Thursday, August 30, 2012

Not Just Another Flash in the Pan: My First Attempt at Flash Fiction

So, I just entered my first online flash fiction contest. For those unfamiliar with the term, let me spoil your hopes and dreams now. There is no Flash Gordon, Flash Lightning, or Flashdancing of any sort.

It simply is a short story that is no longer than 1000 words. It should have a beginning, middle, and end, along with a clear conflict, resolution, and characterization. Bonus points for voice and character development. Setting's cool too.

The idea is that in flash fiction, the story itself is somewhat ambiguous. And there should be a twist or something unexpected.

All that in less than 1000 words. I said it couldn't be done. By me anyway. So, I channeled my inner John Locke *of LOST fame although the philosopher is pretty cool too* and said to myself, 'Self, don't tell me what I can't do! Just for that, I'm gonna do it. And I'm gonna enter a contest. And I'm gonna win, dammit!' Myself can be pretty convincing when it wants to be, so I did it.

Yep, that's right. I got it all in 737 words. (this particular contest was 750 and under)
Not that I am bragging mind you, but I did come up with the idea at 7 pm the other night, and had it written and done by bedtime. How did I do it? The first line came to me and the character narrated from there. She's a pretty feisty girl. A real tiger. It may not be perfect, but you know what? I dig it.

Will I win? That remains to be seen. But, I'm proud of it and think it's a hoot.

And if you can name her (she is nameless at present), I'll give you a cookie.

So, here it is.


It wasn't a cold I caught the night I kissed Jimmy Marino.

He picked me up at my Nana's place. In a polished white El Camino, complete with fuzzy dice. Classy right?

So, you know, we went to the park--to catch up on old times, talk politics and stuff. That's what all kids do when they go to the park. Yeah, sure.

We was gettin' all hot and heavy, right. He was kissin' my neck and movin' his hands in not so innocent positions. I was kinda embarrassed. After all, we weren't alone. There was like, a ton of people there with us. So it wasn't exactly a private affair. But there he was, smellin' all kinds of Drakkar Noir and I was havin' a hard time keeping it PG.

I says to him, 'Jimmy, we can't go too far, because, you know, we're in public' and he just moaned and nibbled my ear sayin', 'Baby, trust me. I'll only go as far as you'll let me'. And I did. Trust him, that is.

That's why what happened next got under my skin so bad.

Takin' a breather from his happy hands, I told Jimmy I had to go to the ladies' room. Really, I just needed some time to cool down and keep things in perspective. Last thing I needed was my life to get complicated. I mean between school, workin' at Gina's Parducci's salon, and babysittin' my little sister, I had no time left for the likes of Jimmy Marino. But damn, he was hot. So maybe I'd make it work.

Anyway, I slipped out of the bucket seat, and made my way to the restroom, which was foul by the way. I took care of business, and then checked myself out in the mirror. My lipstick was smudged and I could see a red patch where Jimmy's chin stubble rubbed me raw. Fluffin' my hair and adjustin' my skinny jeans, I made sure I looked decent.

In walked the bustiest, fake tanned, blond girl I'd ever seen. She was a walkin' cliché, you know what I mean? Anyway, she gives me the once over and smacks her gum like some kinda cow munchin' on grass. She says, 'You're the girl with Jimmy tonight?' and I says, 'Yeah, why? You got somethin' to say about it?'

She gets real close, like in my personal space, you know? And she says in her minty fresh breathy voice, 'You better use protection. Jimmy's been around more than a dirty doorknob, if you get me'.  I says, 'Thanks for the warnin', but I can handle myself'. She smiles and says, 'I'm sure that's what last night's girl thought too' and she turns away and heads into the stall.

So I'm sittin' there thinkin', What the hell? Jimmy hooked up with some chick last night and now he's tryin' to get lucky with me? What a douche bag.

Makin' my way through the park back to Jimmy, all these things are goin' through my mind. Am I gonna say somethin'? Should I ask him to take me home? And I get to him, and he's all big-brown-puppy-dog eyes at me and smiles. 'Baby, I missed your lips on mine, bring those back over here and remind me what they taste like' and for some reason, which I still can't figure out, I sit down beside him and lean in for a kiss. Which leads to his hands makin' their way up my shirt and into my bra. I know I shouldn't be doin' it, but I've crushed on the guy since middle school. And what he can do with his tongue? F'get about it.

