Writing: Part 4

Short Speculative Fiction

I opened a rejection letter yesterday; they don’t come as often as they once did, but they still sting. I’ve become abnormally good at almost getting published, so I usually get the “we loved it and you’re on the short list” letters, which I like to refer to as “eventual rejections,” and I get a flat out “yes we’ll take it, here’s your ten bucks” once or twice a year. But the main reason I receive fewer rejection letters is the fact that I’ve chosen to self-publish and post most of my work on this blog… See how I made it sound like a choice? That was me trying to make you think that I could go the traditional route if I wanted to because publishers are constantly kissing my ass. Spoiler alert, they’re not.

Anywho, most of the publications from which I’ve received rejection letters have fewer subscribers than this blog. The truth is that I get more exposure this way; I only make the occasional submission to a third party because I crave the validation. Yes, it hurts like a bitch when some magazine with thirty regular readers says “thanks, but no thanks,” but it’s nearly orgasmic when they say yes.

It’s gotten to the point when even if I receive a rejection letter, the editor always sends a nicely written note with a few critiques and a reason for the rejection. This last one said that “the story felt rushed” but that they loved my style, and that I should submit again ASAP if I had something written in a slower pace. Actually, it was a damn good critique. I reread my piece and came to the same conclusion. But here’s the bitch: this particular publication has a five-hundred word limit for submissions. Holy shit.

“They” say that the hardest part in writing a good short story is keeping it short, and “they” are damn right. How the hell is one supposed to tell a story, with a clear beginning, middle, and end, complete with believable character development, in five-hundred fucking words? Of course it’s going to come across as rushed.

The trick, I’ve been told, is to boil it down until all you have left is unalloyed story. There’s no room for maudlin prose or overly descriptive bullshit. One must rely on simple fiction and pure plot to be a successful short story writer, and according to my most recent rejection letter, I don’t always pull it off.

Another thing that “they” have been saying is that “the short story is dead.” I can see where they’re coming from, but I’d like to think that short fiction is simply resting in a lull of sorts because the full length novel is just so damn trendy. I might be full of shit, but whatever. Honestly, I enjoy short fiction, and I absolutely love collections of short fiction. I might be a bit solivagant in this love, but so be it. Short stories are like perfect little vignettes of make-believe into which a reader can delve briefly without commitment. And collections are even better because if you start into a story that doesn’t feel right, you can always move onto the next piece. I don’t want you to think that I’m promoting a short attention span, it’s just that every once in a while, a trip to the buffet is better than a single entre meal. Get it? That’s why I’ve decided to dedicate the fourth segment of this look into burgeoning authors to writers of short, speculative fiction.

***

The first author I’ve chosen to feature is Rob Walker.

Robert Walker

He’s a writer and filmmaker living in Colorado. Rob is perhaps best known for “Victorian Cut-out Theatre”, an animated comedy series featuring monsters, deranged billionaires and time travel which is distributed through Cinevore.com. He also writes for the pop culture website Nerd Reactor. You can read his blog at www.robwalkerfilms.com

WEBSITE: www.robwalkerfilms.com

FACEBOOK: facebook.com/robwalkerfilms

YOUTUBE: youtube.com/robwalkerfilms

TWITTER: @timidwerewolf

The House on Maple Street

In a normal state, in an average town, on Maple Street, there was a house. The house was guarded over by two long dead trees. These trees, being long dead, had no leaves. In place of greenery, however, there were several crows. So many crows, in fact, that if you were to view the house on Maple Street from a distance, you would swear that these strange trees were in full bloom. But you’d be wrong.

If anyone had ever taken the time to measure the inside of the house on Maple Street, they would have found that it was a foot bigger on the inside than it was on the outside. That sounds impossible, but it’s true. And contained within the house were twelve rooms, one for every month of the year. Thirteen including the cellar, but no one ever did.

The house on Maple Street had been designed by Edward Clemmins in 1928, for George and Emily Bryant. Clemmins was considered a genius by many of his contemporaries and was responsible for designing the bakery in New York that looks like an elephant… you know the one.

Shortly after finishing his plans for the house on Maple Street, Clemmins shot himself in the head. They say that he knew that this house was cursed from the beginning and couldn’t live with the knowledge that he would be responsible for such a place. I think maybe he was just sad.

George and Emily Bryant moved in upon the completion of the house, and set to creating a family. After a year in the house they bore no children, and soon Emily disappeared. Many thought that Emily left George in the middle of the night to avoid the shame of a public divorce. Neighborhood children thought that George had murdered his wife and hid her body in the cellar. Nothing was ever proven. Before hanging himself in their bedroom, George wrote a note with one word on it: “Whispers”.

George might have been referring to the stories told behind his back after his wife’s disappearance. However, his friends say that before his demise, he complained about hearing Emily’s voice echoing throughout the house, like she was close, but he could never find her.

The house sat empty and had no visitors until 1930, when famous spiritualist Madame Devoe paid the house a visit, to cleanse it of what she called “disquieted spirits”. This visit lasted fifteen minutes before Madame Devoe was stricken blind. She retired from spiritualism shortly after. Though blind, she led a relatively happy life with her daughter in Florida until her death in 1975.

As so often happens with buildings of similar reputation as the house on Maple Street, local children would often dare each other to go inside, or at the very least knock on the door. One such event happened in 1963 when ten year old Jimmy Boyd entered the house on a dare. By many accounts, he was the bravest of the children. Five minutes later he emerged claiming that a beautiful woman that lived in the house offered him cookies if he would stay with her for a bit. After three weeks, Jimmy’s raven colored hair had turned white. This extreme and early change in hair color earned him the nickname “snow-top”. If you find him, ask him about the woman. He’ll be more willing to talk if you bring him a plate of macaroons.

Over the years, the people in town thought of tearing down the house on Maple Street. Everyone agreed that it was unpleasant to look at, and no one could ever sell it given the history. Town officials never did tear it down, though. So it still sits on its yard, all twelve rooms, well unless you count the cellar. Guarded by two long dead trees and several flocks of crows. A group of crows is called a murder by the way, I wasn’t sure if you knew that, but it’s true.

***

The second author I’m featuring is KendallJaye Collard:

Kendall Jaye Collard

“I live in Springfield, IL with my husband and daughter. I am in an unhealthy relationship with a 1967 4-door Chevy Impala hardtop. Cancer survivor, wine drinker, and protected by rock salt.

I can be reached at kendalljaye.collard@gmail.com and can be found lurking around Twitter @KJCollard.”

Failure No. 12

I’m all groggy. Something smells like industry. Something metallic. Like iron.

I realize it’s blood.

