Tag: short story

Media Monday: On (not) coping with the death of a loved one

Media MondayThe story: “Find Me an Angel” by E.D. Martin

The movie: A Man Called Ove

The music: Hula” by Solstafir

A few years ago, I participated in a writing competition that tasked us to write a story based on the song “The Riddle” by 80’s British teen idol Nik Kershaw. I’d never really heard of him, but the more I listened to his stuff, the more I liked it. I decided to write a story based on each of 100+ songs he’s put out over the last few decades (I’ve currently finished about 5).

One of my favorite songs of his is “Find Me An Angel,” which inspired this week’s story. I interpreted it as a man, overcome with debilitating grief after his wife’s death, issuing a desperate plea to her to help him find relief. I entered the story in a contest on my writing critique site and although I didn’t win, I got a really positive response, so I posted it on Medium where it’s had a strong showing. Go read it.

Shortly after I posted “Find Me an Angel,” I watched a thematically-related Swedish movie, A Man Called Ove (although the trailer says it’s lighthearted, don’t be fooled – it’s a tearjerker). It’s about this cranky old Swedish guy, Ove, whoss wife recently passed away. As the movie progresses, we’re shown just how much he doted on her and what a positive influence she was on him. He decides he can’t live without her and tries to kill himself but keeps getting interrupted by people in his life needing him – including a fiery angel in the form of his new neighbor, Parvaneh. It’s also a book by Fredrik Backman, which I haven’t read yet but intend to do soon.

Finally, today’s song is “Hula” by Solstafir, which I picked for several reasons. First, the lyrics and video are about a woman (not) coping with the death of her child, which fits in with “Find Me an Angel” and A Man Called Ove. Second, the song is beautiful. And third, I’ve been trying to work as much Icelandic stuff into my life as possible as my spring break trip to Vikingland gets closer.

Taken as a whole, my story, the movie, and the song all portray different aspects of how someone reacts to grief. Do you give into it? Do you hold it inside and let yourself become bitter or empty? Or do you accept your loss and strengthen your relationships with those around you? For each of the characters, it seems to be a combination of all three.

New stories to share!

Eight years ago, in 2009, I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time. I came out of it with a really crappy novel and a renewed love of fiction writing – it had been over a decade since I’d done any creative writing. Although my first novel will never see the light of day without massive rewrites, I’ve built up quite a collection of short stories that are ready to be released into the world. Some have been published in various online and print journals and anthologies, while others have been compiled into collections on their own.

But I still have a lot of stories that are just languishing in the cloud. While I intend to release them in collections some day, when I have enough to combine into a decent offering, I want to be able to get them out NOW. I’ve been too busy with grad school over the past few years to focus on submitting them to publications, so I was glad when I found out about Medium as a platform.

Medium is a website that delivers your work to potentially millions of readers. I’ve set up an account, where every week or two I plan to publish something new. I already have a handful of stories that you can read.

I also plan to publish articles and guides related to my career passions – trauma-informed care, education, and research. I’m hoping my fiction readers aren’t too turned off by this stuff, but I don’t feel like maintaining two accounts so you’ll just have to learn while being entertained.

Please, if you have a chance, follow me on Medium and read the new stories I have to offer!

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.

Thursday Things: teaching ain’t always butterflies and rainbows

thursday thingsI taught high school English for two years and a high school job and life skills class for another year. I also did a year long school social work internship in an elementary school and an alternative junior high/high school. And in the next few weeks, I’ll be (hopefully!) starting a job as a counselor at a residential facility for adjudicated teens (ie, court-ordered). So, I know a thing or two about being in the classroom.

There’s all kinds of stuff out there, from books to movies, about feel good, inspirational stories in the classroom. Michelle Pfeiffer inspired poor gangsta kids to care! Jaime Escalante (who actually is one of my heroes) taught poor gangsta kids calculus! Sister Whoopie Goldberg inspired poor gangsta kids to love life through singing!

Yeah, teachers and faculty do teach and inspire kids every day. Lots of our kids are success stories, like a student in my remedial reading class who went on to college. But for every kid that succeeds, there’s a line behind him of kids who either don’t succeed (but don’t fail), or who do fail. And a lot of times, teachers don’t even know it because that kid we’ve been trying to help leaves our lives, leaving us to worry and wonder what happened.

And that’s what inspired my short story “Slipping Through the Cracks,” which is in my short story collection Us, Together and also over on Medium.

It’s about a boy I had in my high school class, R, who told me one day that he didn’t know the alphabet. So I worked with him and he made great progress – and then he left. That was twelve years ago, and I sometimes wonder what happened to him. Did he find another teacher to help him continue to learn to read? Did he drop out of school to work in the fields with his family? Did he get deported back to Mexico?

I’ll never know, and as much as I might have wanted to give Alejandro in the story a happy ending, it wouldn’t be fair to R.

* * * * * * *

cover

About Us, Together:

Six stories about the problems teenagers face, from relationships and unplanned pregnancy, to absent parents and poverty, loosely based on stories and students E.D. Martin encountered while teaching at-risk kids.

