Saturday, December 7, 2013


Greetings, readers and writers! And Happy New Year! May auld acquaintance be remembered and turned into great stories.
This week, as I do on each first Saturday of the month, I present 99-word stories sent to me by writers from all over. That includes you, I hope. All writers are welcome, and all submissions will be accepted (unless I find a story offensive, but I’m broad-minded.) There are a few rules to follow, and they’re presented at the end of this post.
This month’s theme is “The Gift,” and I urged contributors to include irony in their stories. I received three stories answering the challenge, and they’re presented below.

Because there are only three stories this month, I have some extra space to fill, and so I’m going to insert here a commercial!

Looking for an entertaining book to put on your New Year’s reading list? I not-so-humbly recommend Hooperman:A Bookstore Mystery. Yes, I wrote it, and yes, you’ll like it! Publishers Weekly says (in a starred review!): “Pleasant and unusually good-natured, this novel from Daniel harkens back to a time when printed books mattered.” For more information about Hooperman:A Bookstore Mystery, see

And now, as promised, here are three stories contributed by writers of the 99 Society.


by Jerry Giammatteo

It was our annual Holiday grab bag at the office. Three items remained when my name was picked. I selected the largest package and opened it.
I stared at it. What was it? It looked like an ugly bed quilt with a pocket. Obviously, a re-gift or something buried deep in someone’s closet.
“What is it?” somebody shouted out. I shrugged.
I brought it home. My wife asked what it was. I shrugged again
The ratty thing is long gone, but we found a use for it as a beach blanket. It was hideous, yet it served a purpose.


by Joseph M. Bonelli

Christmas Eve dinner was tradition at my paternal grandparent’s home.
Grandpa was thought to have more wealth than people knew.
He hinted about gifts to Dad, who alerted his three sons.
Mom said, “Don’t expect too much.”
After dinner Grandpa passed an envelope to each of us and wanted my father to open his first. A penny was taped inside Dad’s Christmas card.
I had two pennies; the middle grandchild had three, and the youngest, four cents.
My grandfather left the room and returned with a bowed hanger, bearing a new fur coat for Mom, his daughter-in-law.
“Merry Christmas.”


by Christine Viscuso

Dr. Berman removed his mask as he stepped from the operating theatre. “Detective. What are you doing here?”
“Waiting for you. How is he?”
“He’ll live.”
“It took you fifteen hours to save that crumb’s life. You gave him life for Christmas. He killed twenty-five kids, plus ten adults. He killed a cop before trying to end his miserable life. We’ll take it back; bet on it.”
The doctor shrugged. “It’s not for me to decide. I took an oath.”
“To you, making people whole is a challenge. Were you aware that your son died in that carnage?”


Attention all writers—
Next month’s prompt: “They’re Gone!” What do I mean by those two words? You tell me. No. You show me in a story. I insist that your story be fiction, and you show me that you have a wild imagination!

Here are the rules:

1. Your story must be 99 words long, exactly.
2. One story per writer, per month.
3. The story must be a story. That means it needs plot, characters, and conflict.
4. The deadline: the first of the month.
5. Email me your story (in the body of your email, or as a Word attachment) to:

One more request. This time, whether or not you send me a story, please send me one (1) word. Any word. I’m collecting words, your words, for next month’s assignment.


  1. As always, I enjoyed the 99 word stories you posted, John.
    You asked that we give you a word. My word is "mystery."

    1. Thanks, Pat. "Mystery" is a fine word, and I know how much it means to you!

  2. Glad to see Jerry, Joe and Chris on board here, John. I'll spread the word about Joy of Story in my newsletter later this month. I've been talking up Hooperman; hope it's wrapped up under lots of Christmas trees this year!My word: students.

  3. I have to admit I was stumped by the December challenge. Probably sugar plum fairies dancing in my head. Hopefully they will leave so that I can take on the new challenge. I see my instructor has signed in above me. Love that I have found this community. Thank you and best wishes for the holidays. My word: imagine.

  4. Thanks, Eileen, thanks Pat. "Students" and "Imagine" are great words.