I sit up and try to open my eyes. It’s blindingly white. Like a million watt light bulb pointed directly into my eyes. My head should hurt but it doesn’t. What the fuck happened to me?

I squint and try to open my eyes again. It’s still so very white, but it’s okay. The white isn’t from a light at all. The white just is. I’m so confused.

Then I realize I don’t just smell blood. I taste it.

I rake the back of my hand across my mouth. I look down to where my hand should be. There is nothing there but white.

Then ever so slowly, outlines happen. Nearly paper thin lines of black simply appear and grow. The outline of my hand. The outline of where blood is smeared across the back of my wrist. There’s not even a hint of color. It’s like a blank page with a few calligraphy pen marks. The lines of the liquid blood far thinner than the lines defining my hand. How strange.

CLICK Hello there. Do you know your name? CLICK

A voice. Where is it coming from? I look around, and white things start to come into focus. Black outlines defining a ceiling corner. The walls. The chaise I’m lying on. But there is no shading. No colors.

“Hello?”

CLICK Hello. Can you hear me? CLICK

“Yes, I……”

CLICK Do you know your name? CLICK

“Yes. But… who…”

CLICK Just answer the questions for now ma’am. Everything will be answered in due time. What is your name, ma’am? CLICK

“My name is Cawks. Where am I?”

CLICK You’re very safe. Glad to meet you Cawks. My name is Beeks. Do you know where you are from? CLICK

My head should hurt. I’m bleeding. Why doesn’t it hurt? “Um… No. I can’t… recall.” More lines materialize breaking the monotony of white. This is an interrogation room. A pane of glass on the far wall. I sit up on the chaise and hang my feet over the edge. The velvety touch of the fabric tickles my fingertips. But it just looks white. I look across the room and notice a table being drawn before my eyes.

CLICK Where are you from Cawks? CLICK

“I said I don’t know. What’s going on here?” I stand up and trust that a textureless floor will support my weight. But why wouldn’t it? The chaise did. And the floor responds in kind. It’s cold on the pads of my feet. My bare feet.

I look down at myself for the first time and see more than just my blood smeared hand. I see the outline of feet, legs, arms. All the normal human body parts. I realize I am naked. The outline of the tiny vent in the corner breathes a sigh and the rush of chilled air goes across my skin. I feel panic rising.

“Beeks, where are my clothes?”

CLICK Cawks, I need you to go over to the table for me. CLICK

I look back again at the table. I walk across the floor. My feet go one in front of the other. The table inches closer, and the chaise moves farther away. All still white. I see the outline of the speaker come into view. Beeks.

On the table is an assortment of weapons. Their outlines are familiar to me. But I’ve never held a weapon. Why can’t I remember where I’m from?

CLICK Cawks, I need you to pick up the one you like best. CLICK

My eyes roam the table. So many to choose. “Which one?”

CLICK The one that suits you. CLICK

I let my eyes roam over their forms. Pistols. Rifles. Slingshots. Knives. My eyes stop at the longbow. I cock my head to the right. Suddenly I smell the wood and the oils used in it. “The Bow, Beeks. I like the bow. Can I hold it?”

CLICK Of course Cawks. It’s yours, after all. CLICK

I gingerly lift the strange white bow. It is firm in my hand. It feels like it should. Even though there is no wood grain to identify it, it feels familiar. Comforting. The outline of the bowstring somewhat thinner than the hard outline of the bow itself. There are no arrows here, but I snuggle the grip deep into my left hand. I hold it as if to take aim. I pull the nocking point back across my cheek. It feels like home.

“Beeks, why are there no colors?”

CLICK What do you mean? CLICK

“It’s like a blank sheet of paper. Like someone is using a pen or charcoal to draw lines. There are no shades or colors. I can only feel the textures.” I release the bowstring as I exhale.

A sudden crushing. My chest. I can’t breathe. “Beeks?” I drop my best friend on the ground. I grab at my chest. “BEEKS!”

No response.

“BEEEEEKS! I CAN’T BREATHE!”

Nothing.

My eyes fall on the chaise. I stumble my way there and fall heavily upon it.

Just a nap. That’s what I need. Just close my eyes. Just a little sleep.

Then darkness.

***

Somewhere in the United States three scientists continued their conversation.

“Cracking job on the tits, Reeve.”

“Thanks, Jude. I’m kind of an expert,” she replied as she crassly grabbed her own. “Sorry about the optics being off. Bummer man.”

“It’s okay. I’m really close. There’s a blood leak on start up, too. And Beeks hasn’t quite mastered the memory implants anyhow.”

Beeks shook his head. “Can’t stop until She’s perfect. Then we’ll make a million more of Her. Hated putting Her down though. You’d think it would get easier.”

Reeve slapped him on the back. “C’mon. Let’s go get lunch. We can clean up the mess when we get back.”

The three scientists laughed heartily and headed out the door.

Writing: Part 3

Book Hoarder

Escapist Literature

I walked into the Southwest Book Trader and was nearly knocked on my ass by the smell of one hundred thousand used books; they were stacked everywhere. That many books seem to sweat when they’re all in one place. They create a musk of their own that wraps around you like a musty trench coat. The Southwest Book Trader is an old house in downtown Durango, Colorado that’s been converted into a used bookstore, but it’s a bit more than that. I walked through the rooms looking for an old book by David Eddings, and it took almost a half hour to find it. But the fact that they had an old first edition, with yellowed and dog eared pages, is a testament to the depth of selection through which I swam. I’m not a big man, and I barely fit between the overflowing bookcases and pyramids of print. I laughed at one point, after I realized I was in what used to be the kitchen, because I could see the kitchen sink faucet protruding out from a stack of books on politics. I checked the price on my first edition, two whole dollars, and then walked up front to find the owner.

I found him up front wearing a fly fishing vest and a hat that would’ve made Indiana Jones jealous. He was in his late fifties and sitting at the cash register. I could only see his head and part of his torso because books were stacked all around him; it was like he had built a fort out of paperbacks. He didn’t look up so I spoke first. Our conversation went a bit like this:

Me: “Damn. This is one hell of a cool collection.”

Him: “No it’s not. I have a warehouse that’s filled to the ceiling. I have over one million books and it’s a sickness. Don’t compliment something you don’t understand.”

Me: “…”

Him: “Did you find what you were looking for?”

I reached over the moat of his book fort and handed him my Eddings first edition. We started talking. The conversation ended up lasting for an hour. I told him that I was a published author and shared a few of my more malcontented opinions vis-à-vis fifty shades of bullshit and sparkly vampires, and we became friends. This man who hoards books and doesn’t make eye contact is one of my new favorite people.

