Friday Five: Michael Saad @MSaad_Writer

friday fiveToday’s Friday Five focus is Michael Saad, author of crime and sci-fi short stories, novellas, novels, and history articles.

Michael Saad is a full time teacher who, when not lesson planning or marking, squeezes in fictional writing to keep him from hounding government officials on education, the economy, and the environment. He is happily married to his wife Jodi, and together they have two wonderful children. They reside in Alberta, Canada where Mike escapes to the Provincial Parks for seclusion from his frequent disillusionment with international politics. Mike’s works have appeared in several magazines. His novel, All the Devils Are Here, is on sale now and his newest novella, Let There Be Night, has just been released.

All the Devils Are Here is about two brothers who grew up in a household rife with drugs and violence. One brother escapes the cycle, the other doesn’t, but both are brought together later in life when each realizes their parents’ drug legacies don’t just end with time.

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Michael Saad1. What author has influenced your writing style/subject the most and why?

I would say Stephen King. I was reading Stephen King novels far younger than I perhaps should have. It didn’t warp me too much, but his work resonated with me, and still does to this day. If anything, I relate more to him today than I ever did. He was a former teacher, I am a current teacher, so I understood his struggles early in his career trying to be a full time teacher and a full time writer. Fortunately for him, and for us, his fans, he was able to be successful enough as a writer to write full time.

2. If you could pick just one book to read for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

Tough question. Christopher Lee said he read Lord of the Rings every year, and picked up something new from it every time he read it. It took me two decades (and more importantly three movies) to finally get through those books, but I suspect, like Saruman himself, I would probably find something new in them every time I re-read them. That or A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, which I never, ever get sick of…

3. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had and why? What was the best thing about that job and why?

Picking garbage in a city-garbage dump (I know it sounds like an oxymoron). The worst part of it was cleaning out the mass bins, where people throw everything from diapers, to compostable materials, to – well – everything under the sun. The worst material to clean up was old, wet, decaying grass – the smell of that was worse than any diaper. The best thing about that job was that it taught me almost instantaneously that that was not a career I wanted to have any time soon.

4. Why should people read YOUR stuff? Who’s your target audience and why?

My writing is grounded in the larger, societal issues of today. My target audience is myself first and foremost, and that is who I write for. If I don’t like what I’m doing, and no longer see any value in it, then I stop, because I wouldn’t expect anyone else to see meaning in it either. That is what I would tell anyone pursuing a craft, hobby, or vocation, regardless of what it is – do it for yourself first (you’re the one who has to live with yourself until the end of your days, after all), and then decide if you want to share it with the rest of the world. If you do, awesome and thank-you for doing so! If not, well, that’s fine too. It’s your life, and your contentment meter that you’re ultimately gauging, so if you’re happy with your decision, more power to you.

5. Where do your inspiration and ideas for your stories come from?

As the old saying goes, truth is stranger than fiction. Sometimes my stories come right out of the news, usually those stories where I think, “how on earth could that have possibly have happened?!”

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All the Devils Are Here is currently available through Amazon.

Become a Friday Five author or read previous author interviews.

Media Monday: When the love dies

DesolationThe book: Desolation (Mythical Madness Book 1) by A.R. DeClerck

The music: “Dying” by Hole

What happens when you’re the goddess of love, but you just ain’t feelin’ it? Why, send a half-god werewolf to save you!

Desolation is more than that, though. It’s a paranormal romance (fantasy romance?) about Vinnie, the goddess of love whose job it is to help mortals fall in love. But years on the job have taken their toll, and she’s come down with desolation – a terminal illness that causes gods and goddesses to wither away. The catch here, however, is that if she dies, love dies too.

Her sister calls on the Fates’ assassin, Gage, to save her. But in doing so, he has to face an enemy and past he’d rather forget about – the king who made him the half-werewolf he is today.