Things are gettin' crazy outta hand, and I hear people around me, chantin', 'Go! Get to third base! Get it! Get it!' and my heart is racin' somethin' fierce.

That's when it happens. Seein' movement from the corner of my eye, I tear myself away from Jimmy's wet lips. I jump up outta my seat, lungin' for the object comin' at me. It hits my hands hard and fast, and stings like a bitch.

Lookin' down, I could hardly believe it. Alex Rodriguez's home run ball. At Yankee Stadium. I caught it. No freakin' way.

It was awesome.

I was so excited to get Alex's autograph, I couldn't think about anything else that night. Not even Jimmy Marino.

Why? What'd you think I caught?

Monday, August 27, 2012

August…you sucketh. From Sookie in fairyland to my manuscript in queryland.

Monday Mash Up.

Let's see. Three things are on my mind. Okay, way more than three, but three is the magic number. At least that's what Blind Melon says. The things on my mind will be blogged about in no particular order.

First, True Blood. Last night's season finale was pretty decent. Brought back some things I have been sorely missing. Lots of sex and nakedness. Because it isn’t True Blood if this is missing. And this show hasn’t been True Blood for some time. YKWIM? Also, we had the return of Tara's love for other females. Good to see at least the writing is consistent. I mean, come on…it was pretty obvious that Tara had a thing for Pam. Pam is pretty hot. (She is actually one of my faves next to Lafayette and Arlene.) We also had the return of the true death…true dat. Was awesome. Haven't seen that much gelatinous goop since middle school. The sound effects alone last night were priceless.

But the best thing about last night's episode was undoubtedly the return of (pitter patter sigh) Erik to Bon Temps. When he looked at Sookie…my word. I just love him. Like…really love him. He is vampire perfection. Screw Edward. Erik would wrap him up and eat him like a sandwich. I would pay to see that. And Sookie could kick Bella's ass and stake her in a nanosecond. I would pay more to see that.

Erik came to get Sookie to help save Bill. (Does anyone else have a hard time not saying it like Beee-yilll?) But Bill has just turned into the most evil asshole ever. Talk about character turnaround. Are you kidding me? I mean, I get character arcs and all, but he may have just jumped the shark. Or the coffin, so to speak. When he bared those creepy lion fangs at Sookie…I was screaming along with Erik. RUN! But we all know there is no human that can run from a fanger. Nope. No way. Her little fairy powers better come up with something, because Bill is comin' after her and it ain't for her fried chicken. It was a really great episode. Worth watching the fifth season of crap for this one epi alone.

cartoons,disappointed,emotions,heartbroken,lonely,love,mailboxes,Screen Beans®,people,communicationsSecond, I never was a big fan of Robert Pattinson, but now I love the guy. Kristen Stewart is a trashy tramp who is so emo I want to barf. Hate her.

Even worse…Emily Maynard! WHAT ARE YOU DOING? America loved you…and now you have just beaten down the coolest hipster in town. Seriously? Jef is an amazing catch. I really thought this one would work out. Nope. She just had to sext with another guy. Incredibly disappointing. I have nothing more to say. Except when does the next Bachelor start?

Asia,nature,Thailand,tropical islands,water,clear,ripples,calm,sea,destinations,leisureThird, this month has been bad in writing land. Like really bad. Like I had a great feeling going into August, then BAM…all went silent in query land. No bites. No nibbles. Not even a form rejection. I find myself wondering what the heck is happening here? Where are all the agents? Is there some big LOST island they are on, running from smoke monsters and traveling back and forth in time? (hey, that might just be a great story!) Seriously, it has been bad. I can't wait for September. Maybe I will query more this week in prep for it.