My only caveat with the whole experience is that when he looked at the book I was buying, he smirked and said something under his breath about “escapist literature.” He said that he had read everything in the realm of SciFi and Fantasy until his late teens, and then he had turned his back on the genre. He gave up on escapist literature and has only read nonfiction since.

In case you’re wondering, “escapist literature” is a style of writing, usually centered on alternate realities chock-full of swords and sorcery, into which a reader can submerge themselves thereby escaping from reality. Frankly, I’ve never read any fiction that didn’t offer a bit of escapism, but whatever; that’s an argument for a different time.

Have you ever wondered why nerds delve so deeply into their interests? Have you ever wondered why there are scores of fans who bounce from convention to convention in a never ending nerdgasm? I’ve met a few that escape so entirely from reality via fandom that they’re fluent in Klingon. Seriously; they actually speak the shit. And I get it. They’ve found this different universe that accepts them as loyal fans. They can read book after book that glorify outcast protagonists who can defeat the bullies of the world with wizardry. In these books of escapist literature, it doesn’t matter if you’re portly or pallid or a pariah walking amongst the pretty people; if they fuck with you, you could always conjure a ball of fire or set your ray gun to stun and deal with the bastards.

I like to tell myself that I like escapist literature for a different reason. You know, it’s because I have an acute imagination. It’s because I read these books and fully create these universes in my mind and simply enjoy them as an observer. Yeah, that’s it. It has nothing to do with the fact that they help me separate myself from a nearly debilitating anxiety that dogs my steps like a shadow. I swear. And who knows, maybe my new favorite person who hoards books and doesn’t make eye contact came to grips with his need for escapist literature at a young age. Maybe he was ashamed of that need, and then threw himself into nonfiction and warehouses filled to the rafters with other people’s writing. I don’t know. But I do know that I’m not a huge fan of nonfiction. It’s usually depressing and ugly, and it usually brings me right back to that place from which I was originally trying to escape: reality.

***

The first author I’ve chosen to feature in this third segment is Brian Sanner. He’s a badass scientist who’s currently working on his PhD so he can someday build a bionic suit that’ll allow him to shoot lightning out of his hands. Honestly.

Brian Sanner

Showdown

When the wind shivered through the trees, their limbs rattled like the bones of the watchmen huddled against the gatehouse wall. Winter is a miserable time to wear armor. The metal inhales the cold and breathes it back more intense than before. Layers of leather and fur help at first exposure, but the cold is insidious and constant and without end. It twists and tickles its way through the layers and sets there, solidly, like a press.

On a night like this, when breath steamed and frosted in beards, it was no wonder the guards stayed close to their torches, spears propped against the palisade while they hid their hands beneath crude cloaks of stitched animal hide.

The wind sighed again, sliding layers of dry snow crystals over the hard, icy roadway beneath.  This road led west,
along the windswept hills that, in the warmer seasons, would be populated by scraggly tufts of grass and jagged rock, home to the small creatures that burrowed in such, and the larger that preyed upon them. Men were few and scattered in those hills. The land was too poor for those with honest intentions to bother. The hills were home to jackals and highwaymen, and there was little to tell the two apart.

The building was nothing more than a trading post. A pit stop along the road. Far enough out that most would stop here. Miserable enough that they would soon move on. There was not much to be had here, but here was a place that anything was worth having. Close enough to nowhere that even a ramshackle roof was better than none, and a stout wall between a man and the darkness was a welcome relief.

This night was too cold for highwaymen or peddlers either one. So why have two guards on the gate of a six-foot palisade that a half-dozen determined men could overcome in an hour?

***

The second author I’ve chosen to feature is Mary A. Fox. She lives in England, with her husband and her four children. She is an avid reader who started writing her own stories when she was twelve years old, inspired by a middle school teacher who ran writing workshops. Most of Mary’s stories are set on the wild Atlantic North coast of the picturesque county, Cornwall, in the South-West of the UK. Mary is the author of five novels in the Porth Kerensa series and a handful of flash fiction stories. Her work can be found on www.wattpad.com/mezmerised

Mary A Fox

The Running Girl

Back home they called me the running girl. Some of them called me Forrest, but mostly I was known as the running girl. When I ran past them every evening some cheered me and some jeered me. None of them asked me my name and no one cared why I ran, which suited me fine. After a while they didn’t even notice me anymore. I became part of the background. I was invisible to them.

One day I disappeared altogether.

I often wondered, on my frequent attempts to get back, if any of them ever noticed my disappearance. If eventually, somebody said, “What do you think happened to the running girl? Where do you think she went?”

They won’t believe me if I make it home and tell people what happened to me. They will look at me as if I am crazy and probably lock me up in a padded cell.

Anyway it’s a moot point because I can’t find my way back. Lord knows, I’ve tried.

I was running and I stumbled. My toe caught in a pothole as I jogged up the coast road and I fell. But it wasn’t a simple fall. It was as if something reached through a rip in time and space and pulled me from my reality into theirs. The air around me shimmered, crackled and sizzled. The oxygen seemed to be dragged from my lungs and the brightest light I’ve ever seen dazzled me as I sprawled headlong into the unrelenting darkness behind the light.

And I screamed.

I could try and document the months after my fall, but I’m not a wordsmith and I don’t have the vocabulary to tell you how confused and lost I felt for a long time afterwards. It took me months to truly believe I was irreversibly trapped out of my own time and reality. I spent every day looking for my way back, but I couldn’t find it. It was as if whatever had ripped a wound in the fabric of the world healed instantly behind me, leaving me stranded.

I am a visitor from the future, living before my lifetime.

David doesn’t like it when I call myself a visitor. He says I have been here for two years and I should accept that it’s my home now. We don’t talk much about where I came from and we’ve never told anyone else that I literally fell out of thin air into his arms. He told the villagers he found me on the beach, unconscious and washed up from a shipwreck, and he rescued me. Sometimes I wonder if he pretends to himself that’s what really happened, simply to retain some sanity. Has he convinced himself that I truly am flotsam?

He told me once that he used to walk the coast road every night in the hope he would see me, the shimmering ghostly woman who haunted the road he lived on, running with the wind streaming through my long brown hair. He said I shone when I ran; that I was translucent like a beautiful wild running spirit and he couldn’t get me out of his mind. He said I captivated him and every night, when he watched me, he wished that I was real, until one day I was. I told him he sounded mad.

He said, “You’re convinced you’re from 2006, and I watched a ghost appear solid and real out of thin air. We’re both mad.”

Then he made love to me again.

I ran every evening for the first two years, desperately trying to find the way back to my own time. I retraced my steps until I thought it really would drive me mad as I  hopelessly searched for the time chasm I had fallen through. I wept when I ran and David stood, in our small garden, watching me jog and cry. He stood with tears in his own eyes, waiting for me to come back and when I was too tired to run anymore he would wrap his mother’s shawl around my shoulders and lead me gently indoors.