Although DeClerck says she writes “adventure romance,” there’s more to this story than just sexy people falling for each other and fighting bad guys. She addresses sacrifice (for family, for duty, for love) as well as the fundamental nature of love – is it purely chemical/biological, and even if that’s just a component, what does that mean for a relationship? Is there even a relationship?

Overall, it’s a good story (although I personally would’ve cut out the last few pages to play up the themes I mention above, but I guess that’s why I don’t write romance!)

The accompanying song, “Dying,” fits with the scene I would’ve ended the book with – the idea that love (personified, in this case) is dying. And it’s gonna fight, but sometimes that’s not enough.

As a bonus, Desolation is currently free on Amazon this week! Make sure to grab a copy, and then let me know in the comments whether you agree with my song choice.

Tuesday Tournament – Which Shia LaBeouf video is the best/weirdest?

I like to do a lot of “this vs that” with my clients, and so I thought maybe I’d extend it here to my blog too.

I’ll admit – Shia LaBeouf is not my favorite actor. The Transformer movies are stupid, and I haven’t been impressed by anything I’ve seen him in. Also, his last name sounds like “the beef” in French (le boeuf).

But when it comes to amusement on the internet, few people can surpass Shia. And with that in mind, today I’m introducing a segment I’m calling Tournament Tuesday, where my readers can vote on which thing is the best/worst/weirdest/whateverest.

Today’s topic:

Which Shia TheBeef video is the best?

(Feel free to define best any way you want.)

We have three contenders this week:

  • Songified JUST DO IT!!!!!
  • The cannibal song by Rob Cantor
  • Sia’s “Electric Heart”

Song 1: “JUST DO IT!!!” ft. Shia LaBeouf – Songify This

So, a few years back, Shia went off on a motivational rant as part of a film student project, resulting in such useful (?) videos of this one below, which was turned into a song by the talented folks at Songify This.

Song 2: “Shia LaBeouf” by Rob Cantor

Based entirely on no facts or context whatsoever, singer/comedian Rob Cantor wrote a song about Shia LaBeouf the cannibal. And then he got a bunch of choirs and dance troupes to help him perform it live.

Song #3: “Elastic Heart” by Sia

We know by now that Sia is kinda weird, but this video is out there, even for her.

So, readers, which video is the best?

This poll is closed! Poll activity:
Start date 08-08-2017 22:22:29
End date 28-08-2017 23:59:59
Poll Results:
Which Shia LaBeouf video is the best?

In addition to voting in the poll, if you leave a comment below explaining your choice, I’ll randomly pick one reader to receive a free copy of my upcoming ebook, “Spice Pirates.”

How to use writing to process your experiences

sad faceLast month, I was invited to give a short presentation at a writing conference for social workers. I’d previously done a panel on using writing as therapy, and my research interest is the effects of trauma on students, so this was my topic this time:

Writing can be a form of self-care for human service workers working with clients who have experienced trauma. Explore ways to process secondary trauma through writing, as well as how to balance accurately telling clients’ story while respecting their confidentiality and dignity.

Because participants said they found my presentation helpful, I thought I’d share it here too.

Therapeutic Sentences: Processing Through Writing

“A thing may happen and be a total lie; another thing may not happen and be truer than the truth.”
– Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

This quote strongly reflects the approach I take to writing. Many of my stories are based on composites of people I’ve worked with across my various education, criminal justice, and social work jobs, and while they’re not exactly true, their themes and messages seem to resonate with readers who’ve experienced similar situations. At the same time, however, as I write about the trauma my clients have experienced, I need to be careful to protect their identities as well as minimize the secondary trauma I might experience while writing about what they’ve gone through.

What is trauma?

SAMHSA (the national Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) defines trauma by the three E’s:

Individual trauma results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.

This is similar to a story arc – a character experiences an event, and how that character deals with the effects of that event (either short-term or long-term) makes up the rest of the story.

