Tag: flash fiction

Weekend Writing Warriors 4/27/14 #WeWriWa

ustogethercoverIt finally appears we’re getting spring this year after all. To commemorate the warmer weather, green grass, and chance for outdoor activities not requiring mittens, this week’s excerpt is from a short story, “Man of the House,” that’s in my collection Us, Together.

For eight-year-old Jerry, Sunday, May 17th, 1987, started as a day just like any other, with church in the morning followed by an afternoon on the couch watching baseball with Dad. Mom kept popping her head in from the kitchen to complain about the beer, the cigarettes, the TV being so goddamn loud and didn’t he realize the baby was trying to sleep?


Of course Dad must have realized it, sitting there hunched over, rubbing his temples and downing can after can of Budweiser. Good American beer for a good American man, he always said. When Jerry was older he was never able to drink the stuff himself, told everyone it tasted like crap but really the taste brought back memories that made him cry.


But that day in May, that Sunday, Jerry wasn’t crying. He was eight years old, bouncing on the couch, rooting for the Cubbies. Asking Dad if he saw that play, if he thought it could’ve gone another way, if that ump was crazy, and Dad just sat there on the couch, drinking beer after beer, not answering.

Read the rest of the story, and five others about kids trying to cope with what life throws at them, in Us, Together, just $.99 at Amazon.

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

The Ones – Night Goes Neighbors: guest story by Alisia Faust

The Ones is a writing blog game in which participants receive a story title and a little wrinkle to up the challenge factor, and then must create a single draft story in no more than one hour from the prompt. They then trade stories and post someone else’s entry on their website. My guest this week is writer Alisia Faust.

Night Goes Neighbors

The jumbled mix of voices pulled me from my dream back to reality. I wasn’t ready to leave the comforting embrace of sleep, and kept my eyes shut tight, hoping to drift back to wonderland.

“How could you be so stupid?” A deep baritone boomed. That was Mr. Mann—I’d recognize that threatening voice anywhere—which meant his daughter Jessica must be nearby.

“What are we going to tell his parents?” Jessica spoke quietly, so I leaned forward to hear her.

“We have to tell them the truth. Damn it, Jessica, what were you thinking?”

She fell silent. Or did she? Jessica had always been soft-spoken. I strained my ears to listen, and my foot knocked something to the ground. The sharp clatter rang in my ears. I hastily laid back and pulled the thin blankets over my chest, feeling a gentle pressure tug on my arm. Was there a needle in my arm?

I could feel the weight of their eyes smothering me, and beads of sweat formed at my temples. Although my heart pounded wildly in my chest, I tried to keep my breathing deep and steady. In my effort to stay calm, I noticed the slight chill in the air. My limbs were uncomfortably free of clothing, and I missed my favourite hoodie. The room smelled unfamiliar too—too clean with a lingering scent of antiseptics. How long had I been in the hospital?

Mr. Mann’s deep voice cut through my thoughts. “He could have been killed!”

“But he wasn’t,” Jessica said. Although her voice became unusually strong, her words waivered a little.

“Thank god for that. But that’s not the point. You’re the responsible one. You were supposed to keep him out of trouble.”

“I didn’t think he’d jump off the roof!”

“That’s right, you didn’t think. What were you two doing on the roof in the first place?”

Jessica hesitated. I knew what she was thinking. We’d been hanging out on the roof ever since I learned how to climb a tree. Our bedroom windows faced each other. At first we would flash lights to grab each other’s attention and hold up notes against the window. Then I noticed the rogue bough. A sturdy apple tree separated our property. One of the higher branches hung right below her window sill. My room was on the second floor and over looked the garage. If I hopped onto the slanted roof of the garage, then I could easily pull myself onto the nearest branch of the apple tree.

The first time I stuck my leg out of my window Jessica cried out in warning and surprise. I was almost caught by my parents and urged her to keep quiet. She continued to chide me with fierce whispers, but after a few times it didn’t bother her anymore.

I don’t know why I tried to jump. I know it’s stupid. I just wanted Jessica to see me as fearless, but all I accomplished was make another mess for her to clean up.

“You’re lucky, Jessica. He’s lucky. But after something like this he’ll never be the same.”

I frowned. I could hear Jessica’s sniffles and sporadic gasps. It was time to wake up.

“I’m okay,” I said. I opened my eyes expecting to see their shocked faces—Jessica’s nose would be red and her eyes puffy but somehow she’d still look so pretty. Instead, my world remained dark.


Alisia began writing when she was between jobs with too much time on her hands. Now she’s juggling three different writing projects at once. She is primarily a flash fiction writer, partially because it caters to her ever shortening attention span. More of her work can be found on her blog, or follow her on twitter: @eurasianflavour.