He soothed me and he cared for me. He adored me and one day I realised I had fallen again.

David is kind and gentle. He loves me and he keeps me safe and calm in a world I still don’t feel a part of, despite the passing of the years. He’s even asked me to marry him. Maybe he thinks it will be enough to give me some ties here. Perhaps he hopes it will stop me trying to run away from here. I lost myself in

1849 and I found the love of my life.

But will it be enough?

I suppose one day soon I’ll marry him. Especially when I tell him I’m going to have our baby. I should tell him, but I still haven’t got my own head around it. I’m going to have a child over one hundred years before I’ve even been born. Perhaps I will name our child Paradox.

It’s unlikely now that I’ll ever go back, even if I found a way. David found the only way to stop me running.

But until he knows, I’ll carry on with my lonely jogging up the coast road still looking for my way home; running forever, like a DVD left on repeat.

The villagers call me the running girl. They don’t know why I run and they don’t care. David cares though. David cares too much; he always has. Sometimes I look at him and I believe his obsession with the shimmering, running spirit girl he watched every night is what pulled me here in the first place. He calls it Fate…something that was meant to be because it transcended time. I think his yearning for the ghostly girl grew so strong that he managed to drag me across time and space into his own reality.

I think he believes it too.

I still run sometimes. When David is working out in the fields and our daughter, Anne sleeps. I don’t run for very long though, and I tell myself I’m only keeping fit.

This is my home now.

Kim shook her head at Regan’s suggestion they walk home. “The coast road is haunted. There’s no way I’m walking up there at this time of night.”

“What are you talking about?” Regan scoffed, laughing. “I don’t believe in ghosts.”

“Ever since that girl disappeared into thin air, people have seen her running along the road she went missing on,” Kim replied seriously. “Don’t you remember it? About seven years ago a jogger vanished. They say she haunts that stretch of road between Padstow and Porth Kerensa and now she’s doomed to jog down the lonely coast road forever more.”

Emmy smiled at Kim. “You know there hasn’t been a sighting for a couple of years now.” She sighed. “Poor girl, no one ever found out what happened to her. It was as if she simply vanished from the face of the earth, never to be seen again.”

“Except for her ghost,” Kim replied, shivering.

“What was her name?” Regan was sombre now, feeling guilty that she had mocked Kim.

“I can’t remember her name,” Kim replied, sadly. “But the press called her The Running Girl.”

Writing: Part 2

Narrative Nonfiction

Thirty percent of all readers instantly contract narcolepsy when they hear the term “narrative nonfiction.” Seriously. Boredom erupts within their souls and they immediately pass out due to an overdose of dry non-excitement. The term has always made me think of Abraham Lincoln for some reason. I hear “narrative nonfiction” and my mind conjures scenes of antiquity which play out through a sepia tone filter wherein everybody is old and insipid and boring as fuck. But if you do it right, if you paint with humor and refuse to pull punches, narrative nonfiction can be an art. It can be something that draws out emotion and holds it up in a painful or loving light. It can be something better than fiction even though pretend worlds come complete with space ships and ray guns, because this life, this narrative nonfiction that’s ugly, perfect, and always around us, is more captivating than any amount of made-up bullshit. You just have to know how to write it, to make it stick to your paper, and how to make it captivating enough to keep the spread of narcolepsy under control.

I want to write fiction. I want to spawn characters with which you can identify. And then I want a rich old Jew to buy the rights and make a movie or three and I want ten percent; that comes out to roughly forty-five million dollars. But lately, my fans (and yes, that was plural) have been telling me that my narrative nonfiction is far better than my fiction. I say thank you, but I flip them off as soon as they turn around. Do you have any idea how much money one can make writing stories about what actually happens? Neither do I, but I’m pretty sure it’s not forty-five million dollars. Whatever. But I do love it. There’s something liberating underneath all of it. I’ve written about dark times in my life, and when the strangers impart their compliments, it’s like they’re saying “Hey, thanks for experiencing that for us. Everything’s okay now.” It feels awesome. Ergo, I’ve decided to dedicate “part 2” to narrative nonfiction writers… wake up.

In my first segment, I said that I was going to focus on writers that’d never published anything so I could give them that proverbial kick in the ass to get up, get out, and get something (Outkast is the best rap group of all time) but I’m not going that route in this segment. I wasn’t able to find any latent nonfiction writers who hadn’t posted anything, and frankly, both of the writers in this segment are ridiculously good so I’m changing shit up. I don’t think these two have sold anything and they’re not “famous” (mostly because people demand sparkly vampires these days) so there’s that; my restrictions for “burgeoning writer” have been met. And I’m excited as hell to feature these two on my blog; both of these writers will eventually find some degree of success because they’ve got crazy talent. Each of them has that ability to observe the quotidian, and then transform what they see into insightful prose. This is another one of those “I found them first” moments.

***

The first writer in is Audrey Farnsworth; she has this crazy ability to boil down an experience into pure comedy. Most writers use “funny” as a condiment, but Farnsworth makes it the entree.

Audrey Farnsworth

Bio: “Audrey Farnsworth is a comedian and writer currently in the midst of moving from her hometown of Tempe, Arizona to Los Angeles, which is terrifying to her. She’s been a director and member of several sketch comedy groups. She does stand up. She writes about things wearing hats that probably wouldn’t, normally. She hopes to succeed in her comedic endeavors. Time will tell.”

Website: http://audipenny.blogspot.com/

Twitter: @audipenny

Doctor Visit

Going to the doctor can be very nerve-wrecking. You’ve got a problem, you know you have a problem, but once you’re sitting in that little room all by yourself, you start to get into your own head, perhaps forget your own name, and by the time the doctor actually enters the room, you forget completely why you’re there in the first place, as well as any and every question you wanted to ask.

That’s why it is important to make a list of questions beforehand. Don’t be embarrassed – a lot of people do this, and the doctors are used to it because they get it all the time. How are you supposed to remember a bunch of questions and also your name and how to walk and breathe? That’s absurd.

Even if it’s only a yearly checkup, it’s important to ask questions. What are good questions to ask anyways, you may be wondering? Listed below are some more important examples.