That said, there are six types of trauma, and which type is used can lead to different types of stories:

  • Acute trauma results from exposure to a single traumatic event (eg, a hurricane, an armed robbery by a stranger)
  • Chronic trauma results from extended exposure to traumatic situations (eg, growing up in chronic poverty, experiencing chronic hunger, the whole plot of Room)
  • Complex trauma is “the experience of multiple, chronic and prolonged, developmentally adverse traumatic events, most often of an interpersonal nature…and early life onset” (eg, abuse by a parent)
  • Identity trauma (historic or collective trauma) which is the result of traumatic events that affect an entire group (eg, the Holocaust for Jewish people, pretty much the entire history of Native Americans since Columbus)
  • Continuous or ongoing traumatic stress (CST) occurs “in contexts in which danger and threat are largely faceless and unpredictable, yet pervasive and substantive” (eg, the abuse or trauma right now, with no possible end in sight)
  • Secondary traumatic stress is due to vicariously experiencing trauma through the primary victim’s descriptions of the traumatic event or experience (eg, hearing a client describe his or her traumatic experiences)

Writing as a means of processing trauma

For me (ie, someone who hasn’t experienced much trauma but works with clients who have), writing is a way for me to put into words what my clients have experienced, when they don’t have that chance themselves. It’s about making these “salt of the earth people,” as a reader once described them, real so that people can understand them as people and not caricatures. It’s about highlighting a problem so that others can identify with it.

But this is just me, as a social worker/teacher/advocate. I surveyed a writers’ group about how they use writing to process trauma, and here’s what they said:

Roleplay what could have happened

  • “I’ve taken real events and environments that happened to me as a child, placed a character in those events, and tried to make it so that she doesn’t come out completely screwed up.  I’ve tried to give her the allies she needs, the character traits she needs, and the merciful intervention she needs so as not to end up homeless and in a mental institution by age 21.  I’m finding the experience extremely satisfying.  It’s like going back in time and giving my young self a second chance.”
  • “I turned to writing as a means of trying to process some of the actions and reactions of people, creating truly fictitious characters with created reasons that would lead to the same kind of outcomes as I experienced as sort of a roleplay on what might have caused what I experienced.”
  • “To sort those feelings, I wrote a very short fictional story about a character in my situation magnified. I gave her a back story worse than my own, raised the stakes, and put her though hell…. But writing about it in a fictional setting gave me the freedom to untangle those emotions from a safe distance.”
  • “Fictionalizing real events gave me control over how I see them, how they play out, and what the result is going to be. I don’t have control over what happened, but I can change the what-happened-next.”
  • “Sometimes, I get a kind of fictional revenge on people and situations that have been less than helpful to me, when I would never seek revenge in real life.”

Coping with death

  • “I turned back to writing after a family friend died from cancer last November. I found it was a way to process my emotions after I had to be ‘the strong one’/ referee at the hospital the night he died.”
  • “A close friend committed suicide a few years ago, and he keeps finding his way into my short stories/flash fiction. Often they’re not directly about him, but more about grief/coping with loss, and I keep finding myself writing his personality, looks and characteristics into my characters. I think it’s an unconscious attempt to both to process his death and to keep his memory alive.”

Coping with general emotions

  • “When I experience something traumatic or emotionally draining, I find it much less overwhelming if I am writing.”
  • “A lot of writers have personal issues – Stephen King, to name but one, was a long-term alcoholic. If you read The Shining, you’ll see the story of a man tormented by his demons and slowly falling apart. But what makes a writer good, and readable, is the ability to harness personal emotions and turn them into something bigger, more creative and more ‘universal.'”
  • “I came to realize the whole book was about mourning my childhood.  Each of the characters who deal with emotional wounds could be me, but especially the main character whose story arcs across the book.”
  • “The feelings attached to my problems, some of the thoughts and very few aspects flow in my WIPs.”

