it again! :) Love, Cat.
Lynda Lee Schab 12/10/07
LOL - this is great. Too bad the church "home group" people came across so prunish, meek and sour. I'd much rather hang out with Madge and Harriet! "Praying and paying..." love it!
Beckie Stewart12/11/07
This was so fun to read. I myself do not see any need for a "red pen", but I am still a beginner on all of this. I loved reading this. It had me captivated from beginning to end.
Patty Wysong12/11/07
I've read this several times now and I still chuckle over it. :-) RED PEN: The only thing I could see was the second sentence where you're describing Harriet's response to Madge's scarf. It felt a little over done, BUT when I read the rest of the story it completely fits her character. The first times I read it I have to admit to rolling my eyes--until I finished 'meeting' Harriet, then it fit. Other than that it's a red smiley face. I like it!! Hugs!
Yvonne Blake 12/11/07
RED PEN: Hmmm...it's missing something. There's no spark.
Maybe it's because there are too many characters to get to know.
Maybe you should have focused on only one and developed her more, entering into her thoughts.
Sara Harricharan 12/12/07
Lol! This was hilarious to read! I liked the set up and especially the misunderstanding of 'home group' My fave characters, were of course, Harriet and Madge, loved them!

RED PEN: I thought you over-used Amelia's name, because while I'm still following her dialouge, I'll find myself bumped over to the next paragraph where she's starting them all over again, maybe you don't necessarily have to tag everything to her, but use a few more references as thier 'host'? Just a thought! this was a fun read! ^_^
Paula Titus 12/13/07
This is so clever and humorous!! I couldn't find a 'red pen comment' if I wanted to. Fantastic writing.
Gerald Shuler 12/14/07
I would love to write with this kind of wit. This was a delight from start to finish.

Red Pen: I agree with an earlier comment about needing to focus on something that would give a spark. I was hoping it would be the shy girl who only came to meet people. She had my attention and I felt let down because she was basically ignored. That's just one person's opinion, of course.