– At what age should I begin regularly exercising?
– What time should one stop eating at night, as not to gain weight?
– What does a beak feel like?
– Am I a healthy weight for my height?
– Is there such a thing as a goat, really?
– What is “3?”
– How many times is too many times for someone to accidentally pee on your own stove?
– If it’s over 6 feet, is it still considered a candle, or is that a torch?
– How do you know if you’re Bret Micheals?
– What attracts ghosts? Tomatoes?
– Sometimes I think my hands are tambourines?
– If you see a wolf, and are not filled with fear, are you a wolf now?
– Are these really called “hands,” or is there a better name for them?
– If my boss asks me to tuck in my shirt, and I don’t want to, so I cut off both of my legs, will my insurance cover it?
– Is there an actual function for glasses, or are they just necklaces for your eyes?
– What do you do if you can’t find your house? Go to someone else’s?
– How do you know if there is an eel living in your brain? Will he tell you, or do you have to guess?
– Are my parents actual pigeons, or did I dream that?
– Is there a Soft Rock Cafe?
– When is it O.K. to vacuum a stranger?
– Can you be allergic to the word “hatch?”
– Are pine cones Easter eggs that have “gone rogue?”
– Is hair loss genetic?
– Is having a stomach that is inside genetic?
– Are tubas actually just recordings of sad whales?
– Can someone actually be born wearing a hat?
– Are cars with blue tinted headlights only driven by angels?
– What is the average age of a healthy human being?
– What do you do if someone reacts negatively to the collage you made of their dad?
– What to do if you ask someone “How are you?” but they ask you at the same time? Move in together?
– Has anyone invented ham cake yet? Can I invent it? Can you?
– Is a chaplain just another name for a magician, but a funny one?
– Can you teach a falcon how to drive a car, and if not, can you please explain how I got here today?
– Does “CD” stand for “Burger Police?”
– How do I join the Burger Police? They accept humans, or just burgers?
– If I kill myself, could I choose to be reincarnated as a burger?
– Does a platypus know how fucking stupid as shit it looks?
– Heads… what are they, really?
– If you throw up a whole microwave, can you return it to a store, without a receipt?
– What is a receipt?
– What is a microwave?
– How many moms are loitering outside of any given Red Robin, right now, or ever?
– Can pants be shirts?
– The hell’s a “vest?” A car? Is it like a Jeep?
– Jeeps aren’t actually real, are they?
– So, who’s all a ghost here, in this office? The ones with clipboards?
– Do you like your mouth? I’m not sure if I like mine much?
– Will you tattoo an actual taco to my mouth, right now?
– What are the signs of diabetes?
– I’m 85% positive that one of my arms is a flute? Can you try playing it?
– Can my bathroom be my boyfriend?
– If I plug my ears long enough, will they just get off my head, already????
– Can I open up a Mervyn’s, inside of my heart?
– Is climbing inside of the pants you are currently wearing an appropriate response to someone asking you on a date?
– Where can I hire models for my clothing brand who are actual buildings? Here?
– How many falcons do you know with masters degrees? All of them, or?
– Did you go to high school?
– What can guys who wear their sunglasses on the backs of their heads NOT do perfectly???
– *clicking sounds with questions marks at the end*

Obviously, this is just a template. Everyone is different. To your health, friends.

***

I chose to end this piece with this second writer, Ashley Byrd, because her writing left me with an odd feeling that lingers; I’d like it to stick with you when you go back to doing whatever it was you were doing before you started reading this. She shares her trials, and as a reader, it makes you feel a bit voyeuristic; we’re currently suffering through a paucity of writers who have the balls needed to pull that off.

Ashley Byrd

Bio: “I spent my teens and early twenties making mistakes. I spent my mid-twenties and late-twenties making up for those mistakes. Now, here I am, thirty and still a mess.

After two degrees and nearly eight years in the corporate world, I’m ready to start over. I’m ready to be free.

I’m ready to write.”

Website: http://byrdstheword.com/

Twitter: @Byrdfacekilla

 

so now i’m a serial killer

I was sitting on my porch the other night when my neighbors came home.  Now, we share a driveway so when they pulled up it was just three feet away from my face.  I couldn’t very well run inside because that would be rude, right? Running into your house when your next door neighbors have clearly spotted you is just plain impolite, right?  When they got out of the car we exchange some awkward “hello, yeah, it’s real dark out tonight, oh yeah because it’s nighttime” chit chat.  It probably wasn’t awkward for them as they are most likely normal human beings unlike myself.  I am a huge, awkward, babbling dork in any social situation with humans I’m not familiar with.

Example:

Standing around with new strangers I meet one night…

“HA! HA!.. yeah, like you probably have a big vagina. HA! HA! You know, because you have kids! HA! Ha!”

Others: “HA..ha…..ha.”

–in my head—oh God that wasn’t funny, be funny, be funny—

Cue I circle a big vagina in the air, step in say “Hi!” and step out.  You know, because I’m a huge talking vagina.

Me: “HA! Ha! Ha…ha. I’m totally kidding you know, I’ll bet you had a good episiotomy.  For sure your vagina is probably much nicer than mine.”

Others: –one by one slowly start to make conversion with other people around us and push me out of the circle where I stand going on, talking to myself.—

Because I can’t stop myself, because I’m a big, fucking unfiltered awkward shell of a once human being.

Hours later I see my newly-made friends and am like, “hey, yea, remember me, made the vagina joke earlier. Ha! Oh, you’re going over there? Oh yeah, yeah, I’m going to yeah, go just over here, yup.”It was a black tie wedding.

Anyway, as my neighbors walk towards their door I can hear the girlfriend say, “Did you get the water back on?” and her boyfriend reply, “No.”  I hear some moans of disappointment and/or disapproval from the female neighbor.  At this time, I’m a little buzzed, not intoxicated but a bit tipsy. So I decided it would be a GREAT idea to let them know “HEY! You can use my water! I have water here neighbor! If you want to use it or something, not with me of course but, yup. Water, over here, my place.”

I don’t say that of course, but I write them a note that goes a little something like this…

“HEY! It’s your neighbor! The girl next door. Listen, this may sound crazy, but I think you guys said something about not having water? Well, you are more than welcome to use mine.” Then I write my name and number, but before that I decide it would be a really smart idea to write at the very top of the note in capital letters, “I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER.”  Because I’m smart AND funny.  Surely, my neighbors whom I’ve met twice get my sense of humor. So I waddle over and tape the note to their door.

Let’s be clear, I can hear a roach from a mile away, but people are another story.  I really am a bit hard of hearing and unless you speak loudly and pronunciate, you can usually hear me say loudly to people “USE YOUR WORDS.”  I awake the next morning and realize this, I also realize that I was kind of intoxicated as well and MUST GET TO THAT FUCKING LETTER A-SAP.