Broader social issues

  • “I have at times used fiction to process my personal issues with things like cultural identity and patriotism. But these are broad concepts, not specific incidents or people in my life. I could explore these issues easily enough while writing fantasy.”

How to write about trauma (yours or others’) ethically

When telling a story that’s based in truth, whether it’s your story or one that you’re telling on behalf of others, there are ethical considerations to take into account. First off, how will others react if they’re portrayed as the villain, or if you change the story to make it “better” but make them come across worse? What about potential legal ramifications?

The authors I surveyed also shared their tips for writing a story based on trauma, without causing problems for others.

Change names or traits

  • “All you have to do is change gender, race, and/or age. writing about your female cousin? turn it into an octogenarian black man…. Funny side note: after my first steamy novel came out, several men from my past came forward to claim the MMC was based on them. no one has yet claimed to be the overbearing sister, the philandering ex, the pervy boss, etc…”
  • “I keep getting so much feedback about how “one note” one of my “villain” characters is, and so I’ve had to really stretch my empathy to find ways to make her more human. So…maybe my mother WON’T recognize herself by the times it’s through lol. Or she’ll be a more likable character and it won’t matter.”
  • “The people and the events get scrambled in my fiction. What happened to someone unrelated and younger than me happens to an older family member of my main character.”

Use bits and pieces of real people

  • “Use real people but swap their stories, or spread theirs out to others, a piece here a piece there, the real barista gets a part of the real bartender gets a part of construction worker.”

Focus on emotions and themes

  • “The core of the story is real but the specific events were fictionalized. It focuses on how I processed my own feelings at the time, that was the important part I needed to get out. Specific events didn’t matter, only that they engendered the same emotions I felt.”
  • “But there in that imaginary world, there are many of the issues that plague us today. Racism, sexism, religious extremism and bigotry, even some environmentalism and conservation issues are there. It isn’t ‘in your face’ but it is there. I don’t preach, nor do I really provide much in the way of ‘answers’ for all those ills. I just plant the questions and hope readers are prompted to think for themselves. I hope they recognize the issues and come to their own conclusions of what should/could be done about them.”
  • “The underlying themes seem to reflect what I’m feeling about real world events, but the events themselves bear no resemblance to reality.”

Change the genre

  • “It helps that it’s a bit of magical realism. Taking a sideways approach to reality put some distance between what happened and what I wrote.”

Use a pen name

  • “What would I do to maintain anonymity? . . . well this is where me not telling friends and family (who most likely would surface in my stories in some way, if i did that sort of thing) what I write or anything about my pen names.”

Conclusion

Everyone experiences and reacts to trauma, and writers are no exception. We write about our trauma and that of others, as a way to process what we’ve experienced and share experiences with others.

If you’re a writer, how do you use writing to process trauma? What techniques do you use to write about it ethically? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Friday Five: Carolyn Dennis-Willingham

friday fiveToday’s Friday Five focus is Carolyn Dennis-Willingham, author of historical fiction novels.

Ms. Dennis-Willingham writes poetry, memoirs, and children’s books and historical novels. Her first book, No Hill for a Stepper, was published in 2011, and The Last Bordello was published in August 2016. A native Texan, Ms. Dennis-Willingham lives in Austin with her husband and a miniature Aussie. She enjoys oil painting, boxing, and spending time with her grown children and two grandchildren.

When one of Madam Fannie Porter’s soiled doves is accused of murdering a woman of the Temperance Union, nothing will stop her from learning the truth. Set in 1901, The Last Bordello is not only a who-dun-it. It is a reminder that ladies of the night struggled for survival while the suffragettes fought for a better life for all women –Two opposing sides of the same female coin.

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Carolyn1. What genre do you currently read most and why?

I read most any genre but mostly enjoy a good historical fiction. I love picturing myself and the characters in a world from the past.

2. What do you want your readers to take away from your works?

Emotional engagement with the characters and an appreciation of how they change during the course of the novel.

3. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

To travel back in any time period I feel like visiting.

4. Why should people read YOUR stuff? Who’s your target audience and why?

So I don’t have to beg. I’m not good at begging. Seriously, I like to think my characters are strong enough to either like or hate and the stories themselves will take you to places you’ve never been before. While No Hill for a Stepper appealed equally to both genders, I envision more women reading The Last Bordello. The Moonshine Thicket will appeal to young adults, the young at hearts, and anyone who likes coming-of-age stories.

5. Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? How do you deal with this?

Writing descriptions of places set in the past can be difficult since, obviously, I was never there. To combat this, I rely on old postcards and descriptions in old newspapers.

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The Last Bordello is currently available through Amazon.

Become a Friday Five author or read previous author interviews.

Media Monday: Cross-cultural historical love stories

Media MondayThe books: The Lioness of Morocco by Julia Drosten and Palm Trees in the Snow by Luz Gabás

The music: “My Companjera” by Gogol Bordello

One of the perks of being an Amazon Prime person is that I get a free book each month before it’s released (yeah, like I need free books). Some of them are crap, but I’ve had good luck with the Amazon Crossing books – books that are bestsellers in another country and have been translated into English. I’m painfully aware that I read mostly American authors, so I’m trying to branch out and incorporate other cultures into what I read.

The Lioness of Morocco is a literary romance/adventure story set in Morocco in the early 19th century. It follows Sibylla, a woman who feels trapped by her time, who convinces her husband to be an agent of her father’s shipping company in Morocco. Her husband turns out to be a less-than-worthless jerkface, and Sibylla finds herself drawn to a handsome, daring French guy who actually sees her as a person. Fate has fun pushing them together and pulling them apart, in a fascinating look at life in a North African country two hundred years ago, and all the customs and culture that goes with it.

Palm Trees in the Snow, also a very literary story, is set in both present-day Spain and on a small island off the coast of Guinea in the 1950’s. Clarence is trying to find out more about her family history and in doing so, the book follows her uncle Killian and father Jacob who moved to the island mid-century to work on a Spanish cocoa plantation. Killian fell in love with Bisila, the daughter of a native foreman on the plantation, and his niece must piece together why neither men ever returned to the island after its rough transition to independence. The story focuses on the relationship between colonizer and colony, between Whites and Blacks, and it does so in a very balanced way, showing the experiences of those on both sides of the issues, both at the time and half a century later.

For both these stories, I knew next to nothing about the history detailed in colonial Morocco or Guinea. In addition to great stories, these books were also engaging history lessons.

For the music, today it’s my favorite gypsy punk band, Gogol Bordello. “My Companjera” is a song about searching – for a partner, for reliving a shared experience, for love, for answers, for whatever. And that’s the theme of both of today’s books, I think – getting out of your comfort zone to look for more to life, and finding love and adventure in the process.

And as a bonus, here’s the trailer for Palm Trees in the Snow, which is currently available on Netflix (in Spanish, with subtitles).

Summer 2017 goal review

Every 3 months or so, I take a look at the goals I’ve set for the year and then write about how little progress I’m making on them. Here’s the update for this summer.

1. Finish something every month – short story, novella, novel, anything.

I’ve finished several chapters of a novel, plus a short story. So, about halfway there.

2. Publish at least 4 things – again, short story, novella, novel, anything. Either with my publisher or self-published or in a magazine, doesn’t matter where.

I’m two behind now on this.

3. Finish the draft of a nonfiction book that’s good for my career.

My academic timeline was pushed back a couple months, but I’m still planning on writing this book this fall.

4. Do more live events – readings, book fairs, etc. Again, it’s about getting my name out there.

This will never be a goal again because live events, at least the ones around here, are a waste of time. The only people who came to the last event were friends and family of the writers. And as much as I appreciate my grandma stopping by to say hi, she can buy books from me any time. That said, I’m doing a presentation in a couple weeks at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (okay, so not THE Iowa Writer’s Workshop, just a writing workshop at the University of Iowa, but whatever) that may be interesting. Then a couple local-ish events in August, a reading in October, and nothing else unless it’s free to participate and I don’t have anything else going on.

