Tag Archives: writing

Flash Fiction Friday

This week, the Random Word Generator gives me:

  • Orchestra
  • Cuff
  • Poverty
  • Sword
  • Joke

I’m using 130 words for this one. Here’s this week’s flash fiction:

“Jokes and counter-jokes—their verbal swordplay. Peter thought nothing of it. It was their way, how they talked to one another. Of course Joe didn’t mind. He always laughed—gave as good as he got.”

“So, could you tell me what happened?”

“We had just finished watching the State Orchestra. Came out the doors. Joe made some joke about Peter’s attire. Peter laughed at Joe’s cufflinks. And then…”

The detective tapped his pencil. “What then?”

“Well, I guess that was one joke too far.”

“Joe lost it?”

“No. You see, I gave Joe those cufflinks. We were poor. And a gift out of poverty is, well, special.”

“Wait. You’re telling me..?”

“Yes.” Emily took the bloody knife from her purse and laid it on the interrogation table. “I’d had enough.”

Have a wonderful warm weekend!

UPDATE: I have also posted a flash story for this week’s Flash! Friday. You can find that HERE.

Flash Fiction Friday

Time to turn on the Random Word Generator again! And this week we have…

  • Headline
  • Bible
  • Nun
  • War
  • Pudding

Oookay. And let’s go with a 100-word limit. Here’s what I come up with:

The photographs were detailed enough. Andrew’s face was easily recognizable. As was his half naked body, along with the blonde in the nun’s outfit. He could see the headlines.

“Does your wife know?” said Robert slipping a spoon into his mouth.

“No.” Andrew hadn’t touched his food. “What do you want?”

“Let’s not make war over this. Drop out of the race, Senator.”

Andrew sighed.

“The Bible says your sins will find you out.” Robert’s smug grin suddenly turned sour. He gripped his stomach.

“They certainly will, Robert,” said Andrew, tearing the photographs. “I hear the pudding’s to die for.”

Have a great weekend!

Bouchercon 2015

I’ve always had a soft spot for mysteries, detective fiction, and even suspense and thriller stories. If you’ve been paying attention to my flash fiction, you’ll notice they tend to have a bent in that direction. So how excited was I when I discovered that one of the premier mystery/detective fiction conferences, the Anthony Boucher Memorial World Mystery Convention (known as “Bouchercon”), was going to be in Raleigh, NC this year? I’ll tell you. VERY. You see, if you’ve read my “About” page, you will understand that I don’t get the opportunity to go to many writer/writing/book conferences. Most of them are priced outside my family’s budget, and then I have to consider the additional expense of transport and lodging. So why the excitement over Bouchercon? I’ll tell you:

  1. I live in NC.
  2. I live about 80 miles east of Raleigh, NC.
  3. I have family that live just outside Raleigh, NC.

It’s as if the conference organizers planned the event for my convenience! (They didn’t, by the way, just in case you wondered.)

So I get to go to a writing conference. But the awesome doesn’t stop there. Look at who some of the conference guests will be:

  • Kathy Reichs (creator of Temperance Brennan, AKA “Bones” of the book and TV series)
  • Tom Franklin (NYT Bestselling author of CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER)
  • Zoë Sharp (British author of the Charlie Fox series of novels)
  • Allan Guthrie (British crime writer and literary agent)

Also on the attendees list are:

  • Karin Slaughter
  • Donna Andrews
  • Charlaine Harris
  • Terrence McCauley

and New York Literary Agent Extraordinaire, Janet Reid.

And that’s only SOME of the names on the attendees list I recognize.

The event is from October 8-11, 2015, and registration costs $195. As I understand it, the main conference will be at the Sheraton Hotel on Salisbury Street. For all the details you could possibly want, check out the conference web site (http://www.bouchercon2015.org).

This will be my first writing/writer/book-related conference. Will I see you there?


The 2015 April A-to-Z Blogging Challenge

Despite all my writing plans and the general busyness of life, I am planning to participate once again in the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. This will be my fourth year, and for the second year in a row I’ll be writing 100 word flash fiction pieces for each day of the challenge. That’s 26 new stories in the space of a month. I managed it last year, and I’m quite pleased with how some of those stories turned out. If you go to the “Writing” tab and look under “Stories,” you’ll find my literary efforts from previous A-to-Z years. The first year I participated, I chose random topics. For the 2013 challenge, I wrote a short story every Monday. Last year was the first time I attempted a story every day.