It’s 7:00am, their car has not been touched, maybe haven’t left the house yet.  I run to the kitchen, peer out the window and the letter is fucking gone. It’s gone. I start playing a scenario in my head as to what is going through their head, “She’s so sweet. What a good neighbor. Was that bitch coming on to you? What a freak!” Stuff like that.  Then I also start to think that maybe they never even got the letter.  They usually leave work after me; they couldn’t have gotten the letter? It did rain a little last night, did it blow away? Then I decided to just let it be; after consulting with some friends, they assured me it was a sweet gesture and my neighbors will probably call and thank me.  I have come home several evenings expecting a handwritten thank you card.

It’s been two weeks.  I still have no idea if they intercepted my serial killer letter.

Writing

Part One: Two Poets

I once wrote for myself. My prose was quiet and closeted at best. In honesty, my writing was arrogant and cumbersome. I took my thoughts and forced them into words; my first drafts were belabored pieces of shit, but I liked them. It felt good. And at the time, that was all that mattered. I called myself a writer, but only because I wrote when nobody was looking. The thought of sharing my work petrified my soul. I would’ve rather posed as one of those full-frontal nudes for a beginner’s portrait class than to share my nonsensical ramblings.

But then I got over it. I realized that my proclivity towards reclusive writing was worse than useless. My fear was bullshit. I tried, and then tried harder to come up with something that a stranger might enjoy. I started writing short stories, leaning heavily on crutches made from artifice, and then I shared my work. Friends and family read it first, and then I went so far as to contact agents and publishers. I wasn’t taken seriously. The amount of praise that came from my friends could be graphed as a direct function of their sobriety. My family said that they loved everything, but these were the same people that put my finger paintings on the refrigerator. The agents and publishers ignored me via blanket rejection letters. So I tried harder, and I hired an editor.

Her name was Catherine, and I’m still writing because of her help. Actually, “help” isn’t really the word for it; maybe “tutelage” or “mentorship” or “patient ability to mold my idiocy into something legible” would be more fitting. Either way, I started to grow. The blanket rejection letters turned into personalized critiques from some of the best publications out there, and then finally, I got my first acceptance letter. It came from Tales of the Talisman a few years back, and I still have it locked in my safe. Hell, sometimes I take it out and cling to it as if it’s a lifesaver that’s keeping me afloat amongst the flotsam of all my failures.

I remember the day that my “contributor’s copy” of Tales of the Talisman arrived. I opened it, breathing in that pulpy smell of a new magazine, and then thumbed through it looking for my story. “Holy shit,” I thought as I found it, “they even commissioned a piece of artwork to go along with my writing!” It was a crude drawing, but I was honored. I received a ten dollar check with my first copy, but I felt like a gazillionaire because somebody paid me to write.

Since then, I’ve been published in other magazines and newspapers. I’ve put out a couple books. I’ve been paid for my work. I’ve been asked for critiques by authors who get paid real money to write. I’ve been on the back of books that one can buy in actual book stores. I might not be a “serious writer” yet, but I’m taken seriously by people who are, and it feels incredible. I love this art and I want it to be the foundation upon which I base my professional identity. Realistically, I’d say that I’m five years away from being a professional writer, and none of this would’ve happened without that first realization that my fear was bullshit. I took something that I wrote, I clicked “print,” and I handed it to a stranger. It was difficult, but it bore fruit.

I took my work to social media, because it seemed like the obvious step. I started a blog, and I logged on to Twitter even though I once said that I’d never do either; I’m now addicted to both. The “narrative nonfiction” I post on my blog is earning more accolades than any of my fiction. I have over four hundred diehard followers across the globe that religiously read everything I post, and I literally love them all.

However, Twitter was the impetus behind the post you’re reading right now. I’m not exactly sure how I did it, but I have close to fifty-thousand followers, and it’s taken me less than two years to get there. I always have my wife proof read these blogs before I post them, and I know for a fact that she’s slowly shaking her head as she’s reading this. It’s altogether possible that I’m addicted to Twitter, and she thinks I’m a bit childish about the whole thing (but only because I stare at my smart phone for hours at a time like an idiot). Anyway, a huge portion of my followers are fledgling writers, many of which have only been writing for themselves as I once did, so I decided to do something about it. I sent out a tweet asking newbie writers who’ve never been published to contact me. I offered my blog as that first place where they could share their work.

The response has been deafening. I had at least fifty writers try to take me up on my offer in the first hour after my tweet; I’m going to do my best to give a few of them the chance to put their work out there so they too can label their fear as bullshit. And I felt that fear in most of them; they’d preface their work with qualms like “this isn’t that good” or “I’ll send you something else if this sucks” but I’m not choosing what makes the cut. I’m going to pick ten authors at random, so long as I get an even mix of male and female, young and old, and then I’m going to publish the first work they submit. Most of these authors don’t have websites or blogs or any publication credits to their name, but that’s what I want. I want to foster their resolve; I want push them off the diving board.

These first two writers are poets. The first, Jordan, loves to write, and most often, she writes about love. Writing is important to her. Her first piece helped her through a time when her mother had breast cancer, which is something I went through as well, and her second piece is about love and pain, which we’ve all been through. The second writer, Michael, has a free flowing style that’s almost “stream of conscious;” he might be a beatnik. If you’re on Twitter, please follow both of these poets. And if you’d like to contact either writer directly, their emails are posted below.

Jordan N. Sullivan

Jordan N. Sullivan

Email: jordan.n.sullivan411@gmail.com

Twitter: @jordannburch

STRONG

Got my back against the wind,
as I walk I break and mend.
Learning the biggest lesson-without a miracle,
it would certainly end.
“Never give up,”
that’s what momma said, teary eyed fighting in a hospital bed.
At times she was weaker,
blankets covering her bare head.
So I made a deal
to keep her with me.
I prayed really hard
and let live or let be.
Somehow my prayer,
out of all that there are,
was heard from afar.
She taught me a lesson
not many can teach.
Handled my soul and places I couldn’t reach.
Her body was broken, but spirit un-breached.

HEART, LEARN.

A single tear softly fell.
Down the glowing cheek
And she felt broken.
have I ever seen her so alive,
Stripped down to her raw core.
He had broken the shell she used

As a protective wall crumbled,
Leaving her
Vulnerable
Open
She will find love again.
And this time she knows more.
This is where
her story actually began.

***

Michael Staruch

Michael Staruch

Email: promise.made.of.tin@gmail.com

Twitter: @_dibbuk_

Lust

I’m a casualty to lust, inflicted with this flesh, the burning embers I’m feeling will fade out like the rest. And another prince will arrive gallantly at the moat, wishing he thought more wisely, instead of a white horse, had brought a boat.