5. Travel more internationally – and Canada doesn’t count.

A research assistantship position ended this spring, so I recently got a part-time job as a youth residential counselor. While I’m enjoying it so far, it doesn’t leave much time for travel. I went to Michigan a couple times in June, and I’m heading to the Pacific Northwest and Canadian Rockies in a couple weeks. No international travel other than Canada, though.

However, I did book tickets just this week to go back to India in January! I’m taking my kid with me, and we’re hitting the Taj Mahal before heading south to work on a project. I’m super excited about this trip.

6. Read 100 books.

I’m at 43 right now – 7 behind schedule. I caught up a bit earlier this summer, but I’m falling behind again. Still, I think I can still catch up and make this goal this year.

Overall

I’m still in the game. This past semester kicked my butt, and while I’m pretty much recovered, my new job is consuming a lot of my time – plus (fingers crossed!) I’ll be starting my dissertation in the next couple weeks. It doesn’t leave a lot of time for writing, but on the plus side, my new job has given me a lot of story ideas that I really need to write to help me process working with this particular population. Overall, I’m cautiously optimistic that I’ll come pretty close to meeting my goals this year.

If you’ve set goals for yourself, how’re they going so far this year?

Weekend Writing Warrior 7/2/17 #8Sunday

coverI live right across the river from Iowa, which passed a law this year legalizing pretty much all fireworks. Normally to get the good stuff you have to drive a couple hours to Wisconsin or Missouri, but now everyone has access to everything, and for the past couple weeks my neighborhood has been under siege, with explosions ringing out nearly constantly. It’s irritating to me – and I can only imagine how bad it is for vets with PTSD.

So, in honor of the Fourth and my idiot neighbors, this week’s excerpt is from “Crash,” another story in The Futility of Loving a Soldier, my collection of short stories about veterans and their families.

In this story, a father worries about how his daughter, who has combat-related flashbacks, will react – but this year, she has a secret weapon.

* * * * * * *

It was July third and neighbors had been shooting off fireworks all evening. Members of his support group had shared how hard it was for some veterans on the Fourth, especially if they’d had experiences like his daughter’s. He anticipated she’d spend the next couple days holed-up in her room, alternating between depression and violent rage. He anticipated she’d be like that right now, in fact, and he had no idea how he’d deal with it.

To his surprise, she was smiling – laughing, even. She played a game of fetch with the dog, running and twirling and showing an exuberance he couldn’t remember her having since her mom had died six years earlier.

A string of firecrackers went off in the distance. Bill tensed, and so did Lindy. Not the dog though; it pressed its nose against her hand. She looked down at it, smiled, and threw a drool-soaked tennis ball for it to chase.

* * * * * * *

Post a link to your eight-ten sentence blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

Head over to Amazon and get a copy of The Futility of Loving a Soldier, just $2.99 or free with KU.

Eleven stories of what it means to love a soldier:

  • A girlfriend explains why she knew her boyfriend wouldn’t come back from the front.
  • A stranger reminds a veteran what matters in life.
  • A wife struggles to trust her husband with their baby after he returns from deployment.
  • Old friends search for a way to reclaim the dreams and plans of their childhood.
  • A woman haunted by her experiences finds an unlikely ally.
  • One man’s enlistment creates ripple effects for generations as four sons seek to make sense of what they and their fathers are fighting for.

The stories in this collection explore the physical and psychological effects of combat, both on those who serve and those back home. Told from the points of view of spouses and children as well as the soldiers themselves, the stories tackle eleven different scenarios spanning five American wars. Guilt and acceptance, despair and hope, selfishness and sacrifice, and above all, love, blend together as characters come to realize maybe their feelings aren’t futile after all.