To read the next entry in the circle, click here. To go straight to my story from this prompt, go to Kishan Paul‘s blog.

May Story-A-Day roundup

Every month seems to be a new writing challenge of some sort, and for May it’s Story-A-Day. Simply write a story – any length, any prompt – each day for thirty-one days.

I participated last year (both in May and again in September), and I’m able to say I did better this time than I have in the past.

And like the previous two times, the reasons I didn’t make it come down to just a few things:

  • Not enough time to write. I work full-time and am searching for a different job. I’m in grad school, which requires a lot of reading. I have a kid who appreciates my attention. I have a bit of a social life. Ideally I would just write write write, but I have a lot of people and things needing my time.
  • Procrastination. Quite often when I sit down to write, I find myself distracted by the internet: blogs, forums, Facebook and Twitter, and whatever rabbit’s hole I go down whenever I watch a video on YouTube. There were several days this month where I went to my favorite writing spot and accomplished quite a bit, just because there’s no internet there (although I can easily find distractions with my phone).
  • A night-owl muse. I’m most creative between 10 pm and 2 am, which kinda sucks. Most nights I’ll get started writing about midnight, but after awhile I’m so tired from the four hours of sleep I got because of staying up late writing the night before, that I have to stop and go to bed.

Nonetheless, I’m relatively proud of this year’s Story-A-Day. It’s not great but it’s not bad, and sometimes that’s good enough.

Weekend Writing Warriors 5/26 #8sunday

Tomorrow is a holiday in America, Memorial Day. It’s a three-day weekend for lots of people, a day when all they do is sleep in and have picnics and take advantage of big sales. But it’s more than that; it’s a day to honor our country’s fallen soldiers.

I never served, but many of my family members have: great-grandfather was infantry in WWI, grandfather was infantry in WWII, uncle in the Air Force in Vietnam, a couple more infantry, and numerous cousins in the Marines, as well as many friends who’ve served.

Earlier this year, a classmate’s older brother, a 34-year-old divorced former Marine, died unexpectedly in his home; most likely suicide. My grandfather killed himself due, in part, to depression related to combat. Both men left behind small children.

Today’s snippet comes from my short story “The Futility of Loving a Soldier,” published in Eunoia Review last fall. It’ll also be in the short story collection of the same name I plan to release later this week. Read my snippet, then go hug and thank a veteran. They need it and they deserve it.

You were typical military, born to live in tents halfway around the world, born to shoot guns at the bad guys. Once you went over, once you tasted it, it was always with you. You tried to ignore it, tried to push it down and live a normal life, but it wasn’t working for you. I could see the quiet haunting despair in your eyes, after an evening drinking with your army buddies. After watching a war movie on TV. After hearing a car backfire, after being in a crowded open area.

You wanted to go back; you needed to go back.

I knew better than to stop you. 

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

The Next Big Thing — Blog Hop

Author George Wells has tagged me to answer some questions about my Next Big Thing, which is a collection of short stories I’m releasing at the end of May.

1. What is the working title of your story?

The collection is called The Futility of Loving a Soldier, with eleven stories in it.

2. Where did the idea for the story come from?

Like most stories I write, I look at the people around me, at their experiences, and try to guess their thoughts and motivation. One of these stories came from a conversation I had with a homeless veteran; 5 of the stories are connected and are roughly based on the military history of five generations in my family.

3. What genre does your story come under?

I aim for literary fiction, as I focus more on character development than fast-paced plot, but probably just general fiction.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Since they’re all short stories, I haven’t thought about it. It would be wonderful though if someone made them into short films.

5. What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

The physical and psychological effects of war on both those who serve and those back home who love them.

6. Will your story be self-published, published by an independent publisher or represented by an agency?

A couple of the stories have already been published in various webzines and sites. The book will be self-published, but if my novel gets picked up by a publisher I might look into having them reissue this as well.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I’ve been working on these stories for a couple years, with each one taking anywhere from a day to several months to write.

8. What other books would you compare your story to within your genre?

Probably Stephen King’s Hearts in Atlantis, which is a collection of shorts and novellas with connected characters and themes. In addition to the military theme of my stories, two are about the same characters at different places in their life, and five show the effects of the military on five generations in a family. So, lots of connections.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this story?

As a writer with a psychology background, I’m fascinated with people’s stories and motivation for how they live their lives. And it seems like everywhere you turn, you run into people who are connected to the military, each with a story to tell: a fellow teacher whose son was killed in Afghanistan; a classmate who was a nurse at Landstuhl, the US military hospital in Germany; as well as coworkers, friends, and relatives who’ve served.

So many veterans come back and say they’re ignored. I wanted to try to tell their stories because so often I think civilians take for granted the sacrifices service men and women and their families have made, sacrifices that affect them for the rest of their lives.