The Bar

Smoke filled space lacking grace, and voices rise to give orders to another trace. Alcohol hollowed races in my veins to displace another thought. This is my howl to the night life; this is my ode to the faded and jaded left fight, thirty-something’s sipping poison knowing their right. Searching for ambition and position in another lack luster sex spree, some men give it away for free, but me? But me? I want the divine everlasting sweetest spirit, slow dancing in the pivotal inspiration twenty-four karat soul. Crushing on shirtless bartenders won’t get you tender unless you spend your life savings on an induced fender bender. Silver is the tongue, golden in his smile while the tips last awhile, he forgets your name. The song plays cycle in circles this tired malaise, bearing witness to the sexual revolution out of ATM ashes seeking a resolution.

Paper Planes

He’s not the devil, but that’s what I call him. We’ve been battling in my sleeping subconscious for as long as I can remember. He’s just an asshole who embodies evil. He chased me through mazes when I was young. But then I learned how to fly and I rendered his mazes obsolete. My powers have matured, but his haven’t. His only option has been to become trickier… and trickier he has become.

Last night, he figured out a way to cap my powers. I’m not sure how he did it, but it pissed me off. I could levitate things, so long as they weren’t too heavy. I could light things on fire, so long as they were easily combustible (like crumpled parchment). And that’s it; I had impotent telekinesis and pyrokinesis. It’s better than nothing I guess, but this time, the devil was trying to take my youngest daughter. I wanted all my powers. I wanted to be a god, or the father of gods with his basket full of lightning bolts, so I could slay this asshole that was trying hurt my child.

Then it hit me. I’d just combine my two weak powers into something formidable. So, as the devil descended towards my daughter with a torrent of burning light and death, I fought back. I conjured an armada of flying paper airplanes, millions and millions of them, and willed them towards the devil’s chest. A moment before my planes struck, I concentrated with all I had and lit them aflame. The planes were small and their flames were weak, but they were many. My weapons smote that asshole and rent countless flaming holes in his chest. I was winning. So the devil retreated and filled my dream with smoke and confusion. I found my daughter and my son, both covered in ash and soot, and took them to safety. I would’ve killed the devil but I didn’t get the chance. He left too soon. That’s how it always is.

That’s when I woke up safe and perspiring in my bed. My daughter had been awoken by a bad dream of her own and was lying next to me with her eyes open. She wouldn’t tell me what her dream was about. I said “okay” and let her drift back into a deep slumber. But something was nagging at me; something about the dream was off. And then I understood. I don’t have a son. Shit. The devil used my love against me and fostered a false compassion. His only avenue of salvation was to disguise himself as a child so I’d spare him. My armada of flaming paper planes would’ve killed him, and our eternal battle would’ve ended. And I bought it. Hell, I even saved the devil from the smoke and confusion and brought him to safety in the end. It’s like I told you; that asshole is tricky.

Paper Planes

Wednesday

Last Wednesday was weird. Everything below was at least inspired by something that happened. The Navajo girl really sang and shook her seeds, the man really wanted to go to Cuba, and the hummingbird really sang and swooped. But a lot of it is fictitious; I obviously didn’t die in the shower, I went to work but came home early, and the black widow came out at night and died under my rubber mallet. I hope you enjoy:

 

Wednesday

The Navajo girl walks out of the gas station shaking her bag of sunflower seeds like a giant rattle while singing a native dirge. It’s low and guttural and sonorous but she just sings louder when we make eye contact. She’s roughly attractive, almost Asian in her features, but we both look away. She gets into a late eighties Mercedes and closes the door. I finish filling up and pull onto 550 heading south on my way to Albuquerque. Sublime plays on my radio. I pass a hitchhiking man wearing a sombrero and holding a cardboard sign that says “Cuba” in Sharpie. Sure, Cuba is a shitty little town that’s landlocked right in the middle of New Mexico, so his destination is plausible, but he looks like he’s going to the Cuba with classic cars and illegal cigars. The weirdness of the day smacks me and I flip a U-turn; it’s best to stay home on days like this.

I drive home and strip out of my shirt. There’s a lawn chair in my back yard amongst the bugs and cat stench; I missed out on a tan torso while living in Alaska so I make up for it now. Hell, I used to make fun of the dudes that’d walk around with their tattoos and abs, but as it turns out, that’s only because I didn’t have tattoos or abs. I’ve got them now, five and six of each respectively, so I lay out. I set the alarm on my phone for ten minutes. I give my back the sun first, and then flip when my phone beeps so my front can also brown. I’m no better than a grilled cheese in a frying pan.

A male hummingbird is doing aerial acrobatics over my head, but he’s doing them for the diminutive female that’s perched on my humming bird feeder. God they’re incredible little creatures. He sings a warbling song that distorts under Doppler’s laws as he flies by. I do my best to picture him as his mate does; slow and perfect, but I can’t. My brain is too slow, or too big.

Something tickles my leg so I look down. A black widow is slowly walking up my leg, across my shin and over my knee, on her way up my body. The beads of sweat must be like puddles; my leg hairs like hurtles to a track star. What the hell? They’re supposedly nocturnal. They aren’t supposed to fuck with you unless you fuck with them. The golden rule is instinctual for the black widow. It’s too late now. Maybe I should’ve stayed at work.

The spider raises her front two legs in the air, almost like she just doesn’t care, and starts waving them around. I see her fangs and her red hour glass tattoo. I realize that she’s about to strike as the warbling song of the hummingbird gets louder. Jesus it’s stentorian. He swoops down and plucks the spider from my leg with his needle nose beak. It hurts, but only a little bit. There’s a small bead of blood. Maybe my hero grazed me with a tiny talon or maybe the spider got in her bite. Either way, it’s time for a shower. My phone beeps and I’ve cooked for ten minutes on both sides.

The water starts washing over me and I think about the hummingbird as the steam softens my skin and my sight. What the hell was that anyway? Don’t hummingbirds live off of nectar? I guess maybe they need the occasional dose of poisonous protein to round off their diets. Or maybe that act of salvation was the feat that sealed the deal for his voyeuristic lady friend. She’ll have to have his babies now. Any hummingbird suitor that’s tough enough to kill a black widow is good enough for her nest.

I stare at the shower wall and see a single hair from my wife’s head stuck on the tile. It was probably on the bar of antibacterial soap. Someone must’ve picked it off and stuck it to the wall. It makes me smile because it’s in the shape of a perfect ampersand, but there’s nothing to the left or right of it; nothing and nothing. And that’s when shit gets weird. I get light headed, maybe I locked my knees for too long, and I faint. My body crumples into a fetal position on the shower floor because that’s the only way it fits down there.