And if you’re a writer, sign up to be a Friday Five author, which gets you and your latest work featured on my blog.

Weekend Writing Warrior 6/25/17 #8Sunday

promoI meant to get a new story published this week, but I started a new job whose training left me exhausted. So, this week’s snippet is one of my favorite things I’ve written, from the short story “A Wedding” in The Futility of Loving a Soldier, my collection of short stories about veterans and their families.

In this excerpt, Abby is visiting her childhood friend, Eli, who was injured in Iraq.

* * * * * * *

I’d stepped into the room where he lay unconscious, passed out from pain and medication. He looked so pathetic lying there, with bigger muscles than the last time I’d seen him, but paler—deathly pale with huge black circles under his eyes, cuts all over his exposed face and neck, and a bandage where his left arm should’ve been.

I edged over to his bed and picked up his right hand—his only hand now—careful not to disturb any of the wires and tubes sticking out of him. I stared at his fingers and palm, tracing the calluses on his fingertips before gently setting it back down and leaving the room.

I didn’t go back.

***

Jamie Linn had been there to help him rebound and rebuild once he returned home. She’d had a crush on him for as long as anyone could remember. She was a nurse now, or home care aide or traveling physical therapist—something that got her into his house each day and got him back to healthy.

Once he was better, up and around and selling used cars with his dad, she’d stuck around. It was the perfect romance story come to life, except my mom said Eli had bad spells where he’d just lock himself in his room and stare at the walls, and Jamie Linn got all weepy whenever a show like The Bachelor or 19 Kids and Counting came on and reminded her that she was twenty-seven, childless, and engaged to a moody one-handed used car salesman.

* * * * * * *

Post a link to your eight-ten sentences blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

Head over to Amazon and get a copy of The Futility of Loving a Soldier, just $2.99 or free with KU.

Eleven stories of what it means to love a soldier:

  • A girlfriend explains why she knew her boyfriend wouldn’t come back from the front.
  • A stranger reminds a veteran what matters in life.
  • A wife struggles to trust her husband with their baby after he returns from deployment.
  • Old friends search for a way to reclaim the dreams and plans of their childhood.
  • A woman haunted by her experiences finds an unlikely ally.
  • One man’s enlistment creates ripple effects for generations as four sons seek to make sense of what they and their fathers are fighting for.

The stories in this collection explore the physical and psychological effects of combat, both on those who serve and those back home. Told from the points of view of spouses and children as well as the soldiers themselves, the stories tackle eleven different scenarios spanning five American wars. Guilt and acceptance, despair and hope, selfishness and sacrifice, and above all, love, blend together as characters come to realize maybe their feelings aren’t futile after all.

And if you’re a writer, sign up to be a Friday Five author, which gets you and your latest work featured on my blog.

 

Weekend Writing Warrior 6/18/17 #8Sunday

It’s been awhile since I’ve participated in WeWriWa! This week, I’m posting a micro story I wrote for a contest on a writing critique site I use.

The prompt was, “Shootout at the the Alrighty Corral.” My story is titled, “Return of the Revenge of the Resurrected.”

* * * * * * *

“Yeah, I’m hideous,” I told the sympathetic barkeep, “but I didn’t ask to be like this.”

He nodded.

I knew he didn’t care, was just being professional, but alcohol made me loquacious so I continued, “All I wanted was acceptance and love; is that so wrong?”

“Nope.”

“So maybe I kinda murdered his girlfriend, but I still maintain he deserved it.”

The clock outside chimed noon.

“He didn’t die on that boat, you know. He faked his death so I’d leave him alone, but it didn’t work. I tracked him here, and now….” I slammed down my glass and went out to meet my maker.

* * * * * * *

Post a link to your eight sentences blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

And if you’re a writer, sign up to be a Friday Five author, which gets you and your latest work featured on my blog.

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