Don’t know what the April A-to-Z Blogging Challenge is? It’s a blogging challenge (duh!) where participants blog every day (excluding Sundays) for the entire month of April. The “A-to-Z” part comes from the fact that each day’s theme is dictated by a letter of the alphabet, starting with A on April 1, and ending with Z on April 30. You can write on whatever you want, as long as it has something to do with the day’s letter. If you look at my previous attempts, you’ll get the idea.

Right now there are over 560 people signed up for the challenge, and I expect that number will double by April 1. So not only is this a great challenge, and a way to inspire your blog writing, but it’s a good way to get some broad exposure for your blog since all participants are encouraged to visit and comment on other A-to-Z bloggers’ blogs.

So, how about it? Are you up for a fun blogging challenge? The sign up Linky List is HERE. For more info about the challenge, see HERE.

Flash Fiction Friday

For today’s flash fiction challenge, I set myself a target of 200 words, and used a Random Word Generator to pull five words to use as part of the story. These are the words it chose:

  • feast
  • rubbish
  • wood
  • creeper
  • graffiti

Here’s my story (200 words exactly):

I made my way carefully to the bags that littered the ground, smiling inside. One man’s rubbish is another scavenger’s feast, after all. The thin white plastic tore easily under my fingers. Clothes. I pulled them out piece by piece, hoping to find something more substantial further in. Nothing but shirts and pants; stained, torn, patched, and worn.

The second bag yielded house trash; books— bent, creased, and mildewed; the cracked glass and splintered wood remnants of a coffee table; a crumpled McDonald’s bag; small paisley cushions, ripped open to expose yellow foam stuffing; chipped and faded ceramic ornaments of animals and people— a fox with a broken tail, a cat with one ear, an old man missing his walking stick.

Finally, I tried the armoire. It was stained, scratched with graffiti carvings, and now adorned with feather boas that hung like creepers over the sides and the unlatched doors. I gently pulled the doors open, trying not to get my hopes up. My heart sank to see empty shelves, save for a few moldy towels and moth-eaten head scarves.

I cursed the air as I walked away. That’s the last time I waste $1,000 on an abandoned storage unit.


Flash Fiction Friday

This week, I’m re-posting my entry for last Friday’s Flash! Friday contest. It didn’t win, and garnered only a couple of comments, but I liked it. So here it is!

The challenge: Write a piece of flash fiction (no more than 160 words) using this picture as inspiration:

My response (exactly 160 words):

The gentle hum of electricity seeped into Darren’s skin. His bones vibrated as every muscle, tendon, and nerve ending soaked up the waves of power from the box.

No-one else on the sidewalk could feel it. But Darren drunk it in like parched soil takes in water.

Three blocks ahead, stop lights flickered.

Two blocks behind, cars screeched to a halt as the lights suddenly flashed red. Darren heard the crunch of bumpers. He didn’t turn. He just smiled.

On the horizon he saw a plume of smoke. His fingers told him the stop lights had gone out completely on East Fifth.

Cars trundled to a stop on the street in front of him; drivers vented frustration with their horns.

Satisfied, Darren let go of the metal box. It would take about ten minutes for the electronics to right themselves. In the meantime, he could cross the road safely.

The same road that claimed his mother’s life a month ago.

Can I say a few words about rejection?

One of the biggest fears writers have to overcome is the fear of rejection. Indeed, fear of rejection is one of the biggest fears most people face in life, period, whether it’s rejection by publishers, agents, peers, a love interest, a prospective employer, and so on. For writers, this fear can be particularly debilitating since writers write to be read. As much satisfaction as the writer derives from putting words on a page, that joy is made complete knowing someone else is getting pleasure from his or her work. But this will never happen until the writer actually publishes his or her work in some way (online or in print). That means the writer must risk rejection. Bad reviews. People not liking his/her work. And one of the pitfalls of working in the Arts is that there will be people who don’t like your work. In fact, there will be people who hate your work. That’s not a possibility. That’s a guarantee. Just examine yourself. Do you like every form of music? Every band/artist you’ve ever heard? Every novel you’ve ever read? Every picture or movie you’ve ever seen? No. Some you love, some you like, some you’re dispassionate about, some you don’t like, and some you can’t stand. The power of Art is that it stirs emotions and evokes passion. That can be both a positive and negative thing, and Art doesn’t discriminate. It allows for both positive and negative reactions.

So rejection isn’t something a writer needs to avoid. It’s something a writer needs to learn to deal with. And you do that by sucking up your pride and letting people read your work. Such online flash fiction contests as Flash! Friday, or Janet Reid’s contests (like the one she announced today), are a good way to do that. Because the work is judged by people, they are subject to the whims of the judges. If you write sci-fi and the judges don’t like sci-fi, the chances are you won’t win. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enter. There may well be a number of people reading the entries that do like sci-fi, and appreciate your work. Hopefully they’ll write you some encouraging comments. But ultimately, you will learn from the discipline of writing flash fiction, and you will become more comfortable with putting your writing in the hands of strangers.