“The stories are easy to read, well-crafted, and deal with human issues in a sensitive way.”

Available for $.99 at Amazon or free through Kindle Unlimited

* * * * * * *

Thursday Things is a weekly-ish feature highlighting little known facts, ideas, and stories behind my stories. Is there something you want to know more about? Let me know!

Thursday Things: random facts about the history of mental hospitals

ThursdayThingsMy short story “Tim and Sara” takes place at Kirkbride, a state hospital. Although the story is fictional, the hospital isn’t.

My Kirkbride is based on the state hospital in Fergus Falls, Minnesota (which is also the building on the story’s cover). What makes this building different than other state hospitals is its design and purpose.

Pre-Civil War, people suffering from mental health issues in the US were treated like criminals: locked up in tiny cells, often shackled and abused.

In the 1840s, Dr. Thomas Kirkbride came to the now obvious conclusion that people suffering mental health issues would do better in airy, light-filled buildings with private rooms, so he designed a bunch of state hospitals that tried to respect patient dignity. The Fergus Falls building was one of these.

As the US has moved to community-based, out-patient treatment for people with mental health issues, many Kirkbride buildings have been torn down or sit empty, like the one in Minnesota.

Fergus Falls state hospital

Fergus Falls state hospital in 2013

I used to drive past it on the interstate, and although no one’s there now, it still makes for a cool story.

* * * * * * *

Tim and SaraAbout “Tim and Sara:”

The victim of debilitating flashbacks, Tim is content to spend the rest of his life at Kirkbride, a state mental hospital. But his friend and fellow resident Sara is concerned that she has to save her soul before it’s too late, and so she devises a plan to break them out of the hospital. Can Tim help his friend while holding onto what’s left of his sanity?

Available for $.99 at Amazon or free through Kindle Unlimited

* * * * * * *

Thursday Things is a weekly-ish feature highlighting little known facts, ideas, and stories behind my stories. Is there something you want to know more about? Let me know!

2016 Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza – Day 8

E.D. Martin's 2016 Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza!

I’ll be home for Christmas; you can plan on me. There’ll be books, for Kindles and Nooks, and lots of swag under your tree.

Every day from now until Christmas, I’ll be giving away copies of my books (digital AND print), Amazon gift cards, and book-related stuff. A new chance to win, every day!

December 1st: ebook of “Not My Thing” short story
December 2nd: ebook of “Tim and Sara” short story
December 3rd: $5 Amazon gift card
December 4th: signed paperback copy of The Futility of Loving a Soldier (available exclusively through this contest!)
December 5th: prize carried over from the 4th because no one entered that day. C’mon people – it’s free stuff!
December 6th: paperback of Shadow on the Wall by P.K. Tyler
December 7th: three ebook copies of my novel, Yours to Keep or Throw Aside
December 8th: three ebook copies of my short story collection, Us, Together

Six stories about the problems teenagers face, from relationships and unplanned pregnancy, to absent parents and poverty, loosely based on stories and students E.D. Martin encountered while teaching at-risk kids.

Plus, each entry in the daily contests will be carried over to a big prize at the end (I haven’t decided what that will be yet, but it’s definitely something you want to win – more details coming soon)!

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E.D. Martin’s 2016 Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza – Day 2

E.D. Martin's 2016 Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza!

Christmas 2013: The Lone Wolf (since retitled Yours to Keep or Throw Aside) was released.

Christmas 2014: The Futility of Loving a Soldier ebook was released.

Christmas 2015: Nothing new.

Last Christmas, I didn’t do much for my readers so this year, to save you from tears, I’m giving you something special!

Every day from now until Christmas, I’ll be giving away copies of my books (digital AND print), Amazon gift cards, and book-related stuff. A new chance to win, every day!

December 1st: ebook of “Not My Thing” short story
December 2nd: ebook of “Tim and Sara” short story

The victim of debilitating flashbacks, Tim is content to spend the rest of his life at Kirkbride, a state mental hospital. But his friend and fellow resident Sara is concerned that she has to save her soul before it’s too late, and so she devises a plan to break them out of the hospital. Can Tim help his friend while holding onto what’s left of his sanity?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

E.D. Martin’s 2016 Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza – Day 1

E.D. Martin's 2016 Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza!

The weather outside’s near freezing, and my space heater is pleasing. Since we’ve no place to be, win a book for free, book for free, book for free!

Every day from now until Christmas, I’ll be giving away copies of my books (digital AND print), Amazon gift cards, and book-related stuff. A new chance to win, every day!

December 1st: ebook of “Not My Thing” short story

When The Dancing Freemasons embark on their first major tour, Jeff’s dreams of being a rock star have come true – until he can no longer connect with the music. One night after a show, he meets a woman who might be the one to get the music flowing again, but is the cost worth it?

Simply leave a comment below by midnight CST, and I’ll randomly pick a winner!

And check back every day for a chance to win new stuff!

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