10. What else about your story might pique the reader’s interest?

Even if you’ve never been in the military or been close to someone who’s served, chances are you’re connected somehow. These are stories everyone can relate to.

11. What has been the hardest part about writing this story?

Getting the details right. I have no military experience, so all my knowledge comes from books I’ve read, movies and documentaries I’ve seen, and people I’ve talked to. Fortunately I have quite a few people I’ve been able to go to for questions and they’ve been more than happy to explain everything to me, as well as add their own insights. To that end, however, I’ve decided not to write about actual combat because I don’t want to mess anything up.

12. What has been the most fun?

Hearing from readers that I perfectly captured an experience they had or could relate to, especially veterans.

13. Has writing this story illuminated any of your own strengths or weaknesses for you?

Yes, that if I pay attention to details, to what someone isn’t saying when they talk about their experiences as well as what they do say, I can pick up on their motivation well enough to tell their story accurately.

And that I procrastinate way too much; I’ve been working on finishing these stories right up until the deadline, rather than making myself work on them sooner.

14. What misconceptions do people have about your genre, and do you think your story addresses them?

My mom once asked me what kind of stories I wrote: horror, sci-fi, etc. I told her contemporary fiction, about everyday people and events, and she responded, “Who’d want to read that?”  A lot of people read for the escapism value, and that’s missing in stories about ordinary life.

However, I think that reading contemporary stories is extremely important because they give insight into the lives and experiences of the people around us, people who often aren’t willing or able to share with us, but whose stories are no less valid.

People don’t exist in a vacuum; at more than one point in your life you’re going to have to deal with people who aren’t like you. And you’re going to have a much better outcome if you can get inside their head, which is something I think contemporary fiction can help with.

15. What is your favorite scene you’ve written for this story?

Scenes don’t really apply, so I’ll comment on the stories instead. Two of them are about a pair of friends, Abby and Eli; the first, “Burger Run,” is set during the summer after they graduate high school, and the second, “A Wedding,” is ten years later, when they’ve come back to their hometown.  They’ve been best friends since they were babies, so they have this powerful bond between them that they’re not really consciously aware of.  I love how it gradually dawns on them when they need each other most.

So that’s my Next Big Thing. There are so many authors that read my blog, rather than tag anyone in particular, I tag whoever’s reading this. So you. Yes, you! What’s your Next Big Thing?

M is for Mary Efflandt Photography/cover reveal #atozchallenge

Day M of the 2013 Blogging from A to Z April challenge. Today’s topic: Mary Efflandt Photography.

My best friend from middle and high school is a photographer who graciously made the cover of my upcoming short story collection, The Futility of Loving a Soldier, which will be released Memorial Day.

I told her what I wanted: a kid dressed as a soldier waving a flag. She took the concept and did a fantastic job with it.  And now every time I see this cover, I get super excited about my book!

Weekend Writing Warriors 4/14/13 #8sunday

Today’s eight are from one of the stories in the collection I’d like to release next winter, and I’m pretty sure this story is directly linked to last week’s.

Alec (who also appears in my flash story “The Kindness of Strangers” in The Indiana Horror Anthology 2011) is some kind of incubus-like demon who travels around devouring souls and just generally causing destruction and chaos.  In this excerpt he’s lured Brianna, someone he met at a bar, back to her apartment and already incubus-ed her, but she’s not passing out/dying like they usually do.

“I know it sounds like something from a bad romance movie but you complete me, Alex.” She giggled and reached out for him, saying, “Kiss me again.”

Alec stared at the woman in front of him, barely believing what was happening; it had been so long since a woman asked him for a kiss, not since- A name buzzed in his subconscious, a name from before.

He frowned, trying to catch that name, that memory. It had been so long ago, whatever life he’d come from, that he’d given up trying to remember any of it. For so long he’d been focused on sowing chaos and feeding on the ensuing fear and despair, unable and unwilling to think about before, and now Brianna was triggering it all for him.

“Who are you?” he whispered.

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

K is for the Kingdom of Loathing #atozchallenge

Day K of the 2013 Blogging from A to Z April challenge. Today’s topic: The Kingdom of Loathing.

When my kid was a baby, a couple friends tipped me off to one of the funnest games online, The Kingdom of Loathing.  It’s a text-based MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) consisting of stick drawings.  It’s very tongue-in-cheek, sarcastic, and sometimes just plain silly, poking fun at various cult and pop culture offerings from the past few decades.

You start off as a stick figure in one of the six various classes (I prefer Seal Clubber or Disco Bandit), then complete fifteen main quests and numerous smaller ones, fighting off reanimated leftovers, drunk hobos, hippies and frat boys, pirates, and really just a bunch of random bad guys.  You start each day with forty turns, but you can get more by eating food and drinking booze you find along the way.  Gold buys you new skills,

Once you beat the Naughty Sorceress in the final quest and free King Ralph, you have two choices: keep playing (the Old Man by the Sea directs you to harder oceanic levels), or ascend to Valhalla.

