Tuesday, January 10, 2017


John M. Daniel’s Blog
January 10, 2017

Note about our schedule: Because of important family business, I will be away from my office next weekend and the weekend following that. So I will not be posting on my blog January14th or 21st. Instead, I am posting the January 14th blog early, on Tuesday, January 10, and it will remain at the top of the blog until January 28, when I'll be back. This means the 99-word stories will be showcased for a long, happy stretch.


On this second post for the month of January 2017, I am presenting stories submitted by friends of The Joy of Story. The prompt I assigned was “I took a trip on a train.” I was inspired by an earworm that was haunting my brain at the time. (For those who don’t know, an earworm is a song that plays over and over in the Muzak of your mind, a snatch of a song you can’t get rid of.) The song was “I Thought About You,” with music by Jimmy Van Heusen and lyrics by Johnny Mercer. I like the song a lot, but I was getting sick of hearing it by the time it moved on, only to be replaced by another  earworm.

The first line of the song is “I took a trip on a train,” which makes it qualify as a train song. The singer/narrator is on a train, having left a loved one at home. There is a suggested element of regret that the lovers parted, and the outbound traveler has a strong wish to return and patch thing up. The story has conflict, choice, and change, not to mention scene and plot and characters. The plot is more hinted at than told, and the choice and change are forecasted not shown, but that’s okay. Call this minimalist fiction. By the way, other train songs from the Great American Songbook are “Sentimental Journey” and “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” Remarkably, these songs both tell a similar story, but in these stories the travelers have bought their tickets and are ready to board the train home.

Well, this week’s 99-ers took this reader for a number or train rides, and some describe good scenery and others have believable characters. Some of them, though, lack plot, conflict, choice, and change. I hope I’ll see more of these essentials in next month’s stories. The prompt for next month is “I can’t give you anything but love.” That should suggest some conflict, I think!
One of the stories this month stands out for having all the necessary ingredients of a good story. That one is “Round Trip,” by Marilyn London. This story has the same plot as “I Thought About You,” with an extra twist at the end. Good work, Marilyn!

 If you're unfamiliar with the 99-word story feature of this blog, see the information given below this month's stories, in the section titled Call for Submissions.


told in 99 words

by Marilyn London

We were arguing a lot. I needed to get away. I took a trip on a train.
It was fun to be alone, to enjoy the peace and quiet. The countryside was beautiful. I finished my book. The car was almost empty. There was no one to talk to.
Someone walked down the aisle checking the seats. That must be the conductor, I thought.
Without looking up, I asked, “What time is it? When will we be there?”
“Depends on where we’re going,” said a familiar voice. He took my hand, kissed me and sat down.
We went home. 

by Tom Donovan

I took a trip on a train with a youngster.
We were almost at Penn station so he was glued to the window. Five minutes from the station we would pass the alcoves, caves, and caverns.
Tracks led off into dark recesses where the people of the NYC underground lived. Sleeping bags, plastic, and paper remains of hastily prepared food.
The remnants of barely serviceable clothing drying wherever a bit of sunlight could find them.
At first he wondered, was this some sort of a Disney-like make-believe diorama?
 Later came an understanding that life takes different turns for everyone.

by Jerry Giammatteo

The Jungfrau railway headed up the Bernese Alps, framed in snow, and passed lovely little Alpine villages on its way. I marveled at the beauty.
We made a stop to admire a Volkswagen Beetle carved out of ice. Life was good for a twenty-three-year old.
As the train headed for the summit, I closed my eyes for a brief rest.
Then I felt a light tap on my arm and awakened to a Long Island Railroad conductor. She was saying, “All tickets, please?”
I then heard the announcement, “Train to Penn Station.” Damn. I was sixty-one and tired again.