I’ve entered the Flash! Fiction contest a few times now, and haven’t even been selected for a runner up category. While I’ve been a finalist or winner in Janet’s contests a few times, there are many I’ve entered where my entry didn’t even get a “special mention.” That’s okay. The writing practice, the experience gained, and the skin-thickening that results is almost as good as winning. Almost.

Thoughts or comments–about the story, and/or rejection?

Flash Fiction Friday: Walk the Plank!

The YA Buccaneers are running an end-of-year “Walk the Plank” challenge. The rules require participants to compose a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long and starting with the phrase, “It was a great year, but I wish I’d…” Extra kudos to those who use exactly 200 words.

So here’s my piece for the challenge, and because I like the uber-challenge (and the kudos), it’s exactly 200 words long:

The Letter

It was a great year, but I wish I’d read Warrini’s letter.

It came with the usual New Year’s Eve Christmas cards and bills. As I walked back from the mailbox, I glanced at the red “Urgent! Open Immediately” printed on the white envelope, and stuck it at the back of the pile. It ended up on the coffee table, next to the TV remote, which I picked up and proceeded to watch a Downton Abbey marathon.

I moved it to the mantle when I went to bed that night, intending to read it in the morning. But I woke to a call saying I’d won the New Year’s Lottery. $10,000. Then there was the party, and the cruise.

It was April when I noticed the envelope again. Right before I got the call about my promotion, and the five weeks of training in the Bahamas.

I nearly opened it when I returned, but Julie called wanting to get back together.

Now it’s New Year’s Eve again. I finally read that letter this morning:

“Call me tomorrow or 2014 will be your last year.”

It was Warrini who cancelled my flight to New York on 9/11. I suddenly feel sick.


There’s still time to join in the challenge if you want–but only just! Check out the YA Buccaneers blog for details.

Flash Fiction Friday: Deja-vu!

Today, I’m participating in the Déjà vu Blogfest hosted by D. L. Hammons. The purpose of this blogfest is to give exposure to blog articles we’ve written over the past year that we were particularly pleased with, or that didn’t seem to get as much attention as we think they deserve. Each participant re-posts their favorite blog today, and everyone on the Linky List (see D. L.’s blog) hops around visiting these masterpieces. It’s a good way to get to know other bloggers, and to give neglected posts some attention.

Regulars to my blog will know that I was particularly pleased with the flash fiction stories I posted for April’s A-to-Z Challenge. Since it’s Flash Fiction Friday, it seems only right that I re-post my favorite of these. But since it’s only 100 words long, I’ll post two of them.

Here’s my favorite of the stories (or pieces, since they’re not all strictly-speaking “stories”), originally posted April 19:


Dear Ms. Price:

Angela was a hard-nosed literary agent with a flair for snark, and a rejection count as large as the national debt. Then she received the query she couldn’t turn down. The email threatened her life if she didn’t say yes, and the sender had attached the 150,000 word manuscript. There was no name at the bottom, just the signature, “I know where you live.”

TWO DAYS TO LIVE tells the story of Angela’s search for the writer who would try to kill her—and probably will. The 150,000 word manuscript is attached.

I know where you live.


And as a bonus, here’s a rare piece of poetry from me (I don’t do poetry, as a rule). Originally posted April 8:


Grasping hands and guiltless joy, gurgles and grins.

Sparkling eyes and a line of drool.

Is he happy to see me, or does he need to be changed?

Without words,

these innocent gestures are so vague.

If only he could talk,

tell me what he wants,

tell me how he feels,

that he wants me here,

that he needs me.

that he loves me.


All I have are these grasping hands, these gurgles and gummy grins.

A reminder of how I used to be

many years ago.

An echo of what I might become

a few short years from now.

 If you enjoyed these, you can find all my other A-to-Z flash stories under “April 2014” in the Archives on the right, or you can download them as a pdf document HERE.

Now, go visit some other Déjà-vu bloggers!

What’s Up Wednesday Christmas Edition

I’m calling this the Christmas edition since it’s probably the last WUW I’ll be participating in this side of Christmas. Unless something happens worthy of a WUW post next week. But I’m not anticipating that, so let’s stick with the plan and see what happens. What’s Up Wednesday is a blog meme devised by sisters Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk as a way for writer friends to keep in touch. Want to be a part of the fun? Visit their blogs to find out how, and visit other participants on their Linky Lists.