Normally I choose to ascend. You pick who to be for your next run.  In addition to gender, class, and skill to learn permanently, you can choose various options to make the game harder, like playing hardcore (can’t use anything from your previous life, including all your old stuff, or get help from friends) or going on a restricted diet.  A harder run gets you special items when you finish.

I find this concept really interesting, to the point that it’s influenced the collection of short stories I’m currently working on, to be released hopefully around Christmas.  What if when we die, we get a checklist of options to choose in our next life – ways to make it easier or harder, with more karma earned for a harder run? What if the choices we made in a previous life influence our future lives?

All the stories in this collection, tentatively titled Between Light and Dark, will focus around this idea, of two soulmates dealing with the repercussions of the choices they make not only in their lives, but in their afterlives.  And making it even more complicated for them is that often they don’t even know what those choices were.

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G is for Goals Review #atozchallenge

Day G of the 2013 Blogging from A to Z April challenge. Today’s topic: goals review.

Each year I set goals for myself, and every three months I review my progress.

2013 goals:

  1. Publish my novel, The Lone Wolf.
  2. Average a short story acceptance each month, with the majority of them in paying markets.
  3. Put out a short story collection.
  4. Get another novel ready to query.
  5. Read 100 books this year
  6. Kayak the entire length of the Hennepin Canal.

So far this year, I’m off to a pretty good start.

  1. A full manuscript of The Lone Wolf was requested by a publisher after I queried them, and it’s currently in review.
  2. I’ve only had one acceptance so far this year, “Us, Together” which was published in Fiction365, on Mar 27, but it was a paying market. I pulled a bunch of my stories from the submission queue in order to include them in my upcoming collection, so I’m down to just seven to send out. I have several dozen started and ideas for a dozen more, so maybe I can get some finished during next month’s Story-A-Day Challenge. Because forcing myself to write under a deadline has worked so well for me in the past.
  3. I have a short story collection, The Futility of Loving a Soldier, set for release on Memorial Day; I just need to finish one story and edit another. And I have the stories all lined up for another collection I’d like to release for Christmas; 3 are finished which leaves just 14 to go.
  4. I’ve been focusing on short stories so I haven’t been working on novels much. Last year’s NaNo needs an overhaul; maybe once this short story collection’s done I’ll spend the summer working on polishing a novel.
  5. So far I’m at 26, which according to Goodread’s tracker is where I should be. I have a bunch of books on my Kindle app, and I’ve been trying to read some of those when there’s a lull at work.

    2013 Reading Challenge

    2013 Reading Challenge
    E.D. has
    read 26 books toward her goal of 100 books.

  6. Spring is just now making an appearance; I’m not hardcore enough to kayak in cold, crappy weather. 

If you’re a writer, what are your goals for the rest of the year?  If you set goals for yourself at the beginning of the year, how are you doing with them? 

    A is for Antagonist #atozchallenge

    (Last year I signed up for the 2012 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. I met some great writers, so I thought I’d do it again this year too. Basically, you write a blog post every day in April except Sundays, going through the alphabet.)

    Day A of the 2013 Blogging from A to Z April challenge. Today’s topic: antagonists.

    A couple years ago I wrote a short story, “The Kindness of Strangers,” which appeared in the The Indiana Horror Anthology 2011. Basically it was about a girl who wanted to get revenge on her ex-boyfriend, and she was helped by an evil paranormal antagonist, Alec.

    Usually I write about a character once, and that’s it; I have very few recurring characters.  But Alec stuck with me, and when I started a story about a guy driving through the Midwest causing trouble just for the fun of it, I realized that guy was Alec.  The story is mostly written, except for the end, and I’ve been stuck on it for quite awhile.  This past weekend, the story unstuck itself.

    I realized that I’d been looking at Alec all wrong.  Yes, he’s the antagonist.  Yes, he’s an unsympathetic d-bag whom readers will probably want to suffer for his crimes.  But he’s more than that; he has a back story, and motivation, and a goal.

    I read somewhere recently that every character is the star of his or her own story, and antagonists are no exception.  Great antagonists are ones who could be us except for the (subjectively?) bad choices they’ve made.  They’re trying to reach their goals as best they can, skewed by their moral perceptions and backgrounds.  And my Alec is no exception.  In order to connect, in order for an antagonist to be memorable, I think a big part of it is just getting to know the antagonist as well as the protagonist.

    Who’s your favorite antagonist, and why? Do you prefer nuanced villains or one-dimensional bad guys, and why?

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