I have started my new Young Adult MS Speechless, and I'm really excited about it. But I can't get my first MS out of my mind. Or heart
Last week I joined a really great bunch of ladies in a beta/critique group in which we all exchanged the first three chapters. So, I dusted off my MS and sent it out. Got great feedback. She said it was a page turner. Then this weekend, while on a last trip of the summer girls' weekend, I let a girlfriend read it (The Princess Paradox), and she was two thirds of the way through it in a day. She was obsessed with reading it. So, I went back and re-read some of it. And you know what. It's good.'s funny and charming and romantic. I have heard from several readers that commented how it "read like a movie".

I know some writers look back at their first work and say, "this is awful, I can't believe I wrote this crap". But I can't say that. Honestly.

And I'm not being stupid or naïve. It's good. Every time I read it, I can't believe I wrote it. Every beta reader comes back and says they love it. These people don’t know me. They aren’t my friends. Yet still, they say they can see it published. So, why…oh why…can't an agent see the same? I don’t get it.

This story simply must be told. I'm playing around with options.

Indie publish.
Self publish.
Put it up for free here to build readership. Perhaps put first three chapters to see if others would ask for more.

I am not defeated. Not yet. I will keep trying. I have to. The more I get knocked down, the more I want to fight back. Cue Rocky music.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I'm On Vacation...From My Problems!

Baby steps to the door. Baby steps to the car. Baby steps to the plane. Baby steps back to the computer.

View details It's been a crazy whirlwind of events in my life lately. For one, I went on a cruise with the fam. It was nice. Lots of ice. (yes, the rhyme was intentional) Saw some glaciers and some small Podunk towns in Alaska. Actually, as a writer I was inspired by the unique and quiet towns in Alaska. Specifically Ketchikan. There were these old craftsman houses that dotted the hills, with long wooden staircases leading up to their brightly colored doors. Downtown neighbored the docks, so while walking around looking at the cute little trinket shops, one could hear the seagulls calling along with the gentle lapping of the waves upon the wooden docks. I could just imagine stories "happening" here.

Which kind of leads me to todays post. The more I think of myself as a writer, and believe me it still feels weird to say because Alli Condie is a writer, JK Rowling is a writer, Dan Brown is a writer…not me, the more I see the stories in the every day things I do. I found myself on the cruise thinking, there's gotta be a story about a boy who meets a girl on a cruise, become close friends, and meet back on the boat coincidentally ten years later, only to fall in love.

Plane landing during a sunsetOn the plane to Denver I imagined a businessman who flies back and forth across the country and a stewardess who flirt back and forth, kind of having a crush on each other but in love more with the idea of how exciting it could be and have to come to terms with the reality of their "relationship" when they bump into each other in one of the cities they fly to…a love affair begins but what happens after that?

I also thought about a friend I had in high school, whom I adored, but had some serious addiction problems. She was addicted to anything you could be addicted to: sex, attention, cocaine, pot, alcohol, prescription pills, cigarettes, bad boys…you name it. And the story which I could easily write because I lived it is what to do when you are the enabler, the friend who thinks she is trying to help but should really be out the door. The lesson learned when you have to say "I can't help you if you don't want to be helped." Which is precisely what I had to do, but only after 5 years of putting up with shit from her, letting my teen life slip away because I had to be her parent as well as her friend, the resentment that builds and the reality that I have to take responsibility for what happened, because I should have left.

View detailsSo, why the sad story? Just to say as a writer, inspiration is everywhere. Everyone has a story. That's what makes writing and reading so amazing. We all live out our own plots, conflicts, and learn our life lessons. I have now gotten to the point, thanks to some amazing people I like to call writer friends, that I need to get a notebook, jot all my ideas down, then work on the story I am trying to write at that moment, leaving all the other ideas for later. That is what a writer is. That is what a writer does.

If you are stuck and want to write but don’t know how to start, try this: what big things have happened to you? What are YOUR stories that just have to be told? As you walk around and go about your day, listen to your world. What stories are being told? Can you add a what if?

 For example, what if an Olympic diver who waited his whole life for the Olympics, risked everything to be there, then…at the moment he needed to do his best, he failed? Not only failed, but like got all zeroes failed? And back flopped. Which most people didn't even realize was possible. See? Interesting story. And…it happened. Poor guy. But you see, stories are waiting everywhere to be told.

 Look between the nooks and crannies of life, there it is. A gem. A nugget of greatness.
 Be inspired.
 I know I am.