by June Kosier

At thirteen, I took a trip on a train. A train unable, so far, to reach its destination. The train was called “Creativity.”
I boarded forty-three years ago, heading for a writing career. There were stops along the way. High school, college, a career in nursing, marriage, motherhood, grandparenting, cancer were the stops. I have enjoyed all these stations and each has taught me well.
I have paid the toll, but, now retired, I have decided to board the train again. Hopefully, this time there will be no stops and I will get to my desired destination, called “Published.”

by Cathy Mayrides

I don’t often take trains, but I remember a train trip to Washington, D.C. At the time, I was a teenager, and I dabbled in Tarot cards and Ouija boards. But my own metaphysical experiences were nil.
As we sped toward Union Station, I suddenly realized that I was speeding over tunnels and trees and could see the top of the train from this vantage point. I didn’t panic, but rather wondered in a dream state if I would be able to get back into the train.
I did. We arrived. Welcome to my first out of body experience.

by Christine Viscuso

“Where’ve you been, Brad? You haven’t been to work in days.”
“I took a trip on a train, Greg.”
“You’re an Uber driver; what’re you doing traveling the rails?”
 “I dropped off the most gorgeous, ethereal girl at the train four days ago. I wanted to know her better so I parked the car and hopped the train. Followed her to Manhattan and then to Amtrack; destination, Washington D.C.”
 “Ethereal, huh?”
 “A beauty. But I lost her. I tripped. Fell on my head as I got off the train. Ended up in a hospital.”
 “You’ve had some train trip!”
by D. F. Saunders

My flight arrived at Houston on time. I pushed up the aisle to deplane fast. I had to catch another flight, on a different airline.
I took a train from one airline to the other, boarded another airplane, and flew to DFW, where I took yet another train to catch my flight home, on yet another airline.
When my DFW train ride stopped at the end of the line, I found myself back in Houston Airport. I retraced my steps, and it happened again.
I said to a ticket agent, “I’m lost.”
She shrugged. “I know. We’re all lost.”

Note: The following story was inadvertently left out of last month’s harvest of 99-word stories, for which the prompt was “A fine romance this turned out to be.” With apologies to Diane Morelli, the author, I am presenting it here:

by Diane Morelli

Laura and Glen met in high school. They dated for six months before they got engaged.
Glen’s dad cautioned his son, “Take a good look at your future mother-in-law now; you’re looking at your wife in twenty years.”
Glen realized that his fiancée’s mom was unkempt, overbearing, and neurotic. Just like his mother. He ignored Dad’s warning and married Laura without reservation.
Twenty-five years passed. Laura and Glen were still together and seemed happy. Glen’s dad finally apologized for his unsolicited premarital advice.
“I should have been the one who took a good look at my mother-in-law,” said Laura.


Call for submissions: Your 99-Word Stories

The deadline for February’s 99-word story submissions is February  1, 2017. The stories will appear on my blog post for February 11, and will stay posted for a week.

note: this 99-word story feature is a game, not a contest. Obey the rules and I’ll include your story. I may edit the story to make it stronger, and it’s understood that you will submit to my editing willingly. That’s an unwritten rule.

Rules for the 99-word story feature are as follows:

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 (something or somebody has to change), characters, and conflict.
4. The story must be inspired by the prompt I assign.
5. The deadline: the first of the month. Stories will appear on this blog the second Saturday of the month.
6. I will copy edit the story. The author of the story retains all rights.
7. Email me your story (in the body of your email, or as a Word attachment) to: jmd@danielpublishing.com

THIS MONTH’S PROMPT FOR NEXT MONTH’S 99-WORD STORY: Write a story inspired by the following sentence (in honor of Valentine’s Day): I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.


Calling all published authors—

I try to feature a guest author the third Saturday (and week following) of each month. If you’re interested in posting an essay on my blog—it’s also a chance to promote a published book—email me directly at jmd@danielpublishing.com.


Thank you for visiting. Please drop by next week!


  1. John, these were great. Another year, huh!

  2. THanks, Augie. Yep, here we go for another year. 2016 was a tornado. I wonder what this next year will bring. More craziness? I hope not!