I shake it off and stand. But when I rise, I do so in the desert, which is absolute bullshit because this is exactly the place I was trying to avoid after seeing that man on his way to Cuba. Whatever. I look around. There’s a tree in front of me that looks to have grown out of the ground, grown right back into it, and then died. It looks like some odd and bark covered serpent that’s swimming through the sand and sage brush. It’s a dead arch of wood. The land through and beyond the arch is in focus. Everything else is blurry. Again, whatever. I get down on all fours and crawl through.

Tree Tunnel

 

***

I write and sell books and they never cost more than a dollar. If you’re a fan of fiction, you should check out Trailer Park Juggernauts here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00704HK6Q If you’re a fan of real life with just a sprinkling of fiction, you should check out Ephemeral Truths and Short Fiction here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AYRAXNI

Flash Fiction

“The man prattled on about his prized fighting rooster while his wife fried chicken and smiled.”

-Unknown

I was scrolling through my twitter feed when I came across the above posted piece of flash fiction; I read it and continued scrolling. When it sank in, when I realized how awesome it was, it was too late. I scrolled back through the insipid string of tweets with a frantic thumb upon my iPhone, but I couldn’t find it. I couldn’t figure out who wrote it and my desire to give some random author a virtual pat on the back was left unsated. I’ve posted a couple tweets since asking “which one of you wrote the flash fiction about the fighting rooster” but nobody has responded. Sure, a few quasi poets awarded my tweets with stars because they probably thought I was trying to be funny, but I wasn’t. Twitter is like an enormous room full of strangers who are all talking to themselves, or at best, at each other, and my repeated attempts to find the author of this rooster related flash fiction were nothing more than the quiet shouts of yet another avatar. Oh well. I hate quoting someone else’s work without giving proper credit, but in this case, I must; the little piece is just too cool.

On the surface, the story is nothing more than a banal slice of bucolic life, but underneath, it’s dark and wonderful. You start thinking: holy shit, wait a minute, is she frying his prized fighting rooster? Is she about to feed it to him? I pictured a neglected wife living amongst flowing wheat somewhere in the bible-belt. She’d married a man that’d rather spend his time with a bottle of bourbon and his friends while they pitted rooster against rooster. He came home late one night with a caged rooster and a handful of small bills before passing out on the couch. The wife couldn’t take it anymore. She took the rooster out back to the slaughter house and wrestled it from its cage. She held it down against a smooth butcher’s block with one hand as it crowed for release. She screamed as the cleaver fell and arterial blood, red and foaming, sprayed across the walls and her “kiss the cook” apron. The next morning, breaded the meat before dropping it into the hot oil with a smile; her husband sat at the table nursing a hangover while he waited for his breakfast. He placed his hands on the red and white checked table cloth and tried to strike up a conversation with his estranged wife. He talked about that which mattered most; his prized fighting rooster. She smiled. He deserved the breakfast that was coming.

Maybe I’ve got it all wrong. Maybe she too loved the rooster but he lost his last fight. They could’ve been frying it up as some sort of morbid send off. Or maybe it was an entirely different chicken and the wife was just smiling because she loved to hear her husband talk, and I’m a demented ass for taking it to the darkest place possible. Or maybe there’s a darker place yet, to which you took it, but that’s exactly my point. That little story was awesome, and it’s part of the reason that I’ve decided to dedicate this third and final segment on emerging writing styles to “Flash Fiction”.

 

Part 3: Flash Fiction, and Emmie Mears

 Emmie

Photograph taken by Colleen Barrett of Blue Tree Photography

My go-go-gadget Wikipedia search on flash fiction tells me that James Thomas coined the term back in ’92, so out of the three styles I’ve touched on, this one is by far the youngest. You could argue that flash fiction is nothing more that super short fiction, which has been around ever since Aesop and his aphoristic little tales, and you’d be right, but this is my blog so there’s no point in arguing with me. To define it, flash fiction is a short medium no longer than one thousand words.

From what I’ve seen, flash fiction seems to be a “writer’s writing” (just like Magnum P.I. was a “man’s man”). Authors love it. They write it and post it and submit it to all sorts of little contests but most casual readers seem to prefer something a bit longer. But that’s just my take on things. In my opinion, the great flash fiction is something that leaves you guessing; wondering exactly what was going on. Like the story that I started this piece with, I’d say that masterful flash fiction leaves things unresolved, yet it also leaves the reader satisfied. That’s a hard feat to pull off, but Emmie Mears is a literary samurai and pulls it off as if it were nothing. I stumbled upon her website, and a piece of flash fiction she wrote thanks to Twitter, and after reading it, I started taking super-short form writing seriously.

Emmie would tell you that she’s not technically a short form writer, and that she has four completed novel-length works of urban fantasy, but whatever. It’s my contention that all you have to do to be considered a “flash fiction writer” is write flash fiction. Seriously; can you name an eminent flash fiction author? Well neither can I, so this is the piece I went with:

“I didn’t expect it to be so wet.

Oh, I knew it rained in Scotland. How else would everything be such a virulent shade of green? Somehow when I pictured majestic mountains shrouded with twilit silver mist, that mist lacked the power to turn my hair into a fro.

Right now the expanding mass of curls atop my head didn’t make number one on my list of problems, but it also didn’t help my visibility as I squinted into the engine of my rental.

Steam rose from the metal, along with the acrid tang of seared rubber. One end of the betraying belt flopped against the oil dipstick.

I’d come here looking for magic. I’d found wet feet and a fro. Two hours to wait for AA – that’s what I got for picking a nameless glen in Sutherland over a pub in Fort William. My brain taunted me with the memory of malt vinegar over chips and Glen Ord scotch.

The forest to the west looked drier and less cramped than the tiny car. I squished into the underbrush and picked my way to an oak tree, sitting on the cushion of moss to wait for my rescuers.

The air smelled of peat and crystal water, clean. A deep breath afforded a small comfort against the damp seeping through the seat of my pants.

Bright in the gloaming, eyes met mine through the trees…”

That was an excerpt from “Rustle” by Emmie Mears. For the rest of the piece, you’ll need to visit Emmie’s site here: http://emmiemears.com/2012/02/20/rustle/

This is usually where I’d summarize the piece of writing I chose to blog about, but it’s unnecessary; my summary would be longer than the piece itself. But please follow the above posted link and read the rest of the piece because Mears did exactly that which I spoke of earlier; she left me guessing but satisfied. It takes Mears a mere three hundred words to lay down depth and substance, setting and suspense, and I think “Rustle” is a perfect example of what “flash fiction” should be. Furthermore, Mears is a true wordsmith and an author to watch. The short fiction that can be found on her website is well worth the perusal, but you’ll have to wait if you want more because that’s all there is. However, Mears is a badass author with a real life agent, so you probably won’t have to wait long. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, please visit her site and blog here: http://emmiemears.com/