What I’m Reading

I’m currently reading RUNNER by Patrick Lee. It’s a thriller featuring ex-Special Forces Sam Dryden who, while out for a night-time run, comes across a twelve-year old girl who is also running–for her life. He rescues her from her pursuers, but it appears there’s a whole organization hunting her down. Dryden takes her under his wing and risks his own life protecting her while they find out more about the people chasing after her, and about the special ability she acquired while she was being held by them…

This is a fast-paced novel, and the story gets more and more interesting the deeper you go. I’m enjoying it. Definitely R-rated for occasional profanity and sexual situations, though Lee tries not to be salacious in his descriptions, giving just enough information for you to get the idea what’s happening.

What I’m Writing

Aside from the flash fiction (see the previous four Fridays), not much. And that’s okay. This break is helpful.

I have to include a writing goal now? Hmmm… I had an idea for another short story I’ve been kicking around. Maybe I’ll set myself the goal of actually making some notes on it, develop the idea a bit more on paper. See if it could work. Not too ambitious, I know, but I’m supposed to be taking a break.

What Works for Me

Being my own writer. What do I mean by that? I think those of us who write and are seeking publication often look to published writers, and those working in publishing, for guidance on how to be a writer. And what we hear are things like, “You need to write at least 1,000 words a day,” or “If you’re not writing daily you’re not a writer,” or “If you can do something else, do it, because the writer’s life isn’t for wusses.” And there’s some truth to all of these. But we can get hung up thinking that if we don’t live up to this standard in some way, we’re failing.

The thing is there are as many different types of writer as there are writers. And some of those comments mean more to some people than others. If you’re young, and looking to writing as your sole means of making a living, then you probably need to listen to the voices in the previous paragraph. Those who are older, and perhaps have families and good jobs, however, will want different things out of their writing career. It may be a secondary income source, or something they would like to see happen but are fine if they remain unpublished. That doesn’t mean they’re not as dedicated to their writing, or they won’t be as prolific. It just means they go at their own pace, and have a different perspective on the whole life-work-writing balance. I’m definitely in that latter category. I have a good job and a large family. I don’t need to be published to earn a living, though the secondary income would be helpful. I enjoy writing, and get a deep sense of satisfaction when I write a good story. It’s certainly something I’d enjoy spending more time doing–even perhaps doing full-time. I plan to write another novel, and more after that. And hopefully an agent will take an interest, and I’ll become a published author. But my life is already rich and full and enjoyable, so it’s not something I need in that sense.

What Else Is New

Christmas! My favorite time of year. I love the whole atmosphere of Christmas–the music, the decorations, the shorter days, the colder weather, that sense of reflection, nostalgia, and appreciation for life, friends, and family. And, of course, the food! And while Christmas itself isn’t new, every year is a new Christmas. My oldest daughter turned 21 on Monday, so it’s the first year she’ll be able to enjoy an adult beverage if she so chooses. It’ll be my sister-in-law’s first Christmas at their new house, and we’ll be there to celebrate with them. It’s also Sam the Cat’s first Christmas with us–possibly his first Christmas period.

Speaking of Sam, here he is with his preciousssss:


Have a wonderful Christmas, everyone!

Flash Fiction Friday

The next installment of our flash-serialized story (word count: 224):


I had misgivings about Anan’s assassination, and I wanted to know why she was so dangerous. But I was hardly going to launch a vendetta against my employer for killing a seemingly harmless young woman. Even though they forced me to jump a chasm in full winter gear and left me to die on an ice ridge when I failed to carry out the mission. I would do the same for them in a heartbeat.

That’s the code I gave my signature to.

I was about to ask my kidnapper what mutual vengeance he had in mind, when there was a loud bang. The helicopter shook as if hit by a giant baseball bat. The lights flickered. There was Arabic shouting and the pounding of boots on the metal floor. I tried to sit up to get a better view of what was happening when there was another hit.

“We’re under attack,” the young man said coming over to me and helping me up. “We need to move you somewhere safer—”

Then another jolt slammed me and my captor onto the opposite side of the helicopter. My ears were ringing; I could feel darkness encroaching on my vision.

Just before I passed out for the third time in two hours, I had the distinct impression that we were falling from the sky…

… and that’s where I’m going to leave this story. It seems a bit mean, but the plot is developing in a way that deserves more thought. Perhaps I’ll end up writing the novel. If so, consider this an extended teaser. I’ll be sure to let you know if that ever happens.

Next week, I’ll be participating in D. L. Hammons’ Deja-Vu Blog Fest, where we re-post a favorite blog article from this year. Since this will be on Flash Fiction Friday, I’ll choose a couple of my favorite